“Still Ill” +2 by Garrett Crowe

Categories: ISSUE 04: Eleanor

Still Ill
Bleach and peroxide fucked up,
gave me stupid hair color. Off-white
orange came shining into classroom.
Late too because I had been slobbering
in halls and glittering concrete. Too many
pills to impress the girl with the
Playboy bunny tanned in between her
thighs beside a discolored mole.

“You got anything like this on yer body?”

she said below bleachers during lunch.
Scars, sure. Childhood, pocketknives,
cigarettes. Smoothed with age and no
detail. Unsure about them.
You don’t want to show a scar, don’t-
learned that from my father
or book or movie or something.
“Scars don’t need no second guessin.”
I may have made that up.

But there were OXYs, dug deep
in pockets. “How I know those’re real?”
Palm to mouth, three of them went down.
Everything empty. Except a ring, class of
’03. I.L.L (for Isaac Lutherin Lane)
engraved in dull silver. She took it,
let it dangle down her thumb
like a horseshoe. “I gotta go to the bathroom”
She never came back, but I
put myself against a coke machine.
Heard the cooler buzz in my hands,
sure I was getting somewhere.

“Luther is fucked up.”
“Luther is shitted on.”
“Luther, get on home. Skip before trouble.”
Hell, they knew I couldn’t leave because
I came and went on the bus like everyone
who didn’t have a Camaro, Avalon, Durango.

But got to Calculus II,
although feeling calculused.
Passed out on the desk. Marble so cool
and even, it flattened my cheeks.
There, dreamed of normal
black hair, rings on ring fingers, bathroom sex
until I woke up somewhere else.

No longer class of ’03, still ill.

O Typekey Divider


A Tough Man’s Spit (To a Teenage Brother Caught Stealing Money)

Life’s Heavy, saw that on a shirt
printed with a dumbbell, weighed XXX,
like my tattoos. Triple tons the first thing I thought,
but for you– it means only thirty pounds.
Thirty pounds’s nothing, light. No
sick rats in the apartment, dogs in need of operations, mother with dimensional awareness.
No. No intoxicants, no dependencies, no arrests. No night’s like jailnight.

This all happened in one single month. I’m not lying.

Sir, you are weak with your life is light,
like the second job I ever had– video store clerk.
Video stores, they don’t make those anymore.

My life contained nothings,
sixteen-hour weeks, screeners, go home at eight,
alphabetize horror, comedy, drama, family, no porno, and videogrames– Sega, Super Nintendo,
burgeoning Playstation. That was my life, light.

Who are you to say that to me? Who are you to say that
to me? you say.

I’ll say it again. That shirt’s not vintage, and your muscles are nothing but
a sponge for a tough man’s spit. Look at these tattoos
and test me. Test me.

Look at your shirt, look at your shirt, you say.
My shirt is plain and white, but I wish it said
Consequences Are a Grim Reaper
on the front, and on the back,
I Wear the Darkest-Colored Hood.

O Typekey Divider


Two white boys trailer-learned-spirits running from the fireworks
one fell down like a pail of water Waters boring I dont drink it much now
The best whiskey I ever drank was in Seattle and I tasted it with you As if it
was introduced to me with a nineteenth century tongue Savored like
the Man With No Name who drank water from a canteen shaped like
a tambourine whites’ spiritless drum One of the few times there was
sun but clouds close by wanting to engender me I could understand why
the 90s were angst-filled like yours Im a boy again And saw the fire rise up
Wanted to taste it like wine too go down too like rain set fire and hurt someone
too make loud noises be bright too Its dark again too Perfect for fireworks
you didnt want to sell me and I didnt want to buy them from you
because white boys want to be like Indians sometimes too


Poems by Garrett Crowe
Foreground photo by Doriana Mariabridgemedia | Nike