Unlikely 2.0

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Editors' Notes

Maria Damon and Michelle Greenblatt
Jim Leftwich and Michelle Greenblatt
Sheila E. Murphy and Michelle Greenblatt

A Visual Conversation on Michelle Greenblatt's ASHES AND SEEDS with Stephen Harrison, Monika Mori | MOO, Jonathan Penton and Michelle Greenblatt

Letters for Michelle: with work by Jukka-Pekka Kervinen, Jeffrey Side, Larry Goodell, mark hartenbach, Charles J. Butler, Alexandria Bryan and Brian Kovich

Visual Poetry by Reed Altemus
Poetry by Glen Armstrong
Poetry by Lana Bella
A Eulogic Poem by John M. Bennett
Elegic Poetry by John M. Bennett
Poetry by Wendy Taylor Carlisle
A Eulogy by Vincent A. Cellucci
Poetry by Vincent A. Cellucci
Poetry by Joel Chace
A Spoken Word Poem and Visual Art by K.R. Copeland
A Eulogy by Alan Fyfe
Poetry by Win Harms
Poetry by Carolyn Hembree
Poetry by Cindy Hochman
A Eulogy by Steffen Horstmann
A Eulogic Poem by Dylan Krieger
An Elegic Poem by Dylan Krieger
Visual Art by Donna Kuhn
Poetry by Louise Landes Levi
Poetry by Jim Lineberger
Poetry by Dennis Mahagin
Poetry by Peter Marra
A Eulogy by Frankie Metro
A Song by Alexis Moon and Jonathan Penton
Poetry by Jay Passer
A Eulogy by Jonathan Penton
Visual Poetry by Anne Elezabeth Pluto and Bryson Dean-Gauthier
Visual Art by Marthe Reed
A Eulogy by Gabriel Ricard
Poetry by Alison Ross
A Short Movie by Bernd Sauermann
Poetry by Christopher Shipman
A Spoken Word Poem by Larissa Shmailo
A Eulogic Poem by Jay Sizemore
Elegic Poetry by Jay Sizemore
Poetry by Felino A. Soriano
Visual Art by Jamie Stoneman
Poetry by Ray Succre
Poetry by Yuriy Tarnawsky
A Song by Marc Vincenz

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by Bill Berry


Mandy looked at himself in the mirror. His lips weren't black enough. He smudged more makeup on them and smiled. His teeth were yellow from smoking and almost glowed against his painted gray skin. He looked dead enough now. He stood. His body, thin and drawn, hung listless beneath the wrappings of cloth he draped over himself. Black hair, piled and stiffly tattered, flew around his face. His black fingernails were filed to sharp points on the ends of his sinewy arms. He splayed them before his face and drew them slowly away from his body as he leaned back and howled to the music. Heather laughed.

"You look like Peter Murphy!" she exclaimed. Mandy stared at her boldly.

"Fuck Peter Murphy!" he yelled back. He pounced on top of her and they rolled around the bed together laughing.

"You told your mom you were staying here tonight?" he asked her, standing up and shaking his hair out.

"Yeah," she said, "You told your mom?"

"Yea," he said. He turned back to the mirror and posed, "She thinks I'll be at your house."

"Good," Heather said, "then we can do whatever we want."

"Whatever we want," Mandy repeated and reached into his pants' pocket. He pulled out two tabs of LSD. Heather smiled. He tore the tabs apart and put one in her mouth and put the other in his. They kissed deeply and exchanged drugs. Heather pushed him away.

"I don't like kissing fags," she said.

"And I don't like kissing dykes," Mandy laughed.

"Then we're a perfect match!" Heather screamed. She ran over to the stereo and turned up the volume. The Birthday Party tore out of the speakers pushing Heather's body into fits. She called it dancing. Mandy, crouching low and wrapping his arms around the backs of his legs, sprung up into the air and let his arms flail above his head. He leaned back wide and howled to Nick Cave. Heather watched them both in the mirror and smiled.

Heather's car was small and cramped. The music was as loud as it would go and it was barely audible. The LSD was beginning to kick in and the world was turning into a smear of color and confusion. Mandy howled. Heather was driving very slowly down the road as it tunneled out before her. She fit the car perfectly between its edges as she made her way to their destination: Church.

"What are you doing tonight?" Heather asked Mandy after fifth period gym

"Dunno. What are you up to?" Mandy asked, taking out a cigarette.

"Wanna do drugs and go out?" Heather asked.

"What do you have in mind?" Mandy said, suddenly interested. Heather pulled a joint out of her bag and lit it up. Mandy smiled. "I can't skip math class again or I'll fail," he said as he took the joint from Heather's fingers.

"So go to math and I'll be out here in my car waiting," Heather said plainly, letting the drug billow out from her lungs.

"I don't want to," Mandy said, "but I have to. My mom will kill me." His voice was tight from keeping smoke in his body. He handed Heather the joint as they walked across the street towards the high school.

"So go. I'll be in my car when you're done. Just meet me here," Heather turned left and went towards the parking lot of the school. Mandy continued into the building as he heard the sixth period bell ring. "Better late than never," he thought, leaving a thick, cloudy trail behind him as he walked.

"What do you want?" Marlene shouted over the music.

"Vodka and orange juice and a beer," Mandy said, putting his fake ID on the counter. Marlene stared at the picture.

"This isn't you," she said, and pushed the ID back at Mandy.

"Yes it is," Mandy replied, "I've gotten a new haircut since then."

"No you haven't," Marlene said, "This isn't you." The ID said that Mandy was twenty-three years old. Mandy was only fifteen. Marlene looked at him. She smiled.

"Don't worry," She said, "Here." Marlene handed Mandy his drinks. Mandy smiled.

"Thanks," he said.

"We're not dumb," Marlene said, "We're just nice." Marlene gave him a wink and Mandy blushed. Rusty, standing next to Mandy at the bar, looked at Marlene and let his eyes glare.

"Hey," Marlene called to Mandy, "What's your name?" Mandy turned back toward the bar after handing Heather her drink.

"Mandy," he said loudly.

"Mandy," Marlene replied, "This is Rusty." She pointed to her left and Rusty held out his hand. Mandy took it.

"Hey," Rusty said, "What's up?"

"I am," Mandy said, and looked at Heather who smiled. Marlene moved down to the other end of the bar where some guy was holding up money and waiting to get a drink. Rusty smiled.

"Me too," Rusty said, "What you got?"

"Nothing," Mandy said. He paused a second then added, "Nothing anymore."

"Oh," Rusty said shaking his head. "You wanna do some coke?" Rusty asked.

"Sure," Mandy said, "Can my friend Heather come?"

"I don't think I have enough," Rusty said, disappointed.

"That's cool," Mandy replied, "She can wait here. Hold on."

Mandy turned away and whispered something to the girl next to him. Rusty looked around the bar nervously. No one he knew was out tonight.

"Okay," Mandy said, "Let's go."

"Cool," Rusty said, and started walking towards the dance floor.

Mandy found Heather stoned in her car. The windows were down and she was jamming to David Bowie.

"Hey!" Mandy screamed into the window as he opened the car door and got in, "Let's go."

"I thought you were going to math?" Heather asked.

"I changed my mind," Mandy said and looked down. He pulled a bag from his pants' pocket and swung it before Heather's face. There were two tabs of LSD in the bag.

"Where did you get that?" Heather asked greedily.

"I have my ways," Mandy replied with a grin. Heather looked at him and laughed. She started the car and threw it in reverse. As they drove off, Mandy watched the school disappear in the mirror behind them.

"Hey faggot!" Someone shouted as Mandy threw the doors of the school open. He ignored it and kept walking to class. He was late and the halls were empty.

"Faggot!" Mandy heard someone call behind him again. He heard footsteps coming up fast. Mandy turned to look. It was a group of five kids, three burn-outs and two jocks. It was one of the jocks who was calling him a faggot. The group surrounded him.

"Want some acid, faggot?" one of the burn-outs asked. Mandy looked down. He didn't reply. Someone from the group shoved him.

"I said, want some acid?" Mandy didn't know who was talking so he looked up. Some burn-out held a bag of LSD discreetly inside his jacket.

"How much?" Mandy asked.

"Three dollars a hit," the burn-out said.

"I don't have any money," Mandy said and he turned to go to math, but the burn-out grabbed his arm.

"That's all right," the burn-out said, "How many hits do you want?" Mandy looked around him.

"I need two hits," Mandy said, thinking of Heather in the car.

"Two hits, yeah?" the burn-out repeated rubbing his chin. "Tell you what," the burn-out said, looking at his friends and smiling, "I'll give you two hits." The group of boys laughed, moving suddenly and snatching Mandy up along with them dragging him into the bathroom across the hall, two doors down from Mandy's math class.

Inside the bathroom, Mandy found himself in the center of a circle of boys. The burn-out with the drugs took the LSD from his jacket and pulled two tabs apart from the rest of the sheet. He put them into a smaller baggy and neatly tucked his stash back into his jean jacket. He held the tabs out for Mandy to see.

"I'll give you these," the burn-out said, "If you want."

Mandy took the drugs. They grabbed Mandy and pushed him down. He closed his eyes and went listless as the boys grunted and laughed.

Heather listened to Mandy's story. She peeled bright blue lipstick across her mouth as Mandy told her what happened.

"Wow," Heather said, pushing her lips together and popping them apart to set the make up. She splashed more white powder onto her face. She could feel the LSD shaking its way into her limbs. "I'm getting high," she said flatly. She was trying to finish her face before it became a smudge on the glass in front of her.

"Me too," he replied, "Hurry up so we can go. I've always wanted to go to Church." Mandy rifled through Heather's music as he spoke. He found some Birthday Party and put the record on. Nick Cave blasted out of the stereo at nearly full volume.

"Turn it down!" Heather screamed.

"Sorry," Mandy replied as he lowered the music. "You told your mom you were staying at my house tonight, right?" he asked.

"Yeah," she said," You told your mom?"

"Yea," he said, "She thinks I'll be here."

"Good," Heather said, "then we can do whatever we want."

"Whatever we want," Mandy repeated.

"This isn't you," Lou said at the door to Church. Mandy looked at him in disbelief.

"It's me," he insisted, "I've just lost a lot of weight since that picture was taken."

"What's your birthday then?" Lou asked. The line to get into the club was getting longer.

"Seven, sixteen, sixty two," Mandy dictated. Lou looked at the picture on the ID and at Mandy again.

"This isn't you," Lou said and handed Mandy his ID back. Mandy took the ID and looked at Heather. They were both too young to get in, but they both had fake ID.

"It's okay, Lou," Rusty said loudly from behind them, "They're with me."

Lou looked at Rusty and the two kids. He scowled for a moment. "Six dollars for the three of you," Lou grumbled. Heather handed the doorman a ten-dollar bill and told him to keep the change. "Thanks," Lou said mechanically before shouting, "Next in line, please!"

"Hey faggot!" someone hissed as Mandy walked into the school, "Wanna buy some acid?" Mandy turned to look. Some burn-out was discreetly showing Mandy a bag of drugs he had inside his jean jacket.

"Sure," Mandy said, "How much?"

"Three bucks a hit," the burn-out replied, looking around him suspiciously.

On the dance floor Rusty stopped and turned to look at Mandy more closely. He was beautiful, really. His deep blue eyes and full black lips were perfect. Mandy was more androgynous than Six, but his eyes and lips sucked Rusty right in. They were perfect.

"Why so much make up?" Rusty asked, annoyed.

"I like it," Mandy replied. He looked at Rusty. Rusty wasn't bad looking for a punk. His tall Mohawk was down tonight and curled over half his shaven head. Boots and jeans and a leather jacket covered in paint and buttons—the usual hardcore punk rock stuff. He was good looking, for what he was.

"That's cool," Rusty said. He sat down on the edge of the dance floor and took out a small bag of cocaine. Rusty put a straw into the bag and sniffed quickly, once into each nostril. He handed the drug to Mandy who did the same.

"What you into?" Rusty asked.

"Goth," Mandy replied, "You know, Specimen, Alien Sex Fiend, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry..." he rambled off more band names. Rusty listened and nodded.

"You'd love my friend Six," Rusty said, "He's totally into it, too."

"Cool," Mandy said, handing the cocaine back to Rusty.

"Wanna fuck?" Rusty asked.

"I'm too high," Mandy said, "but I'll suck your dick."

"Okay," Rusty said. He thought of a place where they could go. From across the room he saw a familiar face approach.

"Hey!" Tim said, busting in on the scene, "was that coke?"

"Yeah," Rusty said, "you want some?"

"Sure," Tim replied. He looked at Mandy, who looked a little shocked by Tim's sudden appearance.

"Who's your friend?" Tim asked Rusty.

"That's Mandy," Rusty said, handing Tim the bag and straw.

"Hey," Tim said, looking at Mandy.

"Hey," Mandy said back, looking at Rusty. Rusty shrugged his shoulders. Tim handed the cocaine back to Rusty and wiped his nose.

"Wanna do some X?" Tim asked Mandy.

"I'm on LSD," Mandy replied.

"That's cool," Tim said, "You wanna do some X?" he said to Rusty.

"Sure," Rusty said.

"Cool," Tim replied.

"Maybe next time?" Rusty asked Mandy.

"Sure," Mandy replied, "Next time." Mandy walked back into the bar to find Heather.

"Thanks for getting us in," Mandy said to Tim as they walked away from Lou and the line at the door.

"Yeah. No problem," Tim replied. He looked at Heather. "We're not dumb, you know. Just friendly," Tim concluded. Heather smiled. "Hello," Tim said, introducing himself to her.

"Hey," Heather replied. She tugged the back of Mandy's shirt discreetly and turned to walk away. Mandy looked at her and then back at Tim, who smiled at him.

"Yeah, well...Thanks," Mandy said and took a step back.

"No problem," Tim said, and nodded at him, "Anytime."

"Mandy!" Heather called from the bar, "Come buy me a drink!" Mandy looked back at Tim and smiled. Tim winked back.

"It stinks in here," Rusty said. He was inside Tim's van smoking dope.

Tim laughed. "I guess it does," he said and handed the joint back to Rusty. "So you wanna do some X?"

"Sure," Rusty said.

"Cool," Tim replied. He climbed out of the back and into the front of the van, getting into the driver's seat.

"Where are we going?" Rusty asked confused.

"We're gonna get some X. It's at my place," Tim replied as he started the van and threw it into drive.

"Okay, cool," Rusty said as he handed Tim the joint. Tim smiled. Rusty smiled back.