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.
Middle Age at Midnight
by Timothy Green
was a carnival
in the beaks
of the crows
on the log
of his nose
on the face
not his face
but his father’s
Along the Third Rail
by Katherine DiBella Seluja
His mouth, a carnival. Of squalor, he knows plenty.
This life of Snicker-bits and fries from the bottom of the bag.
His head, a tilt-a-whirl of pigeon feathers and rat.
Long hours in the tunnel,
lines in his palms, only a gypsy’s daughter could read.
An ability to strum and a crooked smile,
his missing teeth never bother the tourists.
Small change always appreciated, daily commuters know him by name.
Frieda tosses a Krispy Kreme and Jared
gives up the end of his moo goo gai pan.
His favorite slogan CAN’T GET OFF THE FERRIS WHEEL in pencil
on cardboard is lucrative.
On a good day, a bottle of Colt 45 and a hot dog.
On dark days, a bed of crumpled paper towels
the men’s room floor the 5-o’clock express
rattling across his molars.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Timothy Green has worked as editor of Rattle since 2004. His book of poems, American Fractal is available from Red Hen Press. He lives in the mountains near Los Angeles with his wife and two children.
Katherine DiBella Seluja is a poet and a nurse practitioner. Her experiences of illness and healing inform much of her writing. Twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Katherine’s work has appeared in Adobe Walls, American Journal of Nursing, Barefoot Review, bosque, Right Hand Pointing, and Santa Fe Literary Review, among others. Katherine has Nursing Science degrees from Columbia and Yale University. She can be found at katherineseluja.com.