Disjointed by Ben Cooper (Creative Resident) #1

2 Apr



Welcome to the first of 4 post slots from our creative in residence for April- Ben Cooper  who, over the next 4 weeks, will be sharing some of his pieces with us. Here’s his first one: 


My thoughts, a multicolored multitude swarming, a light breath could tear them apart. I wonder where they would land ‘n what they would form? In my hand a yellowed crumbled coffee-stained bit of paper with indecipherable squiggles, ink faded with time. Sometimes I try to read it. Thoughts strung to together like crooked paperclips always falling off or notes that lost their sticky backs that keep floating off the board. Yet I keep writing.Time is meaningless here. Time here isn’t told by the clock’s hands, but by meals that are never looked forward to. A yellow substance the dinner lady swears is eggs. It’s morning. Pale limp ghosts that hang off the fork…chips. It’s noon. A piece of dry sandpaper drowned in gravy. It’s night. No one complains. The dinner lady is kind, ancient ‘n very proud of her food.The matrons care for us tired children. They blunt the scissors, hang the phone cords behind glass boxes at night. People have tried to kill themselves creatively here. No pencils are allowed here, but pens are welcome. Until someone tries to stab their heart out with a pen, I can write with ink.

The paint is locked behind a solid door, far too precious for us jaded children to waste. Sometimes they let us in to play…if we’re good. A girl painted my nails ‘n gave me a unicorn she made to protect me when she went away…a bit of color taped to the dark wood of my door ‘n on my hands. Rudy laughed, but her art is hanging in his window to color the sun. She was a strange delicate thing, the ward was more of a home to her than anywhere outside.

I have gray on my chin ‘n the matrons coo over me like a grandchild, wondering after a future that I’m unsure that will even be there or that I want when I get out.

The bookcase held no books, but many games with missing pieces. While we played Scrabble in the dark, while Bill mocked my terrible spelling, he told me about his misfortunes tinged with triumphs ‘n grinned wicked every time he won. Alaska whispered ‘n fish jumped behind all the tiles jumbled in my mind. A flash of happiness in the darkness, Bill liked to win big.

To wake up to screams not your own…every night. Every day my eyes were shadowed. Every night he bellowed, memories haunted his sleep. He tried to drown them out on the couch, watching basketball, cops, anything to fill his head. Florescent lights flickering a lullaby to him.

The yard holds no green or flowering thing, it blooms with high walls, metal benches, cement ‘n cameras. Not even a breeze escapes untamed.

At the window of the nurse’s station we line up like ducklings waiting for our colorful bread crumbs.

An ex-military man ‘n an eighteen year old girl swanning on about their love of their AK-47s, that was my morning…by the way she liked her glock more. ‘Merica.


My black haired flower, so easily crushed in the moment. People kept spitting out your diagnosis in your face, a mark against you, like that’s who you were. Bipolar, your mother ‘n all your ex-boyfriends shouted. They never saw you….a loving mother, a kind woman, flawed ‘n all the more beautiful for it. Strong…stronger still for weathering all the storms ‘n staring other people’s madness in the face……



Hi I’m Benjamin A. Cooper, okay at writing, terrible at writing bios ‘n very happy to be a part of this project.




You can see Ben’s section of our first Hot Potato Collaborative Short Story here.


Ben  will be back next Wednesday (9th) with another piece of his writing. Tomorrow, we have poet Mandy Gibson’s second ‘FreeSpace’ revisiting  a previous piece of hers which she has specially finished off for us. Hope to see you there! 


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