COOPER MUST DIE
Chapter 1: Eyes and Fingers
Cooper is full of eyes and fingers, and is always with
me, inside my shadow. He eats my heart, a little every
day. He runs through my veins. He knots my nerves. He
scratches from the inside. He rings in my ears.
Cooper gives reasons and explains why, always looking
and pointing. He chews things over. He ruminates. He
He makes the sound of ashes.
He makes the sound of birds.
He is my oldest friend.
Cooper must die.
Chapter 2: Cooper Watches the Clock
Cooper watches the clock. It's 3:00. It's 7:30. It's
August. It's April. You're forty. It's fall again.
The sink is full of beer cans. Nothing moves but the
sun. He looks, he points, he feeds.
I broke promises. I slept late with strangers. It's only us
now, in this empty house.
Chapter 3: At the Bar
Cooper rubs the back of my neck. He bears down.
Others laugh and enjoy each other. They enjoy
themselves. Cooper wants me to enjoy myself. He says
I deserve it. He lists my virtues and reminds me of my
triumphs. Why am I so hard on myself? He makes it
I raise my finger. I call out a name.
Everything is soft and easy.
My shadow shines like Christmas Eve.
Chapter 4: Morning
It is morning. I'm not alone. Cooper is having his
second cup of coffee and going through my pockets.
He finds credit card receipts. He goes through the
pictures in my phone. He reads the emails I sent last
night. He chuckles.
He picks my keys up off the floor. He sighs.
I pretend to sleep, but Cooper is inside me now, having
Chapter 5: My Shadow Thunders
My shadow thunders.
It's heavy. It grrrrinds across the floor. It last for hours,
broken occasionally by silence, or pitiable weeping.
Then again the thunder.
It's hard to focus. My eyes are dry, and I am so tired.
He'll be bloody and dirty. He'll want a glass of water.
He'll look at me, exhausted, his hatred like a wind.
Then he'll go away again.
Chapter 6: Gristle and Fat
Cooper shows me pictures. Cooper hoards perfume.
He holds my heart tight for her, full of old love.
Nothing else will fit in it. He guards it like an animal.
This is hers, he says. It's not for you.
But I see where he's been at it and the scraps he leaves
are nothing but gristle and fat.
Chapter 7: Rattle and Shake
I don't just sit at home. I go out. I meet people.
People have a sudden stillness, a graceless effort not
to run. They smile, frozen and pleasant, but the eyes
in their frozen, pleasant, thoughtful faces are
telescopes pointed inward, capturing their startled
souls in the very act of vowing never to become
anything like me.
In that aching moment of panic and silence we pretend
and say Oh and Ah, How nice, and [CUE ALL START]
Cooper throws himself howling against the bars.
I rattle and shake. Run, my eyes say back.
Chapter 8: Every Bent and Broken World
Every bottle empty. Every bent and broken world
shines through it. Every night cashed, flushed,
murdered, leaving no trace but a scummy film in the
mouth and a long, aching sunrise.
A moment of resolve ruined by the screaming. The sun
rolls across the dirty sky and leaves a trail. It crashes
and burns, and another bent and broken world
dissolves in flames and darkness.
Cooper smiles now and breathes close to me, and I am
so grateful and relieved.
Chapter 9: Come Home (Fall Back)
Fall back into my shadow. Come out of that bright
distraction. Come see the place I've made. Come home.
I want to come home.
Chapter 10: The Cloud of Birds
I dreamed of birds.
I dreamed of clouds of birds.
They covered the sky.
They flowed from a hole in the sky.
They surrounded me, and took hold of me.
They lifted me up.
They lifted me up, into the sky.
They carried me away.
They carried me away through the hole in the sky.
They carried me away, and I was gone.
I was gone.
I wasn't anything anymore.
I was gone.
Chapter 11: I Am Cooper
I AM COOPER and my teeth shine with gristle and fat,
and I step out into the wide, trembling, delirious world.
And I'm all alone.
from Cooper Must Die
released September 8, 2017
All music composed by Chris Black. Recorded by Gabriel Sullivan. Mastered by Jim Blackwood.
Chris Black, double bass; Samantha Bounkeua, violin; Anne Gratz, cello.
Cover art by Chris Black
all rights reserved