I Remember

Last week at St. Mark’s Bookshop (one of the oldest, best, and few still-in-business independent booksellers in the five boroughs) I came across The Collected Writings of Joe Brainard. I’d never heard of Brainard before last week, but I’d recalled skimming a review of the recently-released title and, though I can’t remember what in the review had piqued my interest (perhaps the fact that Brainard was a painter/illustrator first, writer second), something had, and I lost myself in the book for the ensuing 45 minutes. What I discovered in TCWoJB  is a unique, beautiful, honest voice, as well as a memoir entitled I Remember, which is included in its entirety in TCWoJB and is the basis for today’s prompt.

Brainard’s I Remember is a nearly 200-page-long book whose every paragraph begins with the same two words: “I remember.” Here’s an excerpt:

I remember the only time I ever saw my mother cry. I was eating apricot pie.

I remember when my father would say “Keep your hands out from under the covers” as he said goodnight. But he said it in a nice way.

I remember when I thought that if you did anything bad, policemen would put you in jail.

I remember a girl in school one day who, just out of the blue, went into a long spiel all about how difficult it was to wash her brother’s pants because he didn’t wear underwear.

I remember the first time I met Frank O’Hara. He was walking down Second Avenue. It was a cool early Spring evening but he was wearing only a white shirt with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows. And blue jeans. And moccasins. I remember that he seemed very sissy to me. Very theatrical. Decadent. I remember that I liked him instantly.

I remember liver.

I remember the chair I used to put my boogers behind.

I remember my parents’ bridge teacher. She was very fat and very butch (cropped hair) and she was a chain smoker. She prided herself on the fact that she didn’t have to carry matches around. She lit each new cigarette from the old one. She lived in a little house behind a restaurant and lived to be very old.

And so today’s prompt, which you might’ve guessed (and which I’m looking forward to trying out as well), is to mimic I Remember‘s conceit, and begin to write a piece of prose or poetry whose every paragraph begins with the aforementioned two words: “I remember.”