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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Ludmila's Voyage
by Amanda Earl

Ludmila pouts in her powder blue dress. Askot can't escort her to the ball and she is bored, bored out of her mind. What is she to do on a Saturday evening, with no chaperone?

Meanwhile Sophia, her best friend, sucks the cock of Askot, Ludmila's fiancé. Always a best man, never a groom would be an accurate description of Askot. He's been engaged before, but the Rosnovia family doesn't know that. Askot is a social climber at best.

Ludmila, always mischievous when under stimulated, removes her cumbersome clothing, and clad only in her father's threadbare nightshirt and a pair of torn white underpants, climbs up to the roof to spy on her little village.

No point in describing this village from some indeterminate land in some indeterminate time. There have been numerous ones like it scattered all over Eastern Europe. Wooden houses, dirty streets, peasants milling about, the same old clichés and nothing to attract the restless mind of Ludmila. She's about to return to her room when she notices the two shadows on the wall of an old shack. One is long and spare, with a thick protrusion. The other is a crumpled cave. The protrusion is absorbed by the cave, and Ludmila hears the echo of a moan reverberating onto the rooftops around her.

She decides to investigate. You're thinking this is not a very wise move on Ludmila's part. And you're right. The village is not safe in the dark. A man will knife you for the meager contents of your purse and leave you there to die. Yet two people are hanging around an abandoned shack, setting aside safety for sex. And of course, you know something Ludmila does not. You know the couple engaged in nocturnal Glasnost is none other than her own fiancé and her friend.

But Ludmila can't help herself. She has a tendency toward the vicarious precarious. So monotonous is her life that she finds illicit joy in the pleasure and forbidden acts of others. For just one moment, her mind isn't empty. She has more to look forward to than tomorrow's aspic in jelly or whether the handsome groundskeeper will say hello to her as she aimlessly circles the garden.

The thought of the shadows merging has left her wet and tingly. Through a hole widened by constant self-frigging, Ludmila can feel a cold lick of air against her damp underpants.

You should also know that Ludmila has a potent imagination. She is a reader, and it is through reading that she learns to question. She was up all night the week before reading a stolen tract by N.G. Chernyshevksy on sexual freedom, on women's education. She couldn't stop reading. The next morning her mother remarked on the unpleasant bags under her eyes. Ludmila has heard that there are salons where these ideas and more are discussed openly. She is desperate to attend, but she isn't allowed.

She manages to find a book about Catherine the Great and her many lovers. It's not so much a book as it is a rough collection of pages held together by stitching. She has to keep it carefully hidden, but she reads it often. Often is perhaps too gentle a word. Her parents are growing tired of the way she cloisters herself in her room, coming out all flushed with shining eyes. They insist that she marry. It's becoming quite despicable that she hasn't yet. They are embarrassed. She's getting old, at twenty-one.

Why has she never married until now? Perhaps it is laziness. Or perhaps it is because of her imagination. When the women in her village reach marriageable age, they find a plump squire, have the repetitive, overly long ceremony, cut the cake and then procreate. It's as if they disappear at this point. Ludmila has seen them, buzzing down the street like angry wasps escaping from a hive, lost in a cloud of flittering children. Hands that reach down and blow noses, slap bottoms, shriek to reduce the cacophony of cries coming from the mouths of the babies in their arms, the toddlers trundling along beside them, the teenagers dragging their feet. To Ludmila there is no point to this kind of life.

But Askot has come along at the right time, or so she thinks. He's handsome, somewhat intelligent and not from the village. She hopes he'll take her away. He's her only means of escape.

Her fervent imagination leads her down the stairs, to the cloakroom where she wraps a loose woolen cape around her shoulders, places her feet in impractical and pointed red leather boots and then to the shadows.

Sophia is still at it, lapping up Askot's cock like a hungry kitten laps at an empty saucer that once held cream, licking along the crevices and cracks of porcelain until the saucer is upended and breaks. Askot heaves his thick-set hips against Sophia's saliva-and-jism-covered lips, his cock alternating from the back of her throat to the roof of her mouth, to the fleshy jowls of her cheeks. Sophia makes pleasant mewling sounds as she licks and sucks, stroking his shaft with soft hands.

Ludmila imagines the strange man. What if she were to join in? Would he ravish her, take her right there in the street? All she can see is a tallish physique, more like a smudge of soot against the wall. Kneeling in front of him is a woman, her full skirts spread out, and her round ass undulating. Ludmila would like to push the strumpet out of the way, and take her place.

As she moves closer, the wind picks up and her breasts, feeling the chill draught, stiffen and rub against the fabric of her father's threadbare nightshirt. She opens her cape and lets the cold air caress her.

The clouds above suddenly part, revealing a harvest moon. The bright yellow glow shines directly down on the fellator and the fellated. Ludmila's steps slow down. She recognizes that dress. It is, in fact, her own. She loaned it to Sophie only last week for the dance. She feels suddenly embarrassed at the idea that she's caught her best friend acting like a common whore. But who is she whoring with? Ludmila treads closer and recognizes the sharp, jutting chin of her fiancé. He is in mid-moan, his mouth is slack and gaping.

Sophia doesn't know that anyone is near, so caught up is she in pleasuring her lover. But after lowering his chin, Askot sees Ludmila, and looks directly into her wide brown eyes. A dilemma perhaps for some, but Askot has come this far, he might as well push the point home. With a grunt he drives his cock hard into Sophia's wet, yielding mouth, all the while smirking at Ludmila.

I suppose he's imaging she'll join them, maybe offer her cunt where Sophia's mouth has been. Ludmila, on the other hand, is flabbergasted. She remains still, her cape billowing in the wind. Askot is the only man she's ever been engaged to. She hears his laugh and then Sophia turns, sees her friend, and also laughs. She stands, takes Askot's hand.

While Ludmila's family is well off, Sophia is the heiress to a great fortune. Ludmila knows Sophie will marry Askot. She can see the whole affair flash before her eyes, like her life, passing in ridicule. Ludmila knows she will be a spinster, the laughing stock of the entire village.

Her wild imagination conjures up a jeering crowd, the echoes of their laughter on the walls of her tiny abode, in some unfashionable quadrant of the village. Then she imagines the wedding of Askot and Sophia. Sophia will be wearing the wedding dress set aside for Ludmila. Askot will be handsome in a new black suit and shining shoes.

She can't face this. She breathes hard, her breasts heaving up and down with the effort to pump oxygen into her lungs. Wrapping the cape tighter around herself, she is finally unfrozen and does the only thing any honorable girl in her village would do. She runs. Not toward her home, but away.

Askot and Sophia have their own story, so we will leave them to it. Maybe they marry and have a few selfish brats. Maybe Askot finds out that Sophia's fortune is not as great as Ludmila told him. Maybe it dawns on Sophia that Askot is a philanderer. We'll leave them to their dreary future.

Ludmila runs and runs, not caring that all she has on is her cape, her red boots, a pair of torn white underwear and her father's threadbare nightshirt. She runs. Then she stumbles and falls. Then she walks, stubbornly, almost all night long. She wants to get far away from the village. Somewhere in the night she realizes that she's been nothing but a pretty doll, an empty vacuous doll, the plaything of empty vacuous parents and an empty vacuous fiancé. She doesn't want that.

Her feet are sore, but yet she walks in into the night, beneath the full moon that put a spotlight on her nothing life.

At dawn, serendipity plays a role by way of a coachman with an empty coach. Where he is headed Ludmila doesn't know, nor does she care. She yells out, asks him to let her board. He sees her loose cape, bare shapely legs and red boots, plus a peek at the threadbare nightshirt. What man would refuse?

They travel through the morning. Ludmila is asleep. The coachman is plotting. They climb up a mountain. At times the carriage leans far over the edge. They could both die here. There have been plenty of accidents on this mountain path: the already short and inconsequential lives prematurely ended as they tumble to their deaths. Instead the coachman carries on and Ludmila sleeps a dreamless heavy sleep, the rumbling of the cart having quieted her.

The coachman is getting tired. He'd been passing through the small village, but it was too calm for him. No real signs of prosperity for him to capitalize on. He roams on. Finding the girl was a happy accident. These accidents happen often to a man with his looks and intellect. It doesn't take much to seduce these young listless maidens scattered all over the country. It doesn't take much to figure out what they need and then provide it for them. At what cost, they don't really understand, or perhaps it's worth it to them. He doesn't really care. At the bottom of the next rise, he finds an inn.

He's let the girl ride in the carriage undisturbed until they are far from any possible interfering relative or friend she might have in a neighboring village. Then he stops the horse's cantering with no more than a whispered syllable. He's good at taming wild beasts.

Upon arrival at the inn, he climbs down, and opens the carriage doors. Ludmila's hair is tangled and her face streaked with tears. She is semi-clad and vulnerable, just the way he likes them. He reaches in to his vest pocket and pulls out a flask, thinking she might need warmth after the ride in the draughty carriage. He is careful to be polite and well mannered. He knocks before entering, but hearing nothing takes it upon himself to open the door nonetheless. After all she might be sickening. It's merely a question of safety and concern for her well being.

The young woman is asleep and gently snoring, sprawled on her back on the seat, her red boots removed to reveal calloused and blistered feet, her cape fallen on the floor. Her threadbare nightshirt has ridden up to reveal torn white underwear, a sweet round belly and the generously curved underside of one breast.

He closes the door, reaches down to adjust his balls, which have tightened in response to the woman's unintended display of sensuality.

He doesn't want to wake her, but thinks he'll win her trust more effectively if he finds her a bed. The full moon is once more hidden by clouds and the wind is sharp and cold. He wouldn't be surprised if the first snow fell. He realizes he can't just lug an apparently unconscious woman into a strange inn. He takes a swig of the fiery liquid in his flask, places it back in his pocket because he doesn't want to waste a drop of the good stuff. He closes the door once more and goes to see the innkeeper.

After cajoling the innkeeper with a few of his last remaining banknotes and some flimsy excuse, the coachman wraps the girl's cape around her. Letting his eyes linger for just a moment on her breasts and breathing in the young woman's clean scent, he lifts her up and carries her into the inn, turning at a side door and climbing up a set of steep stairs. And then. He leaves.

This is perhaps surprising. You expected he might accost her? Then you underestimate his intelligence.

Ludmila wakes up the next morning, shocked at the wild state of her hair, the rough sheets against her skin and the foul smell of fried meat in the air. She has no idea where she is, but then it all comes thundering back to her. She closes her eyes once more and lies back down with a futile thump as if to say, what's the point?

That's the story of her life really. Everything is boring.