Howie. Not a poem
A social worker came to my back door. I don't even remember if it was a girl or boy social worker.
"I think Howie is dead, can I use your phone," the social worker said.
I looked down those stairs to the basement, five or so steps.
Yes, Howie was dead. Somehow fell down the steps, legs and arms at an awkward angle. Blocking his own door. Stiff.
What I knew about Howie was he was a cook. He was always drunk. I went into his basement apartment sometimes to play chess and drink peppermint Schnapps out of shot glasses.
When they took him away, the bends stayed. The bent at right angles knees and elbows poked under the blanket.
But this is all tied up with the days. ...
the room mates, Charles and Byron. The quesadillas Charles would make with corn tortillas, Munster and jalapenos.
Their young passion for photography and their darkroom in the back of the house we shared which led me to the camera. The chemical smells of darkrooms, the dark calm patience, swish of liquid in the trays.
A Beethoven bridge between my father and my life because that's all Byron would listen to, that damn classical music. And my mom taking Byron to a Bob Dylan concert, or was it Neil Young, because I couldn't go and I can't remember why but I remember how wrong it was.
And then the more piles on until I am drowning ... the moped, the Rocky Horror nights, red curtains and red roses on the wallpaper of my room. Wooden floors.
His hair stuck out all the time, long and wavy, sticking up.
Both statements are equal.
I earned my degree, then became something else, but Howie was dead all the time anyway.