TBF Group Art Features – Week of February 21, 2010

This week I was moved by color.

“Red is the ultimate cure for sadness.” ~ Bill Blass
Red is the color of passion and fire. It’s also associated with energy, desire, love, and danger. The human mind is drawn to it. Red is a conflictive color, conjuring up images of romance and caring and at the same time war and violence. It’s symbolized by both cupid and the devil. Studies have shown that it can even create a physical affect, increasing heart rate and raising blood pressure.

“There’s something strange and powerful about black-and-white imagery.” ~ Stefan Kanfer
Black and white has also been a strongly important visual medium. Even after the technology for color was created among the different mediums, many people are loyal to achromatic colors in film, photography, newspapers, manga, etc… Black & white often has been associated with colors of unity, opposite forces joining hands, conscious and unconscious from which a greater unity is created. It’s sophisticated, retro, mysterious, and timeless.

In visual arts, both of these color choices provides the artist with the ability to force the viewer to focus intensely on what they wish. I hope you enjoy the pieces I selected to represent both the fire of red and the mysteriously elegance of black & white.

angel by strawberries

TBF Group Writing Features week of February 21, 2010

I’m so excited to blog this weeks writing features for the Touched By Fire Group. This blog post brings a wealth of emotion, inspiration, self-examination, and moments frozen in time.

First of all I have to say that I’m a huge fan of Faith’s painting and art, and didn’t realize she was also a poet. Her paintings have such vivid color and emotion and power embedded within them, and you will find by reading her featured poem she paints the same emotions with her pen. I felt empowered after reading this piece. Each time I read it I found different ways to take the words that she strung together. One thing is for sure, she let lose and the rain fell and it was quite a storm.

The Rains by F. Magdalene Austin

You pray and dance your rituals
Created a god to whom you offer sacrifices
In exchange for a promise
That the rain will fall.
For the harvest must be full
And the tide must pull just right.

I could bring in the breeze with a few clouds to break the sun’s sting
Or shower upon a land fire and cut off its hunger for power.
When dry grass gulps from drops that make your windowsills ping
I hear no sigh of relief.
Why did you wait so long?
Why didn’t you save the trees and
Why did you let destruction take so many?

How cramped are the clouds with their tumultuous hordes of
Resentment and disdain that churns into a spring storm
And brings the driving rain.
The roar and lightening gives you a glimpse of what I fully perceive.
Release upon your land is the only way to maintain my sanity.

I’m bound in so many separate places
Across a sky that does not end.
Frightened by fierce rage, my courage is running thin.
The eye of the storm is here
I can’t hold this in.

It is clear I’ll do too little or too much
And some how mess it up.
Heaven cannot hold me, and mere men cannot prevent
The reclaiming of my sanity when I let go and the rains begin.

F. Magdalene
Copyright 2007 © F. Magdalene All rights reserved

Another writer I recently fell in love with is wildwomenlove. This passionate wordsmith lays it all out there with writing full of wit, despair, humor, romance, the list is endless and her writing is fearless. She’s been working on a series with a character you will meet in this feature that has quite the personality. I encourage you to go back and read the rest of the series.

Eloise Le Blue thinks aloud, do you? (part 4) by wildwomenlove

One should never forget to love someone…

Eloise was kicking back and having a glass of red, she loves a good Pinot, or Merlot, or Shiraz in a blend, so long as you couldn’t stand a stick up in it, I mean some red’s are just so full on, don’t you think? Anyhow she was just chilling and she started to thinking about hanging out with friends, and having a good laugh. Eloise snorts when she laughs, she loves to laugh and when she does out come the snorts, like piglets at a trough, which make her and everyone else laugh all the harder, snorting and laughing, snorting and laughing till she’s rolling around holding her stomach. Funny that her favourite song is Babe’s la la la la laaa song, cos she can remember all the words! ha haa haaa snort, ha haa haaa snort.

Well anyway just the other day she was banging away on the keyboard conjuring up a short story, cos she loves to write and it occurred to her that she hadn’t checked her emails, so she logged on to Red Bubble and here was an email from her friend Sudsy Malone, it’s always so cool to hear from Sudsy. Sudsy had been up to some extraordinary mischief, and it occurred to Eloise that it’s so fun to share random concepts with friends of this calibre, so cool. So she banged up a punchy retort, and sent it flying across the ethers, smiling all the wider for her luck in captivating a friend like Suds, woohoo.

Anyway back to Californication, oh sorry we weren’t quite there yet. Eloise loves Californication, not that she gets to see it very often, cos she always forgets what night it’s on, but when she does happen to flick on the television and Hank Moody smiles down at her from it, with his brooding good looks and his designer stubble, she purrs a little purr and settles in to catch a few of his smart arse comments. She so appreciates a good smart arse does Eloise, a funny one, not a pointy one.

Just then Elektra walked in, followed by Elsie and Elvira and one at a time they each jumped up to sit with her on the couch. Elektra jumped onto her lap and immediately started purring, and jabbing and Elsie and Elvira lay together spooning, while they all watched Hank slink out his funky moves. The little tribe cohabited in a purring fest, sharing the love and licking their bits, a lot like Hank really and life was good on Ebenezer Road.

© wildwomenlove stories

clancy214 describes herself as an amateur photographer, singer, writer, and artist. While this poem is untitled and she mentioned it as ramblings, I loved the flow and feelings that drip down each line, rather like taking an evening walk and letting your mind wander. For a wonderful way of taking me on this gradual stroll into the feelings of missing someone and trying to get over them, I was happy to include it in the features.

Untitled by clancy214

and you with your this and that
and here and there
make it hard for me to think about
nothing but you

waking up and falling asleep
and driving
and walking
and writing
and always this constant melody
in the back of my head
singing your presence

so i shift my focus
like they say to do when driving
and those little spots appear before your eyes
but my you spots don’t disappear
they just cloud my vision
and my train of thought
goes off on your track

and i try a little harder
and i keep myself
busy busy busy
so i can hope to remember
to forget
how nice it is when you
are lying next to me

© 2010

Ahhh I do love a good write from Bill Bell. His tender, thoughtful writing never disappoints me. This featured poem is a beautiful write about a moment in time when a person finds themselves in a place of starting over. Such a poignant and moving poem.

Bardo by Bill Bell

A small apartment
found after the relationship
not filled with much furniture
no things to speak of
a toothbrush
survival things mostly.
The view
of the parking lot is peaceful
no arguments or drama
you brought up your boxes
in a state of roaring sadness
but now
even the trees look sublime
everything is new
each breath has a deepness
each smell says hello.

© 2010

MagpieMagic is another multi-talented woman whom I’m so glad to have in our group. She’s a wonder at photo manipulation and obviously quite a writer too. This poem spreads a message about freedom of the spirit, being brave and true to our dreams. A very beautifully written piece with a powerful message.

Join the Revolution by Magpie Magic

As one door closes
another shuts in your face,
your freedom curtailed,
but they always forget
the roof light and
the mouse hole in the skirting board.

Imagination and
the creative spirit
cannot be pinned down,
or filled with lead,
or hanged, or quartered
or buried in the ground.

Snap on your wings
fly in the shadow of the stars
discover the macrocosmos
in the shimmer of a tear
and the microscomos
in the glow of the universe.

The revolution lives
and truth shines in
the light of the moon,
forever in the souls
of those who believe
that there must be more.

You called me monster,
you called me Jezebel,
you called me many things
but my true name
is a secret lodged
in the hearts of the brave.

© Sybille Sterk

Markezz is an inspiration. His poetry always shifts a focus inward, to a point of self-reflection and meditation. This thoughtful piece asks the question – what happens when being true to oneself defies the wants or feelings of those you love? Thought provoking indeed.

INTEGRITY by MarkezzAckui











Thanks to each of the writers above for submitting their work to Touched By Fire. I hope everyone enjoyed the thoughts they brought to the page.

Poetry Contest – Bellingham Review

The Bellingham Review describes it’s mission as “Literature of palpable quality: poems, stories, and essays so beguiling they invite us to touch their essence. The Bellingham Review hungers for a kind of writing that nudges the limits of form, or executes traditional forms exquisitely.”

They are holding a contest for the 2010 49th Parallel Award for Poetry. 1st prize earns $1,000. There is a small entry fee and a few requirements that need to be met – read the details here. The final deadline is March 15th.

Group Challenge Winner – “Bring in the Heat!”

Our “Bring in the Heat” challenge brought in the best of the best when it comes to raw, hot emotions. Thanks to everyone that supported and entered the challenge.

Congrats to MagpieMagic for her winning entry “Heart of Fire” which will now be the avatar for our group.

Here are the remaining top ten pieces.

Writing Features – Week of February 7th

Toxic – Anthea Slade

Fifteen minutes of annhilation each morning
One way transmission bombarding our minds
whilst strategically choosing the next one
to manage out.

Micro…Micro…Micro Manage
Not happy unless inflicting
intense pressure and critical poison on the staff
with the aim to destroy and drive out.

Time is an assassin
Health issues pandemic
Insomnia, Anxiety and Depression
Rising blood pressure
Pending heart attack
as they turn the knife of abuse.

Emergency of the soul as it starts to collapse
Red light as the character continues to corrode
Squash down, destroy staff
Sell and con up to upper management.

Distant management that does not show face
as the manager is given carte blanche to kill their underlings
by severe pressure.
Staff poised ready for the onslaught
Who will they slaughter next?

Narcissism at its most impure
the manager looks only at their own reflection
I am a good manager and if
you don’t like it you can leave?

They remain unchecked as they manipulate
the upper management to believe
the staff are corrupt and have turned against them…
as staff march out the door each month?

Staff leave quickly just to escape the environment
Unemployment rises
Recession intensifies
We are urged to empower clients
but at the same time staff
are being abused by management.

Given more than is humanly possible to do
they set us up for high anxiety and
emotional breakdown
that leads to mental failure.

Decay of character in
the new work place
Post Modern dilemma
as rashes form on our faces
calluses form on our hearts.

Autocratic…dogmatic rule
Who gave them permission to
destroy peoples lives as
the hammer falls and falters on our heads?

Blood yellow Face black
Conquer and divide the staff
by favouring one staff over the others
Not giving credit to those who are deserving
Rewarding the favourites
Creating internal competition
Making the staff feel uneasy and
insecure trying to devastate inner peace.
The manager’s actions alone trigger all kinds of
passive resistance.

High attrition and absenteeism is not a sign of bad staff
but is instead an indication of the
ineptitude of management.
Still the reasons for leaving remain uninvestigated.

Their hostile actions make
hypocrites of what they preach
As they do not practice
a win win win mentality
instead they destroy destroy destroy
No compassion is demonstrated.
Insensitivity is rampant.

Makes our blood boil
blood pressure rise
we are a time bomb ticking
and only financial vulnerability
keeps us soldiering on.

Time is thief
Life is a betrayer
Passive resistance is the only protection
as the staff must put on the armour of war
before each day they enter the door.

Only the need for survival keeps us there
As the hostile environment demands
that to survive we must disengage
Rather then submit to the murder
of our hearts and souls.

They the chosen ones
ride on the success of the hard work
of the victims they hammer
and yet no recognition is given to those
who should receive it.
The manager micro manages all because
they do not trust their staff
to get the work done.

The manager moves with reckless abandon
hammering, white anting, conquering and dividing,
the beast the corporate psychopath.
A power path destroying the fabric of business
and hence society.
Is it really true that 1 in 10 managers have
the profile of a criminal psychopath?

The cult of the criminal mind
the insidious undermining
the blatant favouritism
the shocking destruction of others
where they target and abuse
until either the person leaves
from high anxiety or complete breakdown.

Staff struggle to breathe
Trying not to drown as
they tread water in the muck of this abuse
So exhausted by the energy used to survive
they are too drained to look for work
Self esteem is eroded
beyond recognition.

Who told them it was ok to make the workplace
a War Zone?
Each word is a bullet of soul destruction where
the knife cuts the core out of our hearts.
Where they set one individual up against another.
Where muted mind try to unravel brilliant minds
Where words always have a motive and
Where nothing is what it seems
Where walking in the office the vital energy is sucked dry.

We pray to escape
We long to break free
We hope to survive and
reveal this so others do not have to be
subject to this utter abuse of the soul
Because this manager is TOXIC and this should
never have been allowed to happen.

Enough already.
Out out out dammed spot.
The destroyer needs to be destroyed
and Toxic transformed to healthy
environment where collaboration,
voice and professionalism reign supreme.
Oh yes this is my cry and this
is my dream.

Path Connected – linaji

It does not take much to stay connected
a stroke of your life seems to blend easy with mine.
vibrating essence of thoughts engage living wisdom
taking precarious moments to lunch
thereby exchanging fear for feasting pleasures.

This you have taught me. (hallelujah lyrics)

We stay connected as we serve each other
by pleasing ourselves bathing in star crunched hot springs
embedded outside the peripheral along the path
birthing connective tissues
allowing life to be the leader as we absent-mindedly (follow with heart)…
hand in hand
smiling deeply
smelling the rose petal of existence
reflecting souls terrestrial flower as our lover.

ending up where the beginning feels like rain
pounding down on a shelter of our love
we stay connected
we know we are on the path leading to


Falling – kashmirecho

She’s always been running
Racing towards a finish line
That she couldn’t see
Accident prone
She trips
Falling fast and hard
Scraping her knees
She gets up and starts again
Only to fall harder
Each time she falls again
And she keeps falling
But it doesn’t stop her
From trying to win the race

Voices Of A Sunken Slave Ship – Tenchtownrock

I can hear the voices
of those who had their tongue severed
speaking from the depths
patrolling the dark parts of the ocean
like Shadrach Meshach and Abednego
the hands of angels that fell asleep
in their misery now guide their path
keeping them safe until heaven
is ready to forgive itself for breaking their hearts
the dead voices must be preserved
their history is written on the ocean floor
with the paint from their warrior faces
that were stolen in the midnight hour.
A king was taken while he loved his bride
under an African moon that failed to warn them
his seed fell to the ground never to flourish
when chains became his jewelry of choice.
A pregnant queen snatched
from her throne whilst her blood
suckled her life from nipples
that were supposed to give him kingship
to lead a nation into ever after
he now leads in death.
Tattered sails cover the remains of a young boy
who has become a man on the ocean floor
he still plays with his bamboo toy.
A mother and daughter sit on the bottom
she is still braiding her daughter’s hair
like she was before their hearts stopped breathing
they refused to live the moment after.
I can hear their singing
a soft spiritual
that unites their voices
from Ghana to Sierra Leone
Abidjan and the Cameroons
they are dancing in their tribal wears
warriors from Senegal
with spears that were given back in death
a slave ship
coming alive with history
that once sleeps.

TBF Group Art Features – Week of January 31, 2010

“There are moments in life, when the heart is so full of emotion That if by chance it be shaken, or into its depths like a pebble Drops some careless word, it overflows, and its secret, Spilt on the ground like water, can never be gathered together.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I believe this quote and these beautiful pieces of art speak for themselves… if you are touched by them please visit the artists pages and leave a comment.

TBF Group Writing Features – Week of January 31, 2010

“There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.”
~Walter Wellesley “Red” Smith~

I know I’ve read good writing when I can taste the blood that was laid down to make the words. Each one of these pieces have that element – the raw outpouring of soul that gives them their own life. They each amazed me in their own right and I’m so glad to have the honor to blog about them.

Vagabond Odyssey by Trenchtownrock

I am more than just words
that rain from my tongue
becoming pure fire
that burns passion of pumping fist
removing the callouses from the chambers of heart
reminding feet to get up and march
the dead needs a voice.
I am more than the history of my skin
that provokes my heart to do and say things
causing stares from those who are tired
of this journey and has gotten off the road
maybe someday they will need a hand
of a Samaritan.
I am more than the noose that still speaks
their stories written in my head
searching for a proper ending
my ink has not yet dried
so I am still trying to write it for them.
I am more than fire hydrants’ voices
whose wet bodies are dripping with the sixties
and church pews mercy for strength
they still speaks to me even when I want them to be quiet
their cries still haunt me
waking me nightly
they sit and wait though I feel tired.
I am more than the many trouble I have caused
prompting God to send his angels numerous times
to defend my actions
keeping me an uninvited guest
from Lucifer’s party
I will fall short again tomorrow….it is written
and I hope they will come once more.
I am more than the Caribbean sea
and the death in the ocean from centuries ago
that still walk on waves hallucinating
they can’t find their way back
their cries break me.
I am more than the laugh
and silliness that overcome me at times
wearing that feel good moment
I have learned that peace is good
and tears are tiring.
I am more than the back porch tears
with morning prayers to a God
I am struggling to hold onto
I can feel his fingers peeling away
while my wings rest in a holding room
I haven’t made my case fully yet.
I am more than that knife held with a teenager finger
my adult hands still reminisce the pinch
feeling the love that I thought it held
some days I wonder what if.
I am more than the eyes in my head
that play the memory of bedroom secrets
stealing from a boy who is still standing and watching
I have never recovered
I can’t recover
my heart is too precious to open
it is all I have
a woman’s body I will always love
their tongues I will never trust.
I am more
just give me sometime
to look more deeply in your eyes
and see if your heart and my heart
can walk this narrow path.

© 2010

Umbilical Mother by Wildwomenlove

Looking up
amongst her leaves
I lay quite still
the air I breathe
smells pure

I roll face down
and claw the ground
send my umbilical
spiralling round
her earthen core

I breathe in grass
and shoot a blast
of pent up rage
down my umbilical mast
back deep into her molten well

She adds my rage
to the molten fire
co-creating earth
and my hearts desire
as one

This loving Earth
with great round girth
holds me, and tree
is inter-planetary
and so much more

She lives
she breathes
my rage she sees
clawed to her crust
and sets me free, once more

I hope I didn’t burn the worms…

© 2010

The Poet by Bill Bell

The Poet

I heard you died in Tibet
no doubt dressed in black
the walls of your dispair
too high to climb
so your friends
played music around the walls
and waited.

Your gums turned black
yet you smiled aware
your brothers death
your mothers health failing
you turned the haiku
for in a breath the senses
can confirm
a candle in the window pane.

High upon the snows
high above the world you expired
falling into heaven
falling from the spire
exhausted flame around you
the smoke streams from black to white
I expected a pulling up
but you fell into the frozen sea.

Where one day
like Virgil you emerge
into the wood it was but but a scene
that you had taken me on
the seventh ring
I hear music
and the beating of my heart
you gave me the word
that had always existed
the poet that you were
and the light then emerged.

© 2010

Wrap Remedy by ianez

my plexus a mess.
i awoke in unfamiliar spaces.
pressing my eyes around
four walls of some
unfurnished room.
there hung a fervor of estrus in the atmosphere.
i felt every utterance that escaped
my ample tonguesnips.
they devoured the exhausted aftermath
of labored.. … . breaths
and sebacious finger.prints. … .. no.presses.
ten digits tune my facets.
i was alone, ardent in the glow that snuck into my oubliette.
the omnipresent peering of a sickle soft moon.
lunar silent stalker, you do what you must do.

want to scape a for you tonight
feeling lushly
the lusc,
less romance
more; precise decimation.

you are a guided missile.
i am the film of mosquito wings
i am you, as neuroptera.

swoonly into your palms.
penned in the posture of your
plebeian grammar.

© 2010

how many parts walk in an alley by Lisa Jewell

I walked home alone
what if I turned tricks?
what if I licked my lips
holding hands with a demon
I no longer be sweet
I looked for ways home
would the heart of death
point the way
I spewed pomegranates picked by winged angels
would I
see the future
if I told you
do not
to be heavenly
I do not aspire to be the burning pit of Hades
I told you
living in a cave
is not cold
it is
like heather on a hill
it rides the tiny hair on my legs
if you met me
walking down a dark alley
you walk on by, scared
take a chance
not knowing
I’m sweet

© 2010

Permission to be Brilliant (on Mandela) by Siki Dlanga

In a dream I wrote you a speech. I was important enough to be in the same room as you. No, I will be honest in the dream I was still not important. It was the fact that I only had my name which holds no weight that made me feel significantly more important to you in the midst of great names. In your presence was every reason to feel so much more significant because it was dreams of my freedom that kept you imprisoned for 27 years.

I looked at your face and it lit. Lit by dreams that have been fulfilled as you looked back at me. Your aspirations would be fulfilled through me, my friends and grow through our children. I would love to see you but I would rather I gave you rest so that you would greet one less person and have more rest so I visited you in a dream. I remained brilliant for at least 2 whole minutes. My heart spoke a fresh word because I had seen your face in the reality of my dream. I tried to read my speech but my words diminished because your person filled the room in a way that contrarily suddenly made me feel great.

What makes you so much greater is that our country is rich in resources and minerals. We have diamonds and mines rich with different kinds of gold as if it were all not enough, we have you. In that moment my heart realised your South Africanness makes us so much more affluent.

The name Mandela now robes the hills, the mountains, seas and islands of our country with a royal mantle of dignity and honours anyone who calls themselves South African. Your name adorns our many coloured flag with admiration. Your name is no lesser currency or wealth than the gold and minerals of our land.

The children covered by your 46664 campaign will benefit not only for themselves but their children’s children also. You gave us a future. By your life you lifted the lid that kept us in captivity in the land our predecessors had once freely grazed their cattle. By your carefully chosen words as you declared the new South Africa born you made us realise our own greatness. You challenged us to get out of our inferiority complexes’ and gave us permission to be brilliant.

I know there is a God because it had to take a superior-being to design such a master plan. We were a country that was so broken and desperate for a miracle. You are the perfect miracle at 90 you still amaze us.

Last year in the 90 minutes for Mandela, I wrote a poster hoping the camera man might put it on TV but decided to etch it in my dreams. It reads; “you have shown us how great we can be. My gift to you is that you will not be the last great South African because there is nothing enlightening about shrinking back.”
© 2010