Out NOW! Pax Victoria by Liz Davinci

Pax Victoria is a concept album about a fictive character named Victoria whose mundane Californian life was interrupted by an all-consuming love affair that led her into the world of underground crime and having to choose between right and wrong.

The songs describe Victoria’s struggles as she faces realities she doesn’t want to believe possible and finds a strength she never knew she had.

Credits

Released January 23, 2021

All tracks composed by Liz Davinci except “10:23”, “The Club” and “Deserted”, which were composed by Underhatchet. All tracks recorded at Liz Davinci’s house. All tracks mixed and produced by Liz Davinci and Underhatchet except for “Oh God”, which was mixed and co-produced by Simon Bartz and “10:”3”, which was mixed by Liz Davinci and Simon Bartz.

Thank you to Underhatchet, K.A. Laity, James Shaffer, Mark McConville and Paul D. Brazill for providing beautiful and inspiring texts for the five album trailers. Thank you Underhatchet , K.A. Laity and James Shaffer for your additional contributions to the mini-chapters (which can be read here and comprise the whole story of Victoria: www.lizdavinci.com/blog).

Tombstones by B F Jones

Tombstones

A life well lived.
Acronyms were not her friends
Great father, average husband
A life well lived?
John something something
Finally.
She believed in iteration
You ain’t getting that back
I regret nothing.
We buried you with your travel mug
Name and message TBC
Reunited with her daughter.Pass the burgers, Jesus
Evil man, thief of trees and innocence
I demand a recount
Cats!
Going to hell, need anything?
I’ve taken all your secrets.
A life well lived?
We will remember love.
Shipwreck.
Lived fast, died wet
I told you so, Margaret

A life.

Phobia of Knives by Robert Ragan

Phobia of Knives

The man had a fear of knives; that was only one of many reasons why Jerry shouldn’t have been allowed out in public.

Butterfly knives, switchblades, steak, and hunting knives; Jerry feared them all. It wasn’t the ex, who once stabbed him in the arm with a pocket knife, or the crackhead who pulled out a butcher knife and robbed Jerry.

No, it was the little old lady next door who asked him to bring her an apple and a paring knife. When he walked back into the room, Jerry saw himself slam the blade right in the top of her head, turning all her gray hair instantly red. He handed her the knife, desperate to get it out of his hand. Ever since, he’s been terrified of knives, hoping he never picked one up and did something he couldn’t take back.

This was a silly phobia since knives were only one of the many weapons he could use. For example, had he not thought of mowing down innocent pedestrians with his car?

Well, yes, he had, and Jerry didn’t just stop driving.

He fights those thoughts. The people in his life thought this was just an excuse for his laziness.

His last ex couldn’t believe he was refusing to peel potatoes for her safety. Like all those before her, she got lost.

Jerry had turned himself into a recluse, never leaving home unless he absolutely had to.

Nobody needed to know his morbid thoughts of murder, which came in a variety of visions.

Sometimes, Jerry could see his fist clenched and pounding into someone’s face until there was nothing left but their bloody skull. Other times, his hands would be wrapped around someone’s throat, squeezing until their eyes burst from the sockets.

It was all too much.

Online he read something about the act of stabbing someone being a substitute for sex.

Yeah, that made sense, he couldn’t stab his fat cock into the open wound between every woman’s legs, so it made him want to plunge a sharp blade in and out of someone’s chest.

But how would that explain his urge to invite someone to dinner and poison the food?

Jerry needed to kill, and it didn’t matter how. It was something he felt compelled to do.

Murder was the “New” sex, and he was a born-again virgin.

Staying away from everyone and giving up his dreams was for their sake. He was in complete misery, lonely, and losing touch with reality, but he did the right thing.

It just wasn’t cool to go around killing people. It said it right there in the ten commandments.

Jerry had lived a terrible life and broken them all, but he’d be damned if he turned into a murderer.

“Thou Shall Not Kill.”

And Jerry wouldn’t; he just had to stay as far away from people as possible.

He hadn’t eaten in days, and one night sick from starving, Jerry was forced to leave his tomb.

If it weren’t for his rich parents, Jerry would have probably already killed someone in today’s competitive workforce. He had the world handed to him on a silver platter, but he could never live it up, for seeing the severed head of a pretty brunette laying on that silver platter.

It was just too much.

Walking around the grocery store, he kept running into this cute blonde. Everything was fine until they met in aisle four. All he saw were kitchen knives, butter knives, steak knives, and butcher knives.

The blonde passed by again, pushing her cart, and Jerry saw himself grab one of the knives and chase her around the store screaming. He’d hold up the chase to stop and stab other customers. It would be the worst shopping experience of their whole lives.

When Jerry came back to his senses, he was staring at the chick’s ass. That was it, forget eating he had to get out of there. Jerry looked like a child who just threw a tantrum and took off running out of the store. He was on the way to his car when he heard a calm voice say, “Slow down.”

It was a tall man, wearing a black overcoat, standing there flicking the ashes from his cigarette. He said, “What’s wrong with you? Did you steal something or see a ghost?”

Gasping for air, feeling the panic, Jerry said, “I’ve got to get out of here.”

The man, with short hair and a beard, asked if Jerry would give him a ride across the bridge. Despite his murderous impulses, Jerry really wanted to help this guy. It wasn’t until they got in the car that Jerry thought of bashing his head in with the tire iron in the trunk.

Before he could start the car, the man pulled out a pistol. He told Jerry, “I’m not going across the bridge. You’re gonna drive me far away from here.”

Jerry, pulling out of the parking lot, said, “Christ man, you don’t really want to do this.”

The man said, “I’ve just killed a couple of people, don’t make me kill you.”

Everything the man said made Jerry feel a lot better. He asked the guy, “So, did you want to kill them, or was it just a robbery gone wrong?”

Jerry said, “I’ve been robbed by a crackhead before, only he had a butcher knife.”

“By the way,” Jerry said, “What kind of pistol do you have there? “

Jerry already had this killer feeling uncomfortable. Then he said, “I’ve been thinking of killing someone myself. “

Jerry asked the man, “What it was like to see all that blood and know it’s your fault?”

The guy decides to go with plan B. Lifting the gun to Jerry’s head, he said, “Pull over and let me out.”

As the man ran away into the cold night, Jerry yelled, “I knew you weren’t a real killer. Come back….kill me before I kill someone!”

Redacted Murals, Redacted Memories by Kristin Garth

Redacted Murals, Redacted Memories 

after Servant 

Painted nude woman you hide with a chest,

Victorian, three drawer, exposes

the rest of a bleak mural which dresses 

your guest bedroom wall, white chenille roses 

a bedspread she’ll crawl upon, a Puritan girl

you choose for innocence, a young moral 

guardian you are convinced won’t cast pearls 

before husbands, crucifix transfixed.  Mural’s

prayerful inhabitants, appropriate 

amens, girls in bonnets, butterfly wings,

den of lions decrying redacted 

scenes because you have screened everything 

for this puritanical occupant —

your own worst transgression you will forget.

 

Two Poems from Mehmet Akgönül

Bio: Mehmet Akgönül is a poet who lives in Ankara, Turkey. He is studying at Hacettepe University Department of History. He worked as an editor  in an online newspaper GazeteHacettepe. His poems were published in Bosphorus Review of Books, The Nonconformist Literary Magazine, The Rye Whiskey Review, Punk Noir Magazine and The Dope Fiend Daily.

Twitter: @akgonulmehmet

Instagram: @mehmetakgonul

Birth of a sinner

Echoes dancing around me

They are whispering lines of a poem in my ear,

Even though the words warm me up

I am trembling with fear.

The vulture perch on a black cloud

Are they waiting for me to fall or fly

The echoes dancing around me take shape

I can swear they’re demons!

They force me to kneel in the mud.

The vulture is laughing with pleasure.

Demons must be cutting my invisible wings off.

A fluid warmth coming down on my back

Clouds black as sin seem closer to me,

I rise and share the joy of the vulture.

I’m either dying or born,

I don’t know the difference anymore!

The Role of Literature as a Motive for Murder

Words were carving out her skull

Then gave shapes to her mind

And razor-sharp thoughts

that leaves her reality in blood

She thought of the lives she took for pleasure

And every souvenir from them as reminders

The paper cut her finger while turning the pages.

A literary flavor aroused hunger in her.

Her deepest personality—

began to prepare for the banquet

Her darkest personality—

 was already ready for the hunt

She shot a bullet into her victim’s pen

That was cruel considering that her victim was a poet

While literature was the motive for murder,

the Killer became the literature itself.

I REMEMBER BY BEAU JOHNSON

I remember holding you in my arms for the first time.  How you turned your head and grasped my finger with yours.  It’s how I fell in love.

            You had blue eyes at first and eyelashes as long as your mother’s even though you weren’t an hour old.  I remember feeding you, bathing you, and pretending to hurt myself because of how it made you laugh.  All told, the very best parts of any parent’s day.

            I remember walking you to school.  Pre-school.  Kindergarten.  All the grades up to and including four.  You are ferocious in your learning, hungry for everything that was new.  I remember figure skating, Minx the cat, and all the times I carried you to bed.  The teeth you lost and the smiles you gave; a heart which seemed to dance.  All of it, every part: our lives as meant to be.

            I remember the officers, their posture, and how they held their hats as they stand outside our door; that our prearranged meeting time for walking home alone had come and gone and the grace period you knew nothing about had come and gone as well.  This is how it starts.  How we knew something had gone wrong.  Once he has been caught, I try my best to burn holes into the back of what passes for his head.  He never turns to meet me, not in all the years it takes. 

I study him, dream of him, and become something less in the exchange—a version of myself I can’t help but begin to hate.  Your mother tries with me, cries with me, but everything you were is bigger than the sun.  I give her what she wants, but not what I believe she needs.

I fall further, deeper, the blackouts I create as feared as they are embraced.  I want oblivion.  I want clarity.  Each and neither at the very same time. Only when I’m told he’s been granted early release am I able to put these things away.  Not for me, but for you, because you were my child.

            Free, I remember the day he is paroled and the day I follow him back to his father’s farm.  He bolts when he sees me, recognition creating flight.  I pass goats and cows and un-mucked stalls as my body becomes younger than it is, faster than it should be.  Unlike him, this comes from memory.  From days I longed to know.

            I follow him up the silo, his face turned down toward mine.  It’s exactly as I picture your face, there when your fear was at its worst.  At the top I stop, step forward, my mind ablaze and set.  He knows this, sees this, his mouth going on and on and on.  I don’t think, only act, and ensure I end up on top.   We fall, him screaming, my hold upon his body stronger than the stone atop your grave.  It compresses when we hit, collapses, crushing breath and bone alike.  Liquid splashes upwards, outwards.  I feel it mix with mine.

            I recall all of this, every bit, but the part I remember most is how I held you in my arms.  How you turned your head and grasped my finger with yours. 

It’s how I fell in love.

Three Poems from Stephen J Golds

Holes 

I still remember

the park we played in as kids.

Griffiti riddled slide and rusty chained swings. 

Broken glass scattered in crab grass. 

And the girl who lived in the block of apartments 

across the street with her grandmother. 

Her smile the whitest thing I’d ever seen. 

Lips the color of cherry bubble gum. 

She smiled a lot. My mouth would always 

go very dry whenever I spoke to her. 

Once she asked me 

why my friends called me ‘poor’?

I opened my mouth and closed it. 

Stuttered. 

My friends said they would show her why.  

I still remember

I laughed 

that begging, breathless kind of laughter. 

The sound you make when you realize 

people you trusted 

are going to betray you, hurt you and 

you want to show yourself 

much stronger than you are. 

It’s all just one big joke 

and you can take a joke. 

I still remember 

they ripped the sneakers from 

my feet exposing the holey socks

concealed within. 

The flesh of the heel and toes 

too white. 

The proof that I was poor was in the socks, 

they screamed victorious. 

I still remember 

the sneakers, I’d worked 

five weeks of a Saturday job, 

sweeping dust on a construction site to buy, 

casually tossed into a garbage pail 

full of black banana peels, 

coke cans, wasps, diapers, used condoms 

and all the other shit. Discarded. 

They all laughed that triumphant kind of laughter. 

They had won something and 

what it was they had won,

I still don’t know. 

I still remember

looking at all of the pointed fingers and 

sharp faces there in that park and 

the girl who lived in the block of apartments 

across the street with her grandmother. 

Her smile the whitest thing I’d ever seen. 

Lips the color of cherry bubble gum. 

She was pointing too. 

She called me pathetic, 

a word wrapped in razor-tipped giggles.

I still remember 

fishing the sneakers from the garbage.

I couldn’t understand why 

my holey socks were funny. 

We were all poor,

wearing the same clothes everyday.

Our mothers all working the night-shift and 

our fathers construction laborers.  

We were all living in the same 

poor neighborhood 

together. 

Megumi 

I suppose even fireflies they too turn to ash 

but tonight 

I’m sitting in this hot bath with you.

The bath bombs you brought 

smell like strawberries. 

We watch them dissolve slowly in the space between us. 

Listening to the radio and the sounds of water like piano keys 

as you scrub the filth from my body and my heart. 

Watching you lather foam from across your milky 

shoulders and breasts, the light running over your moist skin

sunshine through cream fabric hanging from a summer window,

in your eyes — moonlight on glass. 

I know this moment is something

I want to capture and 

hold glowing in a jar like a firefly. 

On That Early Morning Street 

Hot piss seeped dark into the grit 

making shapes, 

hard cases squealing like the children 

they were 

about who would open 

the bloodied, unconscious drunk’s 

damp billfold.

No one wanted piss on their hands, 

the blood was all right. 

The blood on our fists was something 

to be measured and compared 

as though it were the size of our pricks. 

Patricia Highsmith at 100 by K A Laity

One hundred years ago the Cottingley Fairies were brought to the public’s attention by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who wrote in the accompanying essay, ‘The recognition of their existence will jolt the material twentieth century mind out of its heavy ruts in the mud, and will make it admit that there is a glamour and mystery to life.’ More a harmless whimsy than a grift, nonetheless people did feel a bit cheated as the scrutiny of the images led to growing skepticism. But they are remembered fondly, as an image of a sweeter time when anything was possible.

One hundred years ago today Patricia Highsmith was born to a mother at best ambivalent and a father who was already heading out the door of their Texas home. Her surname came from her step father, who had a hard row to hoe with the suspicious young girl. She was shipped off to her grandmother’s while her parents tried to set up life in New York City, eventually bringing Pat with them and giving her a sort of home base for much of her adult life, though she was always proud of being Texan.

Highsmith is difficult, not just in the way that women who forge their own paths are inevitably labeled difficult. She was always chafing against everything, unable to settle in, unable to feel comfortable—always pretending to be human. As her favourite alter ego says, ‘If you wanted to be cheerful, or melancholic, or wistful, or thoughtful, or courteous, you simply had to act those things with every gesture.’

She was racist, pugnacious, anti-Semitic often despite having many Jewish women as her lovers (while the Shenkar and Wilson biographies are more authoritative, Marijane Meaker’s account of their love affair is a wild ride well worth taking). She loved snails, and yes smuggled them between Britain and France in her bra—the very thought of which gives me the vapours. But one of the few beautiful love scenes she ever wrote was in her serial killer novel Deep Water, where the killer watches his snails Hortense and Edgar make love, ‘How they did adore each other, and how perfect they were together!’ I can’t help thinking that Vic, who can’t dance, can’t love in the usual sort of human way is amazed and awed by the simple love of the snails and his creator is, too.

The Cottingley Fairies were adorable and sweet, something people longed to see. Highsmith is everything opposite to that, and yet just as arresting and memorable one hundred years later because she captured something no one wants to see, but knows lurks in the mind or heart of people who kill. She found her killers likable, but feared and hated people who made noise.

She drove most people away from her, finally withdrawing to a house like a bunker in the Swiss Alps. Up to the end she complained about paying taxes, but cheered herself by thinking, ‘it is good then to remember that artists have existed and persisted, like the snail and the coelacanth and other unchanging forms of organic life, since long before governments were dreamed of.’

If you haven’t yet read it, I recommend Edith’s Diary as particularly apropos in this moment. It’s a great demonstration of how one can be parted from reality step by step. A lot of that about.

Imprisonment by Liz Davinci

This is the last trailer of five to reveal a glimpse of the coming album “Pax Victoria” (releasing January 23, 2021), with a spoken abstract description of the concept “Imprisonment.” The abstract text was written by Paul D. Brazill. 


* “Imprisonment” by Paul D. Brazill 

The inky black night smothers the city. A shard of moonlight picks out a trail of blood. A dog barks. There are shouts. Then gunshots. A scream. Howls and cruel laughter. Animal grunts and whip cracks reverberate. It all goes black and the metal door slams shut. An abyss. A pit of darkness. In that void is a speck of light. Like a lonely star in a godless galaxy. A star to guide a lost voyager to safety. Home. Night melts into day. Day melts into night. Endlessly. 

*The accompanying Mini-Chapter by Liz Davinci follows: 

Chapter 5: Imprisonment 

Excerpted from: “Human Trafficking in the United States” From Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia Human trafficking is a modern form of slavery, with illegal smuggling and trading of people (including minors), for forced labor or sexual exploitation. … California: A significant leak in 2020 gave authorities the opportunity to shut down a fairly large limb of the trafficking operation located between Tecate and Campo, when a sketched map was left anonymously by a woman at a gas station in Campo. The map led to the findings of a tunnel running between America and Mexico, stipulating the location of a tunnel exit on the American side of the border. In total 13 suspected trafficking agents and 24 persons suspected in connection with three warehouses containing illegal immigrants were arrested. The warehouses were shut down by authorities. All immigrants in the warehouses were women and the warehouse suspects are currently being tried for sexual abuse.” 

*7am: Monday – Victoria Life in Paris has been good. I don’t miss California most of the time. I’m different since my relationship with Alexander and my rendezvous with the underground world of trafficking. So different. 

My actions helped fight against trafficking – they had results. Unfortunately Alexander was one of those arrested last year. 

After I managed to expose part of the operation to the authorities, I mourned Alex. But an intelligent fear arose in me as well. The trafficking operation is huge and big money is involved. If the exposure would ever be traced back to me, I would be killed – no doubt. What would Alexander do if he knew I had caused his imprisonment? Would he kill me? 

These concerns became more and more difficult for me to live with and I made the decision to move to Paris.

My life in California was small and humble anyway and my savings to buy a house with Alexander superfluous. 

So I took my savings and moved to Paris. I now live in a small apartment in the 11th arrondissement on Rue Sedan. I work as a secretary and don’t read romance novels. I sing and dance in my free time and have made several friends. 

I still have fear that I will be found. I still have nightmares. 

Back in California, Alexander never tried to contact me from prison. I drove past his apartment a couple of times and someone had cleaned it out – presumably a family member. 

I believe that I will overcome my fear – these worries. I did what was right and I covered my tracks. I was extracted out of my mundane life by Alexander and maneuvered a rocky road. I handled it as best I could and will never again be mundane. It’s not possible. 

If I hadn’t met Alexander, I wouldn’t have been able to put a stop to at least some of the trafficking, as I did. And I would simply be growing older, reading romance novels and traipsing the same streets year in, year out, maybe singing at the same mediocre club. I have scars from my experiences with and around Alexander and I am trying to find peace with them. 

I must find true contentment and not a rut disguised as contentment. I now value deep, calm love as opposed to frenzied, romantic love. Deep love cannot disappear. There was a revolution in myself that will never burn out. I don’t just exist anymore, I live. 

Imprisonment is my final task. Alexander is literally imprisoned at the moment, but I have imprisoned myself in the fear of being discovered as having exposed the trafficking – the fear of being hunted down. And I am breaking out of this prison of my mind because I know that peace will always be the victor. 
PAX VICTORIA. 
(This is all a work of fiction, including the Wikipedia excerpt.)

Liz Davinci
Website:  http://www.lizdavinci.com
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View From The Hill by James Lilley

View From The Hill

Vivid views from Pantycelyn steps

so good it should be on a postcard

combined with orange glow

suffocating smoke

from burning car wrecks.

Early nineties

population less that eight thousand

a tiny council estate became

the car crime capital of Europe.

High speed chases

through sleepy streets

dumping brand new motors

just for a laugh

only twocking in Abertawe

Police chief called it the Wild West

kids wouldn’t go to school

but could boost and drive

by the time they were twelve.

Old lady won a mini in the pools

they found it two days later

at the bottom of Cockett Park

twisted blackened metal

its only twocking in Abertawe.