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 Sue Ann Connaughton

Like the others, Michael appeared from nowhere, one of the vagabonds who populated University Square like pigeons—flocking, scavenging, defecating.

Around 11pm each night, the drifters cleared out of the Square. Some slept in shelters, if there were slots available. Those who remained, the street cleaners shooed to the cemetery by the city border.

Shopkeepers pitted against understaffed social service workers, wealthy residents against their activist progeny. But they all agreed on one point: it seemed impossible to clear the Square of homeless people.

Michael came equipped with resources: a guitar and a folksy-bluesy singing voice. Others had tried street performing, but sooner or later, they sold or traded their harmonicas, guitars, and keyboards for cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, or food that wasn't scrounged from dumpsters.

Michael cultivated a following. He called out for requests and sing-alongs from the college students who gathered to listen while they ate their lunches or broke from study groups. He handed out chamber of commerce maps to tourists juggling fancy coffee, pastries, and strollers. He kept a respectful distance from prep school girls, who developed crushes. He has dimples, they'd say, or, nice eyes, or, if he got his teeth capped...

When his street mates taunted him, Michael invited them to join him. Those who accepted his offer could participate in whatever performance-related fashion they desired. Some sang, some danced, others recited poetry.

Shortly after the mayor stopped by for photographs and handshaking with the ragtag ensemble, a reporter wrote a feature for the Sunday newspaper, “Successful Banding in University Square: Michael and the Unfortunates,” which spawned a name for the group.

Restaurant owners lured Michael and the Unfortunates to their outdoor cafés with free meals. It helps out people trying to pull themselves up, they said publicly.

During a noontime performance in the grassy patch known as Square Green, a gyrating Michael collided with a cocker spaniel that was darting after pigeons. The dog screeched. The dog's owner pelted Michael. Somebody overturned a trash barrel.

After the dog incident was cited in the newspaper, the appetite for Michael and public entertainment in University Square diminished. The police curtailed public performances by enforcing ordinances that regulated noise and loitering. Restaurant owners stopped offering free meals to Michael and the Unfortunates. Its members disbanded, went back to panhandling, foraging, and squabbling.

At 11pm each night, the drifters cleared out. Some found beds in a shelter; the others scattered to the cemetery along the city border, before the street cleaners arrived to sweep debris from University Square.

Sue Ann Connaughton is a former librarian, who has been writing short fiction from a drafty old house in Salem, MA, since 2010. Recent stories have appeared or are forthcoming in The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Oberon's Law, Short, Fast, and Deadly, Bete Noire, Boston Literary Magazine, Twenty20 Journal, Speech Bubble, Candidum, Liquid Imagination, Six Sentences, The Adroit Journal, Fix It Broken, On the Premises, and The Binnacle Eighth International Ultra-Short Competition anthology.