Exquisite Duet: Matthew Nadelson and Michael Gillan Maxwell

the-duetExquisite Duet (formerly Exquisite Quartet) is not so much a composition between two writers, but rather something created within the murky midlands of each author’s mind, yet set off by the same first sentence. Meg Tuite chooses two writers each month and gives them a first sentence to start with and a 250-word limit to finish an exquisitely mesmerizing story or poem. These duet-dueling writers will craft two completely different cosmos that have rotated, pitched, and blasted from the depths of their cerebral cortex to the twitching nerve endings of their digits onto dueling keyboards and separate screens until their sublime duet is prepared to see the light of an audience.

Enfermera Dolorosa

by Matthew Nadelson


You drag your fingers through my life

the way that needle of a nurse pinned me down,

and grinning, asked a 19 year old me,

“How does that feel?” as she, allegedly

in order to assess what seemed to be

a bladder infection, although I never paid

the 37.50 the health center billed me,

to get my results. (Later, the Regents wouldn’t

let me graduate until I paid it.)

So she shoved a metal spike the size of a screw

into the tip of my penis, grinning, pressing harder.

I wanted to ask if she needed to go so deep,

but she said she needed to scrape

the lining of my urethra

to get a sample, and it was over so quick

that I couldn’t tell if she was grinning

from malice or shyness that brief moment

she held my frightened bloodless cock,

peeled back the foreskin,

and slid the metal tip in, grinned,

asked me how her weapon felt inside me,

pulled out, and walked out, leaving me

bewildered, naked.  Then returned,

told me to pay up front and come

back in two weeks for my results.

Now every time I have to piss and can’t

I see her stupid smirk.

You’re laughing? Fuck you. What do you know?


I know a razor on the neck                                

                 releases the heartache.

I know a pen against the page

                 releases the pain

I know we speak and write not what

                 we know because

                 we do not know.

We speak and write because

                 we want to know.

What do you know?


I know I want to know

you.  Drag your fingers through my life.         



Along Your Golden Coast

by Michael Gillan Maxwell


You rake your fingers through my life

with smoke trails of memory that flicker

like images in an old movie.

I wandered the vagabond trail,

followed the twist and wind

of your serpentine spine

and shuddering fault line,

peered down from cliffs

at the sea ravaging

the jagged shore below,

slept on your beach

shrouded in mist and strewn with eel grass

stranded by the ebb tide,

listened to the song of sea lions,

basking on boulders as black as obsidian

in the pale morning sun,

sailed around

your terrible demon-hold

that solitary rock with no escape,

felt the roll and pitch of the boat

under your red bridge,

surrendered to your veil of fog

as it engulfed everything,

watched tugboats push cargo ships

through the deep channel

between Land’s End and the Marin headlands,

heard low-throated foghorns

warn vessels away

from shipwreck graveyard shoals

at the hungry mouth of your Gate,

lay flat on my back

in a redwood forest

gazing up at the canopy

while all around, tree trunks

stood as columns in a hushed cathedral,

sentinels bearing witness

to the passage of time.




Matthew Nadelson lives in Corona, CA, where he has taught writing in the Riverside Community College District for the past 8 years and led various writing workshops in the community for several years. He is currently leading a bi-weekly creative writing workshop on alternate Tuesdays from 7 to 8:30 pm in the Taber Room of the Corona Public Library. Matt’s writing has appeared in about 30 literary journals and anthologies, and his first collection of poetry, American Spirit, was published in August 2011 by Finishing Line Press.

Michael Gillan Maxwell is a writer and visual artist in the Finger Lakes Region of New York state. Maxwell writes short fiction, poetry, songs, essays, lists, recipes and irate letters to his legislators. His work has been featured in a number of journals and anthologies. He served as associate flash fiction editor for JMWW quarterly journal from 2012-2014 and he is editor of MadHat’s Drive-By Book Reviews. A teller of tales and singer of songs, he’s prone to random outbursts and may spontaneously combust or break into song at any moment. Maxwell can be found ranting and raving on his website: Your Own Backyard  http://michaelgillanmaxwell.com

4 responses to “Exquisite Duet: Matthew Nadelson and Michael Gillan Maxwell

  1. Pingback: WORKSPACE – Michael Gillan Maxwell | REVOLUTION JOHN·

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