Exquisite Duet

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.

'Round Midnight by Indigo Moor

Your tongue lays its knife on my veins and I cringe.
I'm nine in a sixteen year old body. There's no excuse
For grown hands wandering, craving my secret flesh.
Headlights splay the dark with their Cheshire grin.

I break your grip as five men pour out of the Packard.
You make for the tree line, but Hell hounds already
Own your scent. A brick arcs past a swarm of fireflies.
Another. And you are driven to the ground by your sins.

"You did good," they tell me. "We can take it from here."
A foot clamps down on your ankle. I'm not to blame for
The clock hands squeezing the life from your temples.
It's not my fault you broke taboo and met me here.

Miles' horn leaks from the car radio, parts the high grass
To where you lay cursing my name. I sit on the Packard's
Hood, headlights magnifying my foot into a giant's boot.
If there is a Hell, we're booking our passage this night.

I'm nine. Swollen with something like reverence and awe.
There's no defending the fear that got us here. No hope
For redemption. You're on your knees begging for mercy
When the first tire chain wraps you in a hideous embrace.

Hello Weekend Warrior by Bud Smith

your tongue lays its knife
on my veins
early in, I began to hiccup
now I've got this crashed-up car
a lone *hic* survivor beer
your melted picture in a locket
least I know don't know
the *hic* true feel of war
my dime, useless in a thunderstorm
slides in this jukebox, fine
in my smoke machine dreams
I arrive early
no black eyes,*hic*
college'd, thinner
Monday morning
the spell pops
I wake
bubble belly'd
broke, dizzy
solemn vow:
if there's nothing better to do
Tuesday night
I'll seek out my center
for now I'll lie here spinning
*hic* not chanting
or 1 - 12 stepping
yesterday got your love letter
from the top *hic*
of the golden mountain
looks nice
*holds breath till blue*
*1/2 the life of a house fly passes*
I'm afraid my kangaroo shoes
aren't good for
rock peak climbing
I know you're up there
lotus flowered, purple robed,
forever crouching
that's cool, I'm in my bathrobe too
instead of visiting
I've tattooed your nickname
across my knuckles
enlightenment *hic* happens for me
when the sun rises above
the yard arm
sometimes the things we try
at 3:31 a.m.
just don't work out.

About the Authors

Indigo Moor is a poet, playwright, and author currently residing in Sacramento, CA. His second book of poetry, Through the Stonecutter's Window, won Northwestern University Press's Cave Canem prize. His first book, Tap-Root, was published as part of Main Street Rag's Editor's Select Poetry Series. Three of his short plays, Harvest, Shuffling, and The Red and Yellow Quartet, debuted at the 60 Million Plus Theatre's Spring Playwright's festival. His stageplay, Live! at the Excelsior, was a finalist for the Images Theatre Playwright Award and is being made into a full-length film. A graduate of the Stonecoast MFA Program,where he studied poetry, fiction, and scriptwriting, Indigo is also a graduate member of the Artist's Residency Institute for Teaching Artists and former Vice President of the Sacramento Poetry Center. Winner of the 2005 Vesle Fenstermaker Prize for Emerging Writers, a 2009 Pushcart Prize nominee, and 2008 Jack Kerouac Poetry contest, Indigo's other honors include: finalist finishes for the T.S. Eliot Prize, Crab Orchard First Book Prize, Saturnalia First Book Award, Naomi Long Madgett Book Award, and WordWorks Prize. Indigo's writing domain is Taming the Hydra.

Bud Smith lives in New York City, and works heavy construction in New Jersey. His books are the novel, Tollbooth, the short story collection, Or Something Like That, and the poetry collection, Everything Neon. He edits at Uno Kudo, and is the host the Unknown Show, an interview podcast. His forthcoming novel F-250 will be released in the fall of 2014. More info at www.budsmithwrites.com

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