Sheree Renée Thomas

[infection] fire spirit determined to be reborn in skin
[inoculation] water, earth – three mason jars of black,
rich soil from the Mississippi River’s banks



Fire in the sky
fire in the sky
she crashed through
white clouds
white magic
fire in the sky

we cast
a rainbow spell
we burn
in the rainbow hell

burn up antinegro
burn up antigod

[c]ovid ain’t the only answer
sanity is a facade

burn up the antigod
burn up the antichrist
burn antiquities of thoughts
break the mirrors
burn the rice

black bottom burn the soul
black bottom walk the mile
black bottom burn the souls
blistering white heat all the while
her skin simmers and hiss
blueblack scatterback bliss

Black magic spell
won’t bring her back
White magic spell
won’t bring you back

Heart and heaven and spirit and hell
A spell written in the drum of skin
A tribe trapped on a blue isle forever spin
dares the darkness to dwell, dwell within

There are no photos in her house, no mirrors, and every surface carries scars. Everywhere she looks she sees the evidence of her craft, the spell that covers her skin in blueblack flames, turns her lips into bright roses of pain. She hears the whispers of the daemon that drove the other selves insane. It was the silence that took her first. The days of want, waiting alone, inside the cavernous rooms of her own dark thoughts. Even now the hiss of wind stirs inside these walls that see through knotted eyes, speak through wooden tongues but never tell their secrets. They guard them as fiercely as Legba guards the crossroads.

Fire in the sky, white clouds. Fire burn down, white magic

With water all around me, I stand in the circle of sun, but the fire will burn. One daughter under a stone in Guinee Field, the other’s ashes floating on ocean tides, all that is left is me. I am the hand and the face feeding its own fire. I am the great phosphor moth floating through the window of the soul. I am the red yellow sky burned down above me. I am the door of the ocean swung open to swallow me whole. I am the water that washes the shore of a night that never comes. I am her last self and even I am incomplete, unfinished as all the other things on the spinning top island. I used to think I knew myself, because I knew herself, but now the self I remembered does not exist. I am emptiness in the wind, I am appetite covered with skin, flesh scraped from bone, a childless mother of a splintered self, never truly born.

On this night, I struggle for the words, a mojo sign and symbol, the spell that will call my greatest self back to me. Every illusion has dropped away, my world taken apart. Seam by seam I undo myself, I am undone, rewoven the way spider webs change every nightmorning, wet with dew. In this place, time is deceptive and so is the self. The distance from one life to another is the fire between. Time has left me alone with myself. There is nothing for me to measure it by, only a single, soundless breath. A breath can take a lifetime, a lifetime a second, but the grieving, the grieving can go on years and years.

Fire burn. Fire and water. Rainbow sky spell.

[explanatory note]
The video/audio I received from Fotonik Bedouin with the legendary voice and rhythms of Lee Scratch Perry had a mesmerizing effect on me. I watched it repeatedly, allowing the spell-like repetitions, the call and the response, to guide my hand as I attempted to capture the music’s rhythms and the mysteries hidden within. The moving images that accompanied it, alternated from distortion and hyperrealism, that magical space that we think of as the marvelous real. It felt as if an ancient being was struggling once again to be reborn, to enter our world not just through sound but through flesh. I began with water, open glasses of cool water at my feet, brightly lit fragrant candles, and the mason jars of earth, soil samples collected from the Mississippi River. I tried to capture the fragmented psychology of a self that is one of many selves, attempting to walk a path between fire and water.

The water was the healing force but also one that contained the power of the being, limiting its reach and forcing it to face the complexities of itself. Sometimes the eyes we are afraid to see are our own, mirrors of the soul. For me, this shared virtual experience of solitary and collaborative creativity placed us all at the symbolic crossroads, the realm of Legba, under a rainbow sky and the watchful hand of Ògún, the god of technology.

After listening to the original video, I captured the audio and added my own aural addition, the sound of a great fire built on a beach alongside the ocean. The sound of the fire and the tidal waves accompanied by my own breathing and prayers is layered beneath the sonic collage that was created. Fire in the sky and the great ocean below.

Fire, water, earth, air. The fire repeatedly called upon in the original video, the fire of the candles I burned as I wrote, the fire recorded on the beach. Earth from the river near my home in Memphis, collected in mason jars and earth from the beach where the ocean’s waters return each night/day. The water that must come before the rainbow. The sky in which the rainbow appears. The air I breathe. Elemental, ancient energies were resurrected and honored in this work. 

Sheree Renée Thomas

[Fotonik Ògún Rainbow Spell] newly altered audio of Fotonik Noise transmission received from Ali Bedouin