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.

Then and now by B F Jones

Then and now

Shedding hair
Clogging drains
Showing patchy
Scalps
Skulls in the making
Brewing insomnia
Gestating insanity
That swells
With every passing day.

We forgot
What we look like
Our reflection
No longer visible
In the eyes
Of those we
No longer see.

We forgot
Who we are
Our loneliness
Stretching
Into a frail thread
Of disbelief
Anger
And sadness.

We held on.

We hold on.

A Fistful of Poems from Brian Rihlmann

Brian Rihlmann lives and writes in Reno, Nevada. His work has appeared in many magazines, including The Rye Whiskey Review, Fearless, Heroin Love Songs, Chiron Review and The Main Street Rag. His latest poetry collection, “Night At My Throat,” (2020) was published by Pony One Dog Press

What The Fuck?

as I drift through the warehouse 
on a Monday 
putting a few things away
I hear the young men
talking about their weekends
and it’s what sports team
traded who 
and how they beat 
some new video game
and movies, TV shows…

they even talk 
about politics
for christsakes!

I want to ask
how are your lives really?
got a girlfriend?
get laid this weekend?

and then shake them
when they say no
and ask
what the fuck 
is wrong with you assholes?

there’s better ways
to murder time…

you should be out all night 
getting drunk
and chasing pussy

every fuck
or parking lot blowjob
should be “the one”
and your heart 
should wrestle with hers
and lose

you should show up on Monday
wearing your defeated souls
on your faces

but you guys
are smiling…

what the fuck?

Breaking On Through

my back has been fucked 

for about a week

and this morning it was

especially stiff

I tried leaning to the left 

and using my right hand as usual

but couldn’t quite reach…

I didn’t give up

because you’re never too old

to learn, right?

so I used my left hand instead

took about twice as many

sheets but I got it done 

after a lot of grunting and cursing 

of course then I looked

and there it was—

all over my middle finger

and beneath the nail

guess I’d really broken through

to the other side (so to speak) 

and as I washed my hands 

and the shitty water

swirled down the drain I thought—

what a lovely sneak peek 

at my so-called golden years

F.N.G.

the poor gal who’s been saddled 

with the new trainee 

plops down a pan

caked with burnt scrambled eggs

and I look at it, ask—

How do you usually get this off?

Just soak it, or…?

However ya want! she yells 

over her shoulder

as she waddles off

returns a moment later

and bangs a pot of oatmeal

like hardened cement down

on the stainless steel sink

and I swear she’s grinning 

beneath that mask

because now she gets to 

pawn all the shit jobs off

on the Fucking New Guy

and who wouldn’t love that?

Make Me Afraid Again by Kristin Garth

Make Me Afraid Again

A driveway can become an extended 

treadmill.  I jog safe lengths back and forth until 

I exhaust muscles, thoughts of how life could end

when my narcissistic president feels

impotent and deprived of power. I can 

not remember when I was deflowered

by a sycophant of cults — MAGA, Mormon.

They will let you grab them — and I cowered

expertly by the age of ten. They fly 

two Trump flags, the neighbors right down the road. 

I’m groped at Christmas indiscreet by my 

father, first time as an adult, and I implode 

but quietly as your president predicts.

Make me afraid again, your body politic. 

Kristin Garth is the author of seventeen books of poetry including Flutter Southern Gothic Fever Dream, The Meadow and Candy Cigarette Womanchild Noir.  She is the Dollhouse Architect of Pink Plastic House a tiny journal and has a weekly sonnet podcast called Kristin Whispers Sonnets.  Visit her site Kristingarth.com and talk to her on Twitter @lolaandjolie

A Bad Dream by Ian Lewis Copestick

A Bad Dream
Last night I had a dream so bad,
that it caused me awful strife.
My ex-girlfriend, 22 years dead,
had suddenly come back to life

She wanted to know if we could start again,
have another go at our lives.
But it’s been nearly18 years since when
I got together with my wife.

I said I couldn’t just forget those times,
and it was her who’d left me.
I’d also buried her, screamed and cried.
I knew that this couldn’t really be.

I know that it was just a dream,
but still it fucking hurt.
After all those years of grief,
to turn away from her.

But, I couldn’t leave my wife,
not after all that we’ve been through.
If it wasn’t for Karen, I doubt I’d be alive
and I know for a fact that’s true.

Not a one of my past lovers,
not that there’s been a lot.
Could make me want another,
other than the girl I’ve gladly got.

Although we’ve had our ups and downs,
it’s not always been a pleasant life.
There’s not another I’d ever want
to be my beloved, darling wife.

**PAX VICTORIA**Album Trailer #4: Revolutions in the Dark. Revolutions in the Light – Liz Davinci

Mini-Chapter 4: Revolution by Liz Davinci

5am: Thursday – Victoria

When I came to, there was a stench and my shirt was soaked in sweat – fear filled the car, the salt from my tears drained into the gag cutting across my face.  Memories of the past couple of hours slowly started to return.

I had followed Alex out to the desert but for the first time he noticed.  I hadn’t trailed far enough behind – I wasn’t careful enough and he caught me.  But he didn’t just “catch” me – he tied me up and gagged me – roughly, in a fury.  He yelled at me.

And there I was in between two young Mexican women, tied up in the back of Alex’s car.  One of them was crying as I moved into a state of some variant of calm, trying to outsmart the situation.  We sped along the highway in the dark, rain splattering the windshield.

I scrolled through idea after idea in my mind.  There must be some way out of this, I told myself.  There is always a secret door.  Alex isn’t a bad person, I told myself, he just ended up influenced by the wrong people.  I felt love mixed with hatred.

Alex was driving too fast.  He was angry, agitated.  It paid back – he slammed on his brakes as the traffic came to a sudden stop, the rain made it  too much and his wheels slipped – the car spun out of control.

And then I awoke in a pool of sweat.

******

3pm: Thursday – Alex

“Hi, Victoria!”, I say, answering my phone whilst in the middle of a workout on my balcony.  The sea air is fragrant and I sit down in my plastic green chair, actually not minding the break.

When I saw Victoria sing for the first time over at “Club Inanna”, I loved her voice and way she moved.  She’s beautiful and really fun to be with.  The only problem is that she wants more than I can give – more of my time, more attention.  

Maybe she will chill out though.  We’re still in touch and we still have fun when we hang out, but it’s not as often anymore.

The one issue that worried me was her curiosity about what I do for work. I studied business but last year I got a good gig from a trustworthy friend transporting people from Point A to Point B.  
Okay, it’s transporting women.

But that’s all I do – I just take them from here to there.  Sure they are Mexican and yes, they most likely entered the country illegally, but I just do what I do and don’t see anything wrong with it.

I just do my job and close my eyes to the rest.  I’d like to move back over to legitimate work, but it’s hard when the illegitimate work is this easy and pays so well.

Victoria got really curious about my life for a while.  She stopped that lately, thank goodness, and I’ve distanced myself from her to prevent it from happening again.  

I don’t need her involving herself and I can’t tell her anything – there are too many links involved in this chain.  It could even threaten my life.  That’s the downside of illegitimate work.

“This Saturday? Sure, I don’t think I have any plans. Shall I come around 8?”  We close off the conversation and I resume my chest workout.  Saturday I can rest, but Friday I work.

******

4pm: Thursday – Victoria

My nightmare in the desert doesn’t come as a surprise, as I have been trailing Alex out to the desert – I’ve done it three times now without getting caught.  Tomorrow I will go again if I can borrow Stella’s car.  

I don’t want to betray him but it’s clear that he’s into something illegal.  And it appears to have to do with women, though I don’t believe he is sexually involved with them.  That’s not the issue.  

At first I had to find out what was going on.  Once I knew – after the third trailing to the desert – I couldn’t stand back.  I knew he had to be involving himself in trafficking.  The trafficking of women.  

I know Alex so intimately that I can only believe that he doesn’t feel what he does is wrong.  But it is.  I don’t have a vengeance towards Alex personally, but I can’t stand back or turn my head away.

And tomorrow night I’ll see if I can make a change.  I have a good idea.

******

Abstract Text for the Trailer:

Revolutions in the dark. Revolutions in the light. By Mark McConville

I seek a rebel heart. We all seek rebel hearts. From the middle point of this resurgence we play the strings of old guitars and we scream for a revolution. Revolutions in the dark. Revolutions in the light. Down by the river we sit and sing about revolutions. Inside dusty rooms we sing about revolutions but can we dream too much? Is the world crushing our dreams, are the obstacles we face pushing us to our limits? 

Opening wine to toast the ending of days isn’t an agenda but this world is breathing fast and inconsistently. All we have is a chance to spark a revolution, and a revolt against the non-believers. Standing side by side we hold torches as signal fires, assaulting our lungs with smoke, but we don’t care about our abused organs, we care about the beginning of an upsurge in fortunes. 

Sadly, some have disbanded and discarded their badge of the runaways. They’re frightened by standing face to face with devils and callous hordes. Bringing down the empires they fought for, but they’ve left us. They’ve ran and ran until they feel dizzy, until they’re sick and out of breath. 

We are on our hands and knees praying to god. Hearts in ruin, lungs failing, the anthem playing in our heads. An anthem playing through radios and TV sets, a song for the youth who carry the burden of the world. And what are we supposed to do as our guts ache? What are we supposed to do as our hands shake? Do we view the world through immaculate lenses or do we unravel its toxicity. Do we cut ties and dream hard enough for it all to wash away.

Revolution, an uprising, an innovative plan is what we need. Praying to God isn’t working, grieving isn’t viable, scrawling words of wisdom on bathroom stalls doesn’t make a difference. Poisoning the antagonist would cause chaos, feeding the system would only fatten it up. So, tonight, in the dead of darkness, carrying lucky coins and images of our lovers, we’ll rip against the grain and fight to eradicate enemy lines, with a revolution in mind. 

******

Liz Davinci
Website:  http://www.lizdavinci.com
Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/elizabethdavinci/Twitter:  https://mobile.twitter.com/liz_davinci
YouTube: https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCdL2tbjQ3jP-BCBDfaw5tLgSpotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/3Ig4gDOSor8cwhOLxqjhvr?si=5qMNL0agRFuKLgqybGJQ2w
Reverb Nation:  https://www.reverbnation.com/elizabeth25
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/liz.davinci940

SoundCloud:https://soundcloud.com/user-526988818
Bandcamp:https://lizdavinci.bandcamp.com

John Wisniewski interviews Indy Perro

Biography: Indy Perro is a novelist, an independent thinker, and a recovering academic. Indy has a degree in history, graduate degrees in religious studies, comparative literature, and education, and has spent more than a decade teaching philosophy, religious studies, writing, and literature. You can usually find him on Twitter @IndyPerro and Facebook @authorindyperro or at https://indyperro.com. Visit Central City, the setting for his novels, at https://centralcitybooks. com.

1.When did you begin writing, Indy?  

I’ve been writing as long as I can remember. I spent most of my youth either in the gym or the library, and during the cold, Midwestern winters of my youth, the library had longer hours than the gym. 

2.Any favorite crime/noir authors? 

Too many to count. I love Elmore Leonard because he set the standard for the type of fiction that most interests me: intelligent, popular fiction that blends genres. He wrote wonderful westerns, brilliant contemporary noir, and thoughtful, literary works that entertained while giving the reader questions about contemporary society, all of which allowed readers to engage ideas or simply enjoy the stories. 

Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and James M. Cain, the usual suspects, provided archetypes and created stylistic expectations for hard-boiled fiction, and George V. Higgins wrote some of the best dialogue of any crime novelist. Frederic Brown, Dorothy B. Hughes, and Jim Thompson, just to name a few, engaged existential issues posed by postmodern society, and I love the atmospheres they worked to create. Chester Himes and Jean-Patrick Manchette, different as they were to one another, wrote such immediate novels. Their prose leaps off the page and demands attention.  

Cormac McCarthy, I feel, contributed more to American literature in the second half of the twentieth century than any other single author. He understood, interpreted, and captured trends and shifts that marbled our society. In hindsight, we can see how the fractured traditions and the evocation of chaos through ubiquitous commercialization left so many feeling alienated, a situation that plays perpetually across today’s news. McCarthy wasn’t the only writer or intellectual to see this in the wake of 1968, but he fictionalized it in a Southern Gothic and Western context, both classic American genres that, as American culture yielded to academic forces, he gave a fresh pint or two of blood. 

I love this question and love thinking about writers and art, and I regularly post about the authors and art that have influenced me at https://indyperro.com. Please visit me there and feel free to connect and comment. 

3.What inspired your novel “Central City” and currently “Journeyman”? 

-I wanted to blur the lines between good and evil, kind and corrupt. Developing two protagonists with different goals, I was able to come at the core ideas of the novel through contradiction, which, to me, creates an interesting and volatile story.  

Mysteries naturally contain an idea at their center: if the detective could only see the situation in its totality, they would find the solution. That’s what drew me to this type of story. One thing that drives me crazy, however, is the bland sense of right and wrong so often perpetuated in police procedurals. In reality, at least in my experience, no criminal believes they’re a villain. They rationalize their behavior like the rest of us, like the police who make decisions about where protection begins and civil liberties end. We slowly become the people we’re going to become, one choice at a time. Often, we don’t realize who we are until we see ourselves in the reactions of another, the criminal in the cop’s eyes or the law that restricts liberty. 

Journeyman is a continuation of the situation I began in Central City, but the ideas at the heart of the second novel are quite different. Where Central City looked at the forces in our past that make us who we are, Journeyman examines how the choices we make, even when we don’t realize we’re making them, shape our options. 

4.How do you create your characters? 

Each character develops differently, and it depends on how central the character is to the novel. Main characters need to change over time through the questions within the story that their manifestations answer. Smaller characters need to embody some element of the story they’re meant to evoke, and when I find a smaller character embodying a cliché, I try to crack that cliché like an egg, add a few ingredients, and make an omelette.  

5.Do you have another book in the works, after Journeyman? 

I’m planning a series of eight books that follow Kane Kulpa, Detective Vincent Bayonne, and Central City from 1992 into the twenty-first century. 

I’m currently working, however, on a novel that takes place in Central City in the not-too-distant future and involves a wholly different cast of characters and issues, less noir, though there’s a mystery at the center, and more of a humorous take on the direction our society seems to have taken.  

6.Are there any crime/noir films that you like? 

Quentin Tarantino’s early stuff set the standard for contemporary noir and exposed the importance of popular culture in crime fiction/film. Beyond Tarantino, The Friends of Eddie Coyle, Le Samurai, Shoot the Piano Player, Bullet, Anatomy of a Murder, The Godfather, and Miller’s Crossing, to name a few, have all contributed, in unique ways, to a collective sense of style, dialogue, and atmosphere that novels need to take into consideration. Whether authors evoke or subvert this work seems to me an artistic preference and a starting point for great possibility, but the issue remains that the work has shaped the perspectives of our audience. 

The noir films beyond the city, the westerns like Forty Guns, 3:10 to Yuma (written by Elmore Leonard), and movies like The Big Lebowski have also influenced expectations for dialogue and story in that they influenced the broader culture. For example, I believe that the artist who can find the roots of postmodern America in the mythology of the West will breathe life into a neglected genre, a genre we may need as our society rediscovers roads toward the middle, paths that connect us rather than divide. The Western remains part of our collective unconscious as Americans. The question appears to me to be whether or not we can see ourselves within contemporary art that utilizes that genre. 

7.How do you create atmosphere and suspense to keep the reader interested? 

So much of atmosphere is created through word choice, for example: the way “feline” creates a more sensual, winding, and flexible experience than the word “cat.” Diction does more to create atmosphere than anything else a writer can do short of buying a piano or video equipment and changing profession. 

Suspense is a whole other matter. Suspense requires knowing the direction and purpose of the story and being honest about the purpose. The original Star Wars films, for example, developed suspense through questions of identity: Luke needed to find his origin and Han needed to be honest with himself about his true nature. The intergalactic rebellion served as a brilliant context for a human story. If the films had been about the fan in the theater viewing the spectacle of a space war, the stories couldn’t have existed outside of a movie theater; they’d never have existed as a novel (which they did, and they spawned several stand-alone novels), and they wouldn’t have captured the public consciousness. 

Suspense, in my mind, is not synonymous with O’Henry twists or revelations. Readers have expectations, and they may guess the twists and reveals, but they should never lose the sense that the novel is moving toward emotional fulfillment. In other words, the emotions evoked through the experience of reading resolve in the mind of the reader through the act of reading the climax and denouement. That, to me, is true suspense, and without the way the story is told, the reader would never feel fulfilled. 

8.Will you write a screenplay? 

-The novel seems to me an appropriate format, size, and structure for my interests and focus. I don’t plan to write a screenplay, but I do, like Gregory McDonald and others, see the contemporary novel as post-cinematic. In other words, readers have seen so many images and are so accustomed to narrative format that they find intrusive many aspects of writing that were so necessary before the silver screen fueled our imaginations and televisions glowed in every home. Writers don’t need to describe a picture of Paris for our audience. Our readers have seen hundreds if not thousands of images of Paris. We writers need to highlight the aspects (and only the necessary aspects) of a Parisian landscape that evoke the ideas and themes central to a particular scene. Our readers bring to our books a wealth of visual experience and an innate understanding of story. As writers, we need to trust our readers, to evoke their imaginations, and to create new experiences that can only be enjoyed through the written word. 

If we try to compete with screens, we’ll fall short of television and cinema’s visual potency. If we develop our craft and rely on the written word’s unique relationship to the mind, we’ll provide our readers with something they can’t get anywhere else, an experience that evokes, subsidizes, and goes beyond a lifetime of entertainment.

A Fistful of Poems by Stephen J. Golds

As a Kid


One Saturday morning, 

I found a man who had been shot
in both knee caps.
Sprawled, wailing on the street outside his house.
His front door wide open —
I could see 

he’d been watching cartoons.

As a kid 

I lived for those Saturday mornings.
No school, 

bacon sandwiches, milky tea,
fetching the newspaper
from the corner store for my father
and those cartoons.

I’d like to write a poem 

about that man
and the blood that stained 

the concrete
and his trousers
and the golden Saturday 

morning sun —

so red —

seeping into everything 


but all I can ever remember
are those cartoons
and how they made me feel then.
As though everything was 

always going to be okay, 

I could live forever
and maybe I would.

But I was just 

a stupid fucking kid. 

Red Hotels for Red Flags

Maybe I should have known how it would all end 

the Christmas I found you cheating at Monopoly. 

How you lied, overreacted, screamed and cried. 

You flipped the board and 

sent pieces of my little red heart flying. 

You always won 

at all the games we played together. . 

But 

really thinking about it, 

maybe I should have known how it would all end 

the first night we met, 

after, cigarette smoke exhaled 

through a crack in a motel window,

you told me 

not to worry about your husband because he lived 

in another country and 

then told me 

actually 

you weren’t really married, just engaged, no, 

he was just a boyfriend, 

so it wasn’t like it was really cheating,

don’t worry about it, he wasn’t a good lover. 

Annoying, immature and needy, 

you were going to finish with him next week but 

half a year later you still hadn’t. 

Or 

maybe I should have known how it would all end 

the time you stood me up 

on my birthday because we’d fought, you were 

in another motel with another man, and

then told me it was rape 

when I found the messages and the photographs 

you sent him of your naked body. One month later.

If they’ll cheat with you, they’ll cheat on you, 

a friend warned me and 

I never listened. I should have known 

but 

you were just too much fucking fun to play with. 

No one played 

Monopoly quite

like you. 

I still find a red hotel occasionally

behind a book shelf or underneath 

somewhere I forgot. 

I don’t smile 

looking down at the 

red piece of plastic like a scattered piece of my heart

but 

I don’t frown either and 

maybe that means

I won 

finally. 

Christmas Split Single by Chris Whitehead and K A Laity

The Linear Obsessional Christmas Single is the 7th in the series of download singles (2 sides, single length, no music). A split single featuring Northern English sound artist/ musician Chris Whitehead and author, scholar, critic, editor, and arcane artist K.A.Laity

On one side you will hear an electromagnetic recording of Christmas Tree lights cycling through their flashing sequences. The other side is a field recording made on a cold day in Berne, NY featuring “Instructions for Christians” in the original Old English. Download includes two front covers and one back cover designed by David “smallhaus” Little featuring photographs by the artists., and 9 colour location photographs by K.A.Laity

Happy Christmas!

Credits

Released December 21, 2020

Side A – Electro-magnetic recording by Chris Whitehead December 2020
Side B – Field recording by K.A.Laity, December 2020

Cover designs by David Little

New Poetry from Max Thrax

PENTITO

In 1973

Leonardo Vitale

Gave himself up

To the Palermo police

He wanted to talk

About certain things

After finding God

He told the inspector

He burned his clothes

And smeared himself

In shit

Now he was ready

To talk

The inspector

Didn’t believe Vitale

Placed him with a doctor

Locked him away

After his cure

Vitale’s old friends

Gunned him down

As he walked home from Mass

With his mother

The inspector cried

He knew no longer

Men of honor

DEPARTMENT OF COLLAPSING BUILDINGS

The world’s largest 

Consumer of concrete

Gone domes

And basilicas

Block on block

Hiding the mainline

Above a gray beach

The pizzeria plays Alessio

A woman half-frozen 

Mounts her horse

If they caught fire

It would only kill

The people

You have to wait

For these buildings

To kill themselves

TONY HANCOCK

He threw back his head

And asked

Why they were laughing

STOUGHTON

Is named

After the chief justice

Of the Salem Witch Trials

No puritans live here

More rats than commuters

On the station floor

Five nail salons

A church with broken shingles

And Club Alex’s

Brockton has Rocky and Marvin

Sharon has money

Stoughton has a growing eight inch tooth

That it must grind

Or else

Die

Gnaws in the morning

Devours at night

END

BIO: Max Thrax lives in Boston. His stories and poetry have appeared in Bristol Noir, Versification, Shotgun Honey, and The Daily Drunk. Find him online at www.maxthrax.com or on Twitter @ThraxMaximilian.