Exquisite Duet: Ashley Inguanta and Michael Pollock

Exthe-duetquisite 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.


Out Creeps Aunt Greta
by Ashley Inguanta

Out creeps Aunt Greta, and she is sore
story, the plot doesn’t go the simple way
you may think. In another version,
from walking on her toes, and in this
Aunt Greta may have become
a ghost, or a goblin, or a relative
never seen—only felt. But in this story,
Aunt Greta holds everything: She’s a creep,
she’s a weirdo, and she wants to be just as far
from you as you want to be from her.

In this version, Aunt Greta walks
with her back to the wall, slides
out the door, and takes the first taxi
as far as it will go. Cousin Joe drives,
and on the ride, she counts stars, each one
reminding her of something she is lacking,
or something she has loved.

This isn’t a story of an outcast family member.
This is a story of the heart, unpainted and unframed.

As soon as the road becomes dirt,
Aunt Greta tells Cousin Joe to stop driving.

Bare feet on solid Earth is all she’s ever wanted.

When all is quiet, she slides into a cave—becomes it.

When all is quiet, she slides into a cave—becomes it.

Bare feet on solid Earth is all she’s ever wanted.

Aunt Greta tells Cousin Joe to stop driving
as soon as the road becomes dirt.

This is the story of a heart, unpainted and unframed.
This isn’t the story of an outcast family member,

or something she has loved,
reminding her of something she lacking.
And on the ride, she counts stars, each one
as far as it will go. Cousin Joe drives,
out the door, and takes the first taxi
with her back to the wall, slides.
In this version, Aunt Greta walks

from you, as you want to be from her.
She’s a weirdo, and she wants to be just as far.
Aunt Greta holds everything: She’s a creep,
never seen—only felt. But in this story,
a ghost, or a goblin, or a relative.
Aunt Greta may have become,
you may think. In another version,
story, the plot doesn’t go the simple way
from walking on her toes. And in this,
out creeps Aunt Greta, and she is sore.

 

Parrot Talk
by Michael Pollock

“Out creeps Aunt Greta…,” Lehrer chirped.

Tom didn’t hear the doorbell, so he assumed Lehrer had made a mistake. He wasn’t expecting anyone, anyway, so he continued standing naked in front of the mirror in his bedroom. A few days shy of 50, Tom looked at himself and felt reasonably happy. He didn’t imagine he looked so old, but he was concerned. Mother, who’d died recently, was plagued by sagging skin: around her arms, her neck, her back, her thighs. He looked at himself and wondered where the sagging might begin.

Lehrer chirped again from Mother’s room, “Out creeps Aunt Greta…”

Mother had trained Lehrer to speak specific phrases when something happened at the house. If she left on the burner on the stove, Lehrer said, “Turn down the flame, Margaret,” When the phone rang, Lehrer chirped, “Ding-a-ling, Margaret.” Mother carried Lehrer on her shoulder, took him everywhere, let him eat from her ear.

Tom never understood when the doorbell rang, why Lehrer said, “Out creeps Aunt Greta…” He had no relative named Greta on Mother’s side, and he knew nothing about his father’s side because he’d left when Tom was three. He searched Mother’s phone directory in the foldaway desk; no Greta was listed.

Tom entered Mother’s room still naked, and approached Lehrer’s cage.

“Lehrer? Who is Aunt Greta?”

Lehrer wagged his head back and forth, then paused motionless and seemed to focus on Tom’s face with one gray eye.

Tom drew nearer. “Lehrer? Aunt Greta. Who is that?”


ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Ashley Inguanta is a writer and photographer who is driven by landscape, place. She is the author of three collections: The Way Home (Dancing Girl Press), For The Woman Alone (Ampersand Books), and Bomb (forthcoming with Ampersand Books in 2016). Her work has appeared in The Rumpus, Bartleby Snopes, PANKThe Good Men ProjectAdrienne: A Poetry Journal of Queer WomenOCHOCorium Magazine, the Rough Magick anthology, and other literary spaces. Ashley is also the Art Director of SmokeLong Quarterly, and she is a guest editor for The Writing Disorder. Currently she is working with musician Sarah Morrison, creating a series of projects and performances that combine music, visual art, and language.

Michael Pollock’s stories have appeared most recently in Sententia. He has received a 5-County Arts Program of Pennsylvania Grant for his work and has been a featured reader at Pete’s Candy Store; 510 Reading Series; NURTUREart Gallery; and Chapter & Verse Reading Series. He lives in Los Angeles.

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2 responses to “Exquisite Duet: Ashley Inguanta and Michael Pollock

  1. Pingback: Exquisite Duet with Ashley Inguanta and Michael Pollock is published in JMWW, June 2016 | Meg Tuite·

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