Sunflower Skins

January 21, 2012

Vote Harvey Dent

Filed under: art — Tags: , , , — Sunflower Skins @ 1:14 am

September 29, 2011

Banned Books Week & Kathy Acker’s BLOOD AND GUTS IN HIGH SCHOOL

September 24th – October 1st is Banned Books Week in the United States, celebrating our right to free speech while recognizing the problems of censorship that still prevail in communities all around the world. Just this past week the Missouri school that removed Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse-Five” and Sarah Ockler’s “Twenty Boy Summer” from its shelves has allowed the books back into their library—on a shelf closed to students without parental permission. As I have suggested elsewhere in my writing, restricting access to information, historical accounts, art, and ideas that may not necessarily agree with our own is not where we begin to cure problems of racism, sexual abuse, violence, and intolerance; that is simply more intolerance. Free speech requires responsibility, so let us enjoy our freedom and responsibly continue to create and share provocative, inquisitive books that perhaps take us out of our comfort zone and challenge our own ways of life. For more about Banned Books Week, visit the American Library Association’s statement about celebrating the freedom to read. Canada’s own Freedom to Read week is February 26 – March 3, 2012.

Taking part in the Virtual Read-Out, Sunflower Skins presents a selection from Kathy Acker’s Blood and Guts in High School:

[Though I didn’t do my best Acker imitation, which is, I’ll admit, pretty good, I donned my Kathy-in-her-undies Nymphomaniac tee. Thanks to Thom for patiently putting this together.]

 And now some of our favourite moments in ‘scandalous’ literature:

“Kidney of Bloom, pray for us

Flower of Bloom, pray for us

Mentor of Menton, pray for us

Canvasser for the Freeman, pray for us

Charitable Mason, pray for us

Wandering Soap, pray for us

Music without Words, pray for us

Reprover of the Citizen, pray for us

Friend of all Frillies, pray for us

Midwife Most Merciful, pray for us

Potato Preservative against Plague and Pestilence, pray for us.”

(Ulysses, James Joyce)

It was a close place. I took it up, and held it in my hand. I was a trembling, because I’d got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself:

‘All right, then, I’ll go to hell’ – and tore it up.

(The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain)

He kept standing there. He was exactly the kind of a guy that wouldn’t get out of your light when you asked him to. He’d do it, finally but it took him a lot longer if you asked him to. “What the hellya reading?” he said.

“Goddam book.”

He shoved my book back with his hand so that he could see the name of it. “Any good?” he said.

“This sentence I’m reading is terrific.”

(The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger)

“It seemed to me that the house would collapse before I could escape, that the heavens would fall upon my head. But nothing happened. The heavens do not fall for such a trifle. Would they have fallen, I wonder, if I had rendered Kurtz that justice which was his due? Hadn’t he said he wanted only justice? But I couldn’t. I could not tell her. It would have been too dark—too dark altogether….”

            (Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad)

Finally Brother Leon looked down.

“Renault,” he said again, his voice like a whip.

“No. I’m not going to sell the chocolates.”

Cities fell. Earth opened. Planets tilted. Stars plummeted. And the awful silence.

(The Chocolate War, Robert Cormier)

That evening while the Stupids were watching television…

… everything went dark.

“I can’t see a thing,” said Mrs. Stupid.

“We must be dead,” said Mr. Stupid.

“Oh, wow!” said the two Stupid kids.

            (The Stupids Die, Harry Allard)

July 30, 2010

Experiment 16: Octopussy

Filed under: experiments, prose — Tags: , , , , — Sunflower Skins @ 1:26 am

Of course the seas eventually revolted—but the revelation began with the octopus. Creeping up her leg, a twisting, tangled blend of colour and form—oozing its juices, smelling hers; surely this looks extraordinarily unusual—perhaps even kinky in your vocabulary. Let me assure you of one thing: it is fantastic in every sense of the word: a wildness within, a thrill of my senses, heated pheromones distinctly indicative of their desire: —

Can we not explain it somehow? Through art or pornography or whatever you choose to call it? Of course the seas revolted—they probably would have regardless of the home or the health or the heartbreaking—but perhaps, for some of the stranger of us, the turn of tide began somewhere with an octopus—on a girl—in a pen&ink sketch—in a screaming/exhausting novel? Maybe. Weird fantasies, atypical thoughts: wherever it started, arrest the perverts and plagiarists for planting the seed. Call them to trial, lay out eight lines of text and ask them to eat their own words.

They will, I can tell you.

We are hungry with desire—but we are not ashamed to stuff our mouths (or our cunts) with the strange and beautiful books that offend or concern, or with the art that so initiates, discovers, and eventually sustains this new life form.

The octopus curls—claim it—around my leg, and I am still getting used to the pleasure. But it is somehow familiar. Sucking, throbbing, rubbing—I remember what this feels like: text—ink—tattoos—tongues—

Touch me, touch my octopus.

September 16, 2008

Excerpt from “Paradise Within”

July 29, 2008


Filed under: prose — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Sunflower Skins @ 5:07 pm

It is the summer of 1890, July. Paris is hot. Relief can be found in the wheat fields.

Lie my head back into the soft ground. Tall golden stalks surround me on either side. Van Gogh loved his absinthe so, his vision was yellow. My colored eyes, huge, flicker up to his face. I’m Sien, drowning myself in the river, I’m Theo, watching over with a brother’s care. I’m Kathy, walking through the beautiful light.

How could I have not known the wound was fatal? I put the revolver to my chest. And yet it took two days to die.

It is a common misconception that “Wheat Field with Crows” was Vincent Van Gogh’s final painting. “Daubigny’s Garden” is more likely, although he spent many of his last days gazing sublimely around Auvers. The painting that survives depicts a foreboding sky with black clouds rolling in and a flock of crows flying over the field. They are held to be the symbol that Van Gogh knew he was about to die and some critics claim that he killed himself while painting it. Three paths of indecision weave their way through the wheat.

The canvas stands before me naked and pale like a beautiful woman. Masturbate in front of me. I began to use oil paints eight years ago. Now I dip the fine hairs of the brush into a glob and paint a long, dark sky threatening the hardest rain to ever hit the fields of Auvers. The yellow and amber wheat is shining like patches in the sun. And the black rooks fly off into the horizon: leave death in their wake, or go forward towards it,

Three paths. Choose.

I take the brush and paint a long, dark line down from my collar bone to the curve of my left hip, stroking, just barely, my pelvic bone. Desire. The oil lies on top of my skin in thin layers and it will not dry for a long time. Not while you’re here. You are not here, Vincent. Desire is a dream with your face, he says, desire was a dream.

“La tristesse durera toujours.”

It is the summer of 1890, July. Paris is hot. Relief can be found in the wheat fields. My eyes, huge, flicker up to my reflection in the glass. This is not my final painting. No one knows but see it in my own face, speak last words but I’m painting, painting. The black crows are flying, flying away–


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