Wishlist, a writing challenge

Though the TBF members were so very shy about this challenge (only one work was submitted), we celebrate pauldrobertson‘s Soliloquy, charcoal+chalk, the truth about suicide


Soliloquy. Charcoal and white pastel. My former companion, lover and friend, sat for me though she really wanted to go outside and play in the sprinklers.
160×120 cm

She is so still, so still.

The way she sits with such delicacy, perfect and human.

Exquisite… she is so breathtakingly beautiful that it hurts me to look at her.
It makes me ache for her. For her sadness that I know so well; For the scars upon her sweet skin. For her, for her.
For her.
That this moment shall ever have to end.

And here is the truth about suicide, or one of the greatest of truths, one perhaps of the truest.

ah… speak truth and long and exhale hard into the empty hearts the softness of the night



I beg some breaths from you. I want your attention for a few minutes. Let me open my heart and my wounds for you.
There are, according to me, four kinds of suicides:

The first suicides I will discuss I will not dwell on. They are the suicides of the very young, and the very foolish. They are also a real component of our contemporary lives. The child or the fool imagines themselves at their own funeral. The absolute nature of what they do is lost to them, and they go blinded and innocent before their own bloody hands. A fool ends.
I can’t help but think as their last heart’s blood drains from their bodies, does it occur to them that they won’t be THERE when everybody is fucking sorry?
“No wait, I…” and breath shudders last. How utterly foolish and tragic. A messy comedy. Another life stolen from us.

I believe that the most common is as a result of a momentary, even if recurring, definitive madness of pain.
I think that… the despair takes us in sudden gulps and sucks the sanity from us; the frail bubble that it is bursts for a bloody but succinct, specifically human succession of moments. Twenty minutes. An hour. Long enough.
The pain… spears and punctures what we are. Our ecstasy of existence, the supremacy of our essential drive to live is swept into the wilding deep by it in savage sudden stabs. The pure violence of it, that something of this scale can even exist within us fills and covers us until that is what we ARE.
Terror is the answer, our reeling cramping minds’ answer. A devastating shudder of fear locks so many into death.
It is not the pain itself. It is that the pain may continue.
It is terror of the pain, you see. That it will not end. That this will go on. The moment cannot be prolonged, for it is untenable. It must be ended. The means are visceral, ancient and brutal.
Because, in the end, so are WE.

Continue reading


$5,500 Short Story Contest

John Howard Reid & Tom Howard Short Story Contest – due March 31, 2010

Submission Period
Entries accepted July 15, 2009-March 31, 2010 (postmark dates). Early submission is encouraged.

What to Submit
Short stories, essays or other works of prose, up to 5,000 words each. There are no restrictions on style or theme. Each entry should be your own original work. You may submit the same work simultaneously to this contest and to others, and you may submit works that have been published or won prizes elsewhere, as long as you own the online publication rights.

Prizes and Publication
First prize: $3,000. Second prize: $1,000. Third prize: $400. Fourth prize: $250. There will also be six Most Highly Commended Awards of $150 each. The top 10 entries will be published on the Winning Writers website (over one million page views per year) and announced in Tom Howard Contest News and the Winning Writers Newsletter, a combined audience of over 25,000 readers.

Entry Fee
The reading fee is $15 per entry. This covers your submission of one short story or prose work of up to 5,000 words. Contestants may submit as many entries as they like.

Click here to view & enter this contest.

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

touched by fire – writing features for January 10, 2010

“A poet looks at the world the way a man looks at a woman” – Wallace Stevens

Writing is my biggest love and passion and Redbubble has some of the finest writers I have come to know. It was very difficult to narrow down writing features to a mere six. It’s been such a blessing to have such amazing artists join our touched by fire group and submit their musings to us. I want to personally thank each of these writers for allowing me to share their amazing talent with you. Here are this weeks writing features:

extinct, i won’t forget you

You are a weight sitting just above my collar bone, creeping over my shoulders and radiating down my back. Your tail slides down my spine and slaps against it occasionally.

Camouflaged within my vertebrae, you still remain extinct.

There’s no mistaking it when you slide beneath my lumbar; stubborn little penetrator.

Hiding within me, you settle into the places you like best.

You cause me to ache.

Dinosaur, I still miss you.

………to read this in its entirety – please click here.

© 2010 PJ Ryan

a consent by silence

they taught me early on
these men
that there were certain questions
i could not ask
certain answers i could not have
and because i only wanted
to stay in their orbit
only wanted to be pulled along in their wake
i became guilty of a consent by silence
as i tacitly agreed to their terms

© 2010 greeneyedlady

a witness

draw me with the weight
of your invisible form
burn me with the coolness of your fire
sanctify me
with the wonder of your beauty
fire pass through my lips
so that i might not sin against thee
oh i love you
for i long to kiss thine feet
when my lips have touched fire
then fuel my flame to desire you deeper
you are uncontaminated water
quenching my thirst with your purity
so i might rise to run after thee
to your sanctuary
i long
there is no greater ecstasy
than you in me
and i in you
sanctify me
i pray you
with the stillness of
your words
that live forever
words that were
spoken long before
i ever spoke
words that formed me
let me return to the mouth
i came from
sanctify me
sanctify me
sanctify me
with many kisses
draw me
wash me
with love
that endures
i pray you
then live through me

© 2010 Siki Dlanga

low laughter at nonsense

lying across snow covered
tracks like a well worn
copper penny
there is no concern
for chaos or control
in a cold face
making snow angels
with eyelashes
some would rage
at the lack of light
while missing ice crystals
building shadow’s night
and the edge of happiness
when the train whistle blows
as i smile
and roll

© by ebiemer

Hold Me Baby

I feel like some red ant in line
bent on embracing sanguine knowledge
drilling and willing and ‘busy’
Scenes are passing by my window like snowflakes
Coagulating in the corner of my fate filled season
Relying on rewards of reflection and virgin ethics
As I swim down your skin.

My breath rides pheromones fate and I am more alive
Inside your embrace than I can ever remember
I growl and hiss while I plummet into ecosystems
Just now discovered between you thighs
Past your tortoise shell beliefs that just began when
You kissed me on my forehead
graduating slowly to ‘guitar glee and smile strums’

Oh No!
Here it comes

a song from 1956 country top 40’s hits

(you play inside my bones

Sucking morrow for tomorrow)

“ Hold me baby
Let my tears gather round your wrinkled heart
Smooth them out
I will
Smooth them out with my
Allowing sensibilities
For all that can never be
And all that is
Good enough for a bar or two
A whistle may do
as you pass me by
I sigh
When You Hold me

Casue we never saw it coming
We never thought to see
All this loves a humming
Oracle star fire symphony ”

This buzz makes me laugh
my ears are ringing
Can you hear it too my love?

Summer’s coming soon and we’ll give birth to our
Fabricated Dreams
Created here
as we look deep into each other’s eyes
Yours are brown with earth knowing
Mine green with emerald promise
Our past heartaches develop and shape
refine and tone down the sharp contrast of desire…

wild bees in desert hives have dripped honeyed thoughts
saturated with unquenchable longing
trimmed in unfathomable fears.

This is a feeling that I almost


That I almost cannot live without
That I almost swear I shall never let go of

And moreover that feeling of ‘never’
Feels like a prison cell
Stuckedness and without blood flow
Writing on the wall and digging hidden pinholes of relief

Not enough now

As your fingers burn crop circle stories upon
My field of fate like labyrinth lullabies
Smelling lust in campfire dust.
All night long.

The next moment is best spent in each others

as you and I


© 2009 linaji

The Forgotten Braille (content warning)

Carole, thirty-nine sensed the oil shortage in her world. The constant burning of something non-renewable and her years, getting shorter. Even today the scalpel could not be ridden for long, there was a tip she had to relinquish and her love of pain would have its use-by date. “As I leave work today”, she mused nonchalantly… “I shall stand on that scalpel and feel that lithe incision one more time before I leap into the stream where my tears have cooled.”

That would come at around 5:47 she suspected, the dawning of her Renaiisance when the last five years would be cast into grassfire. Though now, 4:11 and her sex swelled. The space between her eyes was full of vaginal gel, the uprush of her passions turned intellectual and speculative. It was nearly a year since her last resigned fuck, most fittingly kitch at the office Christmas party. She still squelched at the story, the sex remained like graffiti she was too indolent to hose off the walls. The story, its cheapness and unoriginality was what tormented her.

………to read this in its entirety – please click here.

© 2009 Jim Marshall

Please visit the bubble pages of the writers we have featured:
PJ Ryan
Siki Dlanga
Erich Biemer
Jim Marshall