Exquisite 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.
All the Sweetness in the World
by Helene Cardona
The dreary memory of those two words spewed out
while she lay unconscious, a place in chaos.
The truth is you can never believe what anyone says.
I flash back to years of misunderstandings, love
absolute, the importance of geography, rough lessons,
our destiny settled before we knew it.
One day my heart will stop exploding when I see her face
and smile instead. I’m not saying it gets easier.
The best memories should look like enigmas.
Each time I write I think about her, gone
with summer. I can always make sense of an animal-
like state of grace preceding the end.
Keep going, start again with your name on jasmine.
I hear the bell in The Wasteland.
That’s it. Love, powerful as roses.
See what you’re willing to give up.
by Myfanwy Collins
The dreary memory of those two words spewed out. She sat on a wobbly kitchen chair in a spot where once a spill of red wine had morphed into a rusty stain upon and within the tile. They had scrubbed that mess but nothing would do. The tiles were trashed. Garbage. That was it. That was it.
Garbage in. Garbage out.
Those were the words. Put garbage in and that’s what comes out. Not two words, but four. There was a time when words were compelling. A note, an aside, left to consider. What was left was the memory of words. A time before the spill, the wine. There was a time when words came easily, spilling, staining. There was a time. The mess of words spreading like a disease. The garbage.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Hélène Cardona is a poet, literary translator and actor, author of Dreaming My Animal Selves (Salmon Poetry), Pinnacle Book Award & Reader’s Favorite Award, The Astonished Universe (Red Hen Press), Life in Suspension (Salmon Poetry, 2016), Ce que nous portons (Éditions du Cygne, 2014), her translation of Dorianne Laux, and Beyond Elsewhere (White Pine Press, 2016), her translation of Gabriel Arnou-Laujeac. She holds a Master’s in American Literature from the Sorbonne, taught at Hamilton College & LMU, and received fellowships from the Goethe-Institut & Universidad Internacional de Andalucía. Hélène Co-Edits Dublin Poetry Review, Levure Littéraire, and Fulcrum: An Anthology of Poetry and Aesthetics.
Myfanwy Collins has published a novel, ECHOLOCATION (Engine Books, 2012), a collection of short fiction, I AM HOLDING YOUR HAND (PANK Books, 2013), and has a young adult novel, THE BOOK OF LANEY, forthcoming from Lacewing Books in March, 2015. Please visit her at: http://www.myfanwycollins.com