Each day for the month of April, the Cedar Bark Poets are writing a poem a day in celebration of NaPoWriMo, National Poetry Writing month. Poems are posted here daily. Let Katheren know if you would like to participate!
“And now for our prompt (optional, as always). Poet and artist Joe Brainard is probably best remembers for his book-length poem/memoir, I Remember. The book consists of a series of statements, all beginning with the phrase “I remember.” Here are a few examples:
I remember the only time I ever saw my mother cry. I was eating apricot pie.
I remember how much I cried seeing South Pacific (the movie) three times.
I remember how good a glass of water can taste after a dish of ice cream.
The specific, sometimes mundane and sometimes zany details of the things Brainard remembers builds up over the course of the book, until you have a good deal of empathy and sympathy for this somewhat odd person that you really feel you’ve gotten to know.
Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem based on things you remember. Try to focus on specific details, and don’t worry about whether the memories are of important events, or are connected to each other. You could start by adopting Brainard’s uniform habit of starting every line with “I remember,” and then you could either cut out all the instances of “I remember,” or leave them all in, or leave just a few in. At any rate, hopefully you’ll wind up with a poem that is heavy on concrete detail, and which uses that detail as its connective tissue. Happy writing!
My Step Sister-My Friend
Climbing trees so, so high
We could touch the very sky
Tips of Cedar in old growth
My little sis and I sure did fly
River clay so thick and true
Kim, there was only, me and you
Hours in sunshine, we created and played
Thankful for what the forest gave
We built stinkweed swamp queendoms
And charged admission
10 cents to travel our soggy path
Delights amongst ferns, pompass grass
We ate in cook shacks in logging camps
Food so plentiful, for us littlest tramps
Lived amongst electrohauls,cats,18 wheels
Children of miners, loggers, for years!!
Another forest, another youthful time
We built a fort, just ours, sublime
One day, by accident, she lit fire to trees
Her dad, Local Fire Deputy, ohhh Jeez!!
We cat called to boys, off the front porch
‘Women are Smarter’, Harry Belefonte, our reproach
A record we played again and again
We were just learning about boys and men
Living in tents, campers, cars too
Daughters of of migrant workers crew
All day, night under Canadian skies
Each day offered a new surprise.
Before grade 5, Moved 50 times
Together faced new school bell chimes
Hand in hand we held on tight
Spoke secret Pig Latin to make it alright
We both grew up and moved away
My heart yearns for her almost every day
My first true friend in this world
I’d love to visit her if only I could.
Step-Sister I miss you, always, forever
So, so Thankful that we were together
You made me happier then you ever knew
An ode to youth between me and you
I remember the challenges I felt as a child I remember the taste of tears after skinning my knee I remember the warmth of her kisses all better I remember the throbbing pain of stretching my muscles I remember the joyful pride of receiving that sticker I remember the wobbly legs as I roller skated I remember the brightness of her happiness just for trying I remember feeling a strong and brave as a lion I remember the chime of her encouraging words I remember the sound of clapping and each milestone I remember how beautiful she was when she smiled I remember the comfort of her hugs Mostly I remember all of her love.
Children Play and Children Dream
I remember the feeling of adrenaline rushing through my mind whenever I threw old records off the deck across the main road while cars were coming I remember how good it felt to do something good for my parents such as olive oil the pine table with no expectation of the poor lifestyle I remember the time we cooked a can of beans in the oven for an hour too long and the beans exploding across every wall in the room I remember aiming my BB gun at the sign on my dad’s Glass rack shooting it to find out I missed the lobster red face my dad had after finding out that his customers window was crumbled on the ground in tiny pieces I remember my dad taking and axe him to my BB gun well I think I lost my gun privileges
— Remembering Eye
I remember, I must
I remember I must
I remember I must remember
I remember I must remember to write more notes
I remember I must remember to write more notes, about things
I remember I must remember to write more notes, about things that…
I remember must remember to write more notes, about things that emote
Notes about things, I will…
What was I saying…?
I remember.. I must remember to remember to write more notes
Of Sunsets, orange banded to pinks, to reds as a running sun fled. Favourite remembrances of flowing or seemingly all knowing, poets. Old wrought grey stone faced castles, with iron strapped and pegged wooden drawbridges hauled up by links of rough forged iron chains pulled up closed over notable moats
Before my one track mind skips… Oh look a documentary on goats!
Yes I must write more… Butterflies!
where was I, oh yes more notes, thats where the thing lies
but all I can remember is that I must remember, not the things I’m supposed to remember.
The planting of seeds, Peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, herbs and the like, I shall at this rate remember to remember by mid December.
I remember I must remember, the breaking of white capped, angling breaking waves seen from the mouth of sandy, gritty beach side, root laced musty caves
I remember I forgot to remember, too busy, try me again in November
I remember on occasion, the sun breaking in an angling fan of rays though the clouds. The rain, in dots, hitting the dry pavement, darkening. The snow bank drifts in the morning after a wind, curved and sculpted into the landscape. The forking lightning bolts against a dark blue sky occasionally
I remember, surly I must, but at times my brain seizes, and has set in, just a touch of rust.
I remember to order your lemon cream birthday cake with blue iced flowers and sprinkles in May, but they just take it away, as I alway remember the wrong day,
For as vivid a recollection I have of the ninth, and the wild meadow flowers in a field, the earthy musk at a slanted picnic table of you blowing out candles of a long past party, it’s the eleventh I in fact should remember, in fact I must, but still for reasons unknown it’s the memory of the Ninth that I trust, that remembrance of a memory that into my mind, though wholly wrong, continues to bust
I remember to remember that I must remember that I must remember
the tulips coming into bloom, fine new blades of grass emerging, the first new art exhibit of the season, the colours, off setting the blandness from the off season, into life spring
I must remember to remember to write notes about these things
the first leaves of fall that change, the winter store hours as they rearrange.
songs listened to years ago, then when I still knew how to go with the flow
I remember when I used to turn my music up to 11, and all the days of youth that my days did leaven
I remember I must remember
Folded Paper bags, stacked beneath the check out stands, ‘We’re numbering ONE!’ fun finger foam hands, and Cassette players, days of partying with chips & dips in layers
the ocean shore as low and high tides set, all the creatures that under rocks and driftwood did bide and hide, the stern wind across blowing, the last time we saw each other, the first day we met
search spot lights circling the sky from the car dealership lot, the favourite worn grey denim backpack with brown leather and riveted holed straps I forgot
the old forest we’d run through, the breaching whales in pairs of two
an old rusty storage tank behind the schoolyard we’d hide behind so no one could see, and games of hide and seek through the trees
Gym class and a heavy medicine ball that weighted a ton, and a white holed plastic one that weighed none
I remember I must remember to spy with my little eye, a wall of multi coloured post-it notes almost as high as the sky.
a patchwork quilt of memories that daily I go by
I remember intently in my minds eye, inwardly all the thoughts through my skull fly, but I just have to figure out how to catch them in the right order as they go by
I must remember to remember to make notes of all the things I see out of the corner of my eye.
and set them so that before me on the wall they lie
I must remember to remember to read my notes when the days bring grey skies, I must remember to remember to read them when the world brings tears to my eyes
for I can always remember that I have notes that are there of better days to go by.