What is the Project?

Posted: October 16, 2008 in What is the project?

Inside this blog are the reactions to images that I posted on a whiteboard in a classroom in a psych hospital where I work. I teach creative writing to suicidal adolescents as a coping skill. On the back of each image (Most of the images I cutout of The New Yorker magazine.) are suggestions or writing exercises. I encourage them to own their stories. Most are very creative with much insight. They possess judgment. Sure, slightly skewed at times. It’s offbeat and quirky, but the stories always have depth.

They are veiled narratives about their inner thoughts and beliefs. Most of them have a strong desire to love and be loved, and for over an hour each morning, they write and discuss fiction with enthusiasm. It releases the creative imagination and calms them. It becomes a place where anything is possible, a place where they can be themselves—free of judgment, a place where they belong, where they can feel like part of a group, a place that reminds them that they are alive and things will get better.

So listening to their stories means that I must be willing to follow where they lead me. Sometimes they lead me to the Seven Wonders of the World, and tell me they would be a great candidate for the eighth wonder, if the world ever decided to add another one. Sometimes they lead me into the depths of their suffering—a father or mother has died, a father or mother is an addict, a father or mother is in prison. Sometimes they lead me into a world of abuse that happened between the ages of five and eleven. Sometimes they lead me to a noose, to a razor, to an overdose, and I refuse to go. I make them rewrite them, because there must be a step away from this abyss. Then there are times when they lead me into the wonderful mind of their imaginations, and I never want to leave. But it all begins with a willingness to go, to listen, to hear, to follow. May you follow as well.

I do not edit the stories or correct them in any way. They appear as the student typed them. Enjoy their imaginations!

—Robert Stofel, Teacher

(If you own the copyrights to these images, know that we do not sell these books. They are given to hospital employees and nursing students only, so please be nice to us. Your work is helping them through a crisis.)

Time’s Up

Posted: February 17, 2016 in Uncategorized
dead-tree_thumb.jpgMine was quick & shocking. How nothing and everything seemed to converge into oblivion.  How can you tell what’s real and what’s a dream?
The little things that you think don’t matter will start to add up and you end up standing upside down, thinking back 24 hours or so, “How did I get here?” All of it from the miniscule secrets kept
I was once a child.  I was slightly normal.  Never once back then, would I think I would’ve ended up how I am. I think in another life I went back and told myself some words of advice.
We all have something in common: the drowning mistress, the cat in the hallway, my aunt, the train I missed, the wall that wasn’t ever finished & the girl on the swing.  We all have nine lives and are all half dead.  We’ve all somehow survived this far.  We’re all crooked trees with similar stories & different lives, just waiting to start.
Slow and steady, because at any minute, we could all fall, like dominos. We’re all addicted to a certain kind of Nirvana, which most only see in a very deep sleep or when their nine lives have ran out.
Time’s up.

the end of something beautiful

Posted: February 17, 2016 in Uncategorized
Life itself is a dead forest full of crooked trees, where straight ones are chopped down, making the crooked ones believe they are still alive. Sometimes I ask myself, “What happened to make me like this?” But then I remember, I’ve always been bitter and cold.
      Sometimes dead trees start to think they can grow new life, but then they wake up and realize they have been listening to the cat in the hallway for too long & need to snap back into reality….
     What happens to the crooked trees to make them so bitter? Where do all the twists & scars & bruises & marks come from? Maybe they are in a way trying to convince one another that everything will be fixed; they will once again come back to life; grow stems, leaves, branches. Then fall and winter will come again & their leaves will die again, but they’re already dead.  What beautiful trees ever come back to life?
     There was once a small girl that made a rope swing on one of these trees. She would spend hours out in the woods singing, swinging & was able to forget what lies within.  She just stayed outside. One day, seven years later, she disappeared and nobody knew what had happened to her.
     Everybody thought she was a happy little girl, and she was, but that day a man walked into the woods and told her to come to Wonderland with him, and she was never seen again.

the end of something beautiful

Suffering @7

Posted: February 17, 2016 in Uncategorized

suffering @ 7

I’ve been suffering since I was seven

I’ve never told anyone, only my friends

I am not a sad story, nor am I weak

I seek no attention, but only to be seen as normal

I’ve been suffering since I was 7

I’ve been touched by the hands of the one I called dad

I’ve seen bags of grass and snow in the hands of the one I called mom

I’ve wrapped death around my neck and wrists only to be ignored and suffer longer

I’ve starved, living off of noodles and bread.

I’ve seen a man speak to death and be accepted

I’ve been suffering since I was 7

I’ve inhaled the vulgar smoke by my hand

I’ve drowned in Depression and Anxiety

I’ve wanted so badly to speak to death but then,

I found a reason

A reason to live

A reason to breathe

A reason to stay

I don’t suffer anymore

I only live

I only breathe

I only smile

simply because

I know it’s going to be okay

I know someone knows what I’ve been through

I know my mother died, not by my hand.

I know it’s going to be okay because it’s going to get better

Maybe not today maybe not tomorrow.

But it will be

And it makes me feel better to know that.

But as for you

If you think no one loves you

Think again

If you know you want to die

Know again

If you think that no one cares

I care

I care if you die, cry, or hurt yourself

but as I said before

It’s going to be okay, even if you have had awful things happen to you

It’s going to be okay.

Nightmare by Claudia  

Posted: December 9, 2014 in Uncategorized

In the darkest hour of my darkest night
I dreamt that you were here lying next to me
I could breathe your warmth and feel your touch
As I melted into memories the darkness swallowed me
It choked and squeezed
Grasping my lungs and ripping my heart out
And I finally realized that I messed up your life
But that still didn’t give you the right to destroy me
My soul dies slow from all the pain you caused
Alone I’ll cry
You tried so hard to break me
You left a hole where my heart should be
I wake with a shudder and the thought of you still fresh in my mind
You may have stolen and broken my heart
But I had it first.


Posted: December 8, 2014 in Uncategorized

by Samantha

image.png Fear, horror, pain, What could I possibly have to gain? Constantly put down by you, What do I amount to? According to you I am nothing, A nobody, I am worthless, Never to be loved by anybody. I don’t believe you, You manipulate and misconstrue, None of what you say is true. You are wrong, I AM strong, I do have a purpose in life, Just not the one that you define.

The Blemished

Posted: October 9, 2014 in Uncategorized


We are open for submissions!


The Blemished is a magazine by and for high school students. If you are currently a student in grades nine through twelve, we want to hear from you. 
The Blemished is a patient-run literary magazine inside an adolescent short-term psych hospital. It was birthed on a psych ward and every submission will enter the same psych ward. Your very words will penetrate the locked doors. We’re waiting to read what you have. Please submit. Send us your poetry, your short stories, your artwork, your photographs. It gets boring around here at times. So entertain us. Make us think. Make us cry. We want to laugh, but some of us have forgotten how. We lost ourselves somewhere out there. Help us make sense of this crazy world we live in.
The theme for our first issue is “Trapped Between Perfect and Broken.” Send us stories and poems about being blemished, about feeling lost, about feeling invisible, about fallen angels, about blemished superheroes, about the forgotten and the damned. Surprise us!
The submission period is from September 15 to February 15.
All submissions should be submitted through our submission manager. Please read the Submission Guidelines before you submit. I know. Rules suck. But they make us abide by them, and they will make us reject your submission if it doesn’t follow the guidelines.

When you are ready submit here.

Strive For The Light By Willow

Posted: October 9, 2014 in Uncategorized

You can’t always get what you want. That was the number one thing I learned as a kid. Sometimes you can’t get what you need either. The world isn’t sunshine and rainbows.  Its storm clouds and lightning. Dark and scary. Life was hard. Living on the streets, rarely getting more than one meal a day. School was never an option.  I grew up learning the wisdom from my mother. I never really had any friends. New York is a big city, and we moved around a lot. But, even though we lived in poverty, I was happy. Happy and content. The negative of the world doesn’t affect me. I can see the light that resides above the dark, damp streets. And every day I strived to get to that light. It seems I have no other way to get there but on my own. I couldn’t expect help from my mother. All I could do was write. Write about each and every thing that happened in my life. And that’s how I ended up here. Writing novels that have made me the richest author in America.  So, to all you kids out there who think they can’t do anything with their lives, just remember. All you have to do is find your thing.  Everyone has one. Mine just happens to be writing. Never give up. There’s always a light to strive towards. Always.

Strings By: Hannah

Posted: October 9, 2014 in Uncategorized


These Strings Hold Me Up..

They Are Slowly Breaking …… I Wonder Why…

I Can’t Seem To Get It Through My Head At

The Slightest..These Strings Are My Emotions..

25 Strings Have Already Broken … I’m Only

Left With 3 More…But Another One Is Fixing

To Break..My Emotions Are Slowly Fading…

I Don’t Really Care Or Show Any Type Of

Emotion… It’s Like My Mind Stopped Working…

These Strings Are What Held Me Up.. I Need

My Strings To Reconnect Without Them I

Will Fall…But I Know I’m Not Alone.

Because Others In This World Fall And

Don’t Know What The Point Of Life Is



Angel of Birds by Brianna

Posted: October 9, 2014 in Uncategorized

angel birds

I’m the Angel of Birds. I fell from the heavens, and everyday I hope that I could go back. But before I got my name, “Angel of Birds,” I was just an angel. But believe it or not I’m not the only one that has been saved, the birds also saved me. It all started when I was falling from my home. I never hit the ground, my friends the birds saved me. They helped me in many ways. They helped me turn my wings back to white. They helped me turn my dark into light. The birds helped me a lot every since they have helped me be good I got to go back to heaven. But I decided to stay with the birds as they helped me. So once again I am a angel but now I am a guardian angel. And that’s why they call “The Angel of Birds.”

My name is Kat, and I am a caterpillar. Not literally of course, I’m human. Metaphorically speaking, however, I am a caterpillar. I’m inside of a cocoon. Most butterflies feel safe and happy when they’re in a cocoon but I have to try extremely hard to feel anything but trapped. See, my cocoon is a hospital. I don’t have a broken wing or fluid build up in my lungs, but I’m sick. My mind is sick. Most peoples are.

See , everyone’s a little crazy. Just like every butterfly has bright, colorful wings. I’m just nit a butterfly yet. My mind, like my personality, and everything else about me is going through changes. The hospital, my cocoon, is only keeping me safe while I transform. Once I’m safe, I’ll leave my cocoon. That time, thankfully is coming very soon.  Because of this, I am very thankful. But at the same time, I’m glad  that I was not alone during my transformation. I’m thankful for all the crazy caterpillars that stuck with me during this time. I don’t hope that they’re transformation is soon because I know it is.

So literally, Thank You. You’ve been great.