John Bloomberg Rissman


I remember “All the money we worked.”

And that this is a phrase by Sommer Browning.

And I remember a few Google-Translate-mangled bits from Je me souviens by Georges Perec, because I just helped mangle them:

I remember Lester Young in a blue silk suit with red silk lining;

I remember a cheese called “Serious Cow”;

I remember Maybe the night is a witch is;

I remember “The Spirit of water and non-ferrous, yes!”;

I remember “The number of Wonder by that if you are used to”;

I remember Blaise Cendrars;

I remember “but I do not fear anyone on a Harley-Davidson or late summer.”

And I remember, not your white wall with the red pepper, but another wall, of stone this time, a Goya wall, before which kneels a man amid a pile of corpses, his arms flung wide, shirt so white, about to receive his own blood tears.

But let me tell you what I really remember, Eileen.

Je Me Souviens Three Two.

I remember driving up Wilshire to pick up clam chowder marveling at the beauty and the clarity of the towering clouds in the sunsoaked rainwashed afternoon sky.

I remember Coltrane’s Om was smoking when the phone rang.

I remember asking Diane to watch Sam who was sleeping and how quickly she moved once she understood the situation.

I remember in the elevator my mother said be ready for the worst.

I remember the loudspeaker code blue code blue.

I remember the nurse brought us his ring saying they tell you you get used to it but I’ve been doing this twenty-five years and you never get used to it.

I remember the nurse saying he looks so distinguished was he a banker?

I remember kissing his forehead too late for the last of the warmth of his living.

I remember in the waiting room being brought papers to sign papers for the wrong person and all of us laughing and I realized another family was going through the exact same thing at the exact same time.

I remember jumping over puddles while racing down the sidewalk through the rain to get the car marveling that I still cared whether my shoes got wet.

That was 33 years ago and I remember it better than I remember this morning.

6 August 2014

A Process Note:
In small part my "I remember" is a direct response to your "I forgot" (the wall), in small part it's a confession of some "literary" farting around (the messing with Perec, etc), and how silly that can (not must but can) feel, and silly it did feel when suddenly it got all serious, I got all serious (who knows? maybe a small cloud passed momentarily between me and the sun) and I wanted to tell you, you personally, something I really really did remember, so I retyped an old poem written in the I remember form and published in a chapbook (of which probably three people have copies) in 2002, and that is what this project became. Three two is my name for the day my father died (2 Mar 1981). So in the process of composing this piece for you, I remembered a remembering, which is in itself a remembering, in the last line (which is not from the old poem) explicitly so.

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