The Inveterate Life

Jessica Grim

1990 • 64 pp. • $10.00
ISBN: 9781882022045

Purchase from Small Press Distribution

A first collection of poetry described by Laura Moriarty as “Strength. With Non-stop action. These assertions are only incidentally beautiful. Vulnerability is allowed into a cadenced, breathless analysis. The past is your problem. And try to keep up. Because there is no slack,” Bruce Andrews comments, “Stress holds the real…aligns us with mystery’s arraignment.”


Jessica Grim is the author of 4 books of poetry; Vexed, online from /Ubu Editions in print from BlazeVOX [books], Fray (O Books, 1998), Locale (Potes & Poets Press, 1995), and The Inveterate Life(O Books, 1990). She co-edited Big Allis, a magazine focusing on experimental writing by women, from 1989-1996, and has participated in writing communities in the Bay Area, New York, and northeast Ohio.



Part I

Lately the air has been getting to me. I was sitting in it kind of abruptly. Dis-concentrate on the small shady movements at hand. Cause I was the, in the true sense of becoming a different person: not listening. My figure cutting no profile, not here but later, can he find the house she was occupying, the house with some shutters– but if this was all he remembered, he was up to, the big job seeming insurmountable, the bricks arranged spherically on the public square, the motion as feet crossed it dressed in the dirt. The problem of the criminal, the stores empty. I notice, the water was moving, coming toward me, count months until, across a trestle bridge galloping, picking up speed and rounding the corner, my mind not holding it, or presented to on the sand some of the people are walking. Near where the water comes to when it, in recoiling but walking too. I’m not sure of this. I knew the items in the bag I carried. Picking up speed, rounding the corner, to feel that the foam from the water; but it worked into this. Living in my clothes, a tiny notifier, a topic robbery. I remembered a kitchen, kind of white, that I’d gone to that was across the highway in some trees, or down the road from it would be a restaurant, the hot pavement cold on my feet, I wanted to see if there’s any knives or knife. And guess what. So we were of course younger. Running the same search for guns and pistols in connection with, toys and robberies. If you’ve been soothing out the tensions in the clothing of the elder son, would it put you in the position of wanting crime? Not paying the, time in terms of intention or, attention, highlighting the terms to coordinate approximately with. There was a big rock which jutted up from the sand and people would climb it.

The tailgate of the red van drops to let in the celebrities. No small pipedream. Yes, the men get around; yes, I was there when it happened. You can trust me this, this one small time. Scent of myrrh coming from the windows you pass. No football for the fans. The dark and shadowy characters are always there when the moment hits. Four gates must be unlocked allowing access. Most of the dwellings have been left to disintegrate, too.

Infrangible loathing of species known red. Incessant type to spell the cast of the incarcitude. Sibling’s arrival means renewed indifference, the cracked up torque of the mother’s voice. Not ever having seen the outside air again, the howling fools, the little vermin. Because the father is overhearing, drink the drink, and be happy at it. To dark the intent. Don’t speak now about my compromise. “Nothing but the ziti left.” Thirty dollars disappeared easy. When the family got home from the snow. Well– you say you’ve searched all the possibilities, but I don’t believe you. The Big Red News.

You keep going up, two flights. The horizon built into layers for the atmosphere to fill. Won’t the boys come home now?

Accurate depiction of day; a life where I was led by the horns over fields. We were tailing a man who disappeared in a car and never found him. Stands in the corner and takes a photograph of the interior of the building. Do you remember the causes of my confusion? It was raining, of course. Above them the ceiling buckles, but only as they admire it. I wasn’t allowed in, not in the day. Discussing choir.

The majority of our…unhappy people are housed. Or, if so, are we inclined to repair their transportations? The trembling walls beside me are but a prop. Heat presses in as I tell my story. It seems to me that that’s so. The examination of material dread. Pre-arboretum; let me get this.

So then the winter came and the air got colder.

Music wafted out from the interior. Til the dozer came. An awkwardness about remembering what you were doing in my house. Investments were topical. The man squatted at the edge of the gravel drive looking down at the irrigation ditch.

The air was clear where they were and this impressed them. So in the evening all the wilder animals came down into the forward pasture. The trickle of the timed watering system.

Probably the woman at the door is the only one living here now. If you’re rescuing someone you’ve gotta keep an eye on where they go down, at close angles. A man lying down wields a knife. Are you a she or a he? At the lake people are gathered. It’s all four men.

It was painful for too long. Is that true? “I don’t feel related to anyone.” Just people who’ve come by, more or less.

Inside the house running water from the faucet. I keep thinking this is a drama, the clothes float up around our arms in the milky green pond. Cars go by on the highway.

Grey rocks of the riverbed exposed to the sun going on months. Knocking sound on the other shore. No one crosses the bridge at this time; there’s no point in changing my position, either.

Terminals are demands. Men shouting, a woman walks across the open floor before announcing herself. Rolling around on the marble. Humming a hymn. I don’t remember it; I was reading the names of donors set into the floor.

The piece of paper with the written destination on it following me around. The rivers running so low in the other part of the country, the long drive seeming each time worth it. Thus incapable. The time slipping. I’m not saying it was a case of having drowned, I’m saying it could’ve been.

Creases in the watery landscape. The book woman wrote on coming into the conversation. The building across the way going up. The chairs’ imprint. The index cards. The runners’ failing to advance.

When the action has resumed, the ink remains dark, and the wheel turning. A gnat flickers around a desk lamp.

I was aware of a certain cadence, walking down the street. The ground to be sure of what it was in contact. I can be witness to only that. The cemetery would be viewed on a hill, but not reaching the ground, exactly. The doors to the kitchen swing inward. A perilous project. She let the key fall, which it did immediately. A piece of refrigeration near me. The war was felt to be over in any case– it’s believed in most places. At a certain time going back down, a car starting and its alarm goes off.

The malcontents of a remarkable season. A heavy woman in black and white marches across the horizon at the same time as a helicopter passes overhead. Birds tuned to the never stopped machinery of the buildings where the people live. Its plumes stuck to its frail body in the windstorm, on the ground.

We’re out one whole hour. You make little enclosed designs. On the street outside imagination halts. Reluctance takes over. Pipes filling with water. The light blares. Desk top sterilizes. You try not to be yourself. A stain from a cup. Inside my head the pressure builds. I go by houses on the street, but no more. You have a field with some wildflowers in it, and over there you have the patch where it drops away. Corrupt by propensity. Where the strength lays. He halts in frustration and rage. Other things are coming at us from other angles. The fine point. Half the doorframe floats towards me.

The defacto slaughter. A cop rifling through his tickets. Linguistic torpitude.

To have the burden of proof when even the crows flew free. A golf course, my putts consistently missing the mark. If you press on your eyeballs your vision jumps, we now have our own catalog of machinery parts.

The crying shame of, motors tokens, a related conspiracy testified, the belated attitudes of the boldly public. The diamond pattern clearer in the glass. Say the first thing comes into your mind. The bad train driver. So there won’t be a discussion. The effervescence swollen rivers, one leg to stand on. The traveling door slams only part way shut.

Fumes grabbing me into the scene at hand. Immediately being put in front of the counter by entering. Insidious blood running loose in the veins of the man with glasses, Dunlop Trees. Out by the beach it’s cold today. The tiny tires finally rolled out. Retribution and galaxies.

Bowling mechanics doubled as suits of armor in the book I wrote. Fifty-three days later the bell still without its ticker. Imagine the greatest grief, then reduce the bushel to one small bean. Recreative thinking. She dogs the most obvious schemes. Translates the breaths into schillings, and the drops a hundred feet or more. To the men in chains, it’s a waiting game. To the canyon floor. Beyond the tiny rivers and trees. The model west. Once through it we sweated sands of time.

Flooring the natives. Big meat roasting in the oven. Outside it’s more grey. Bits of tar and brick, the stupid air and the occasional footstep or yell all mold this. One facet per day. Per street. The larger country stretched out to the west. A cat walks down a driveway. If you don’t think that each thing is pieced together, you might as well give up. Placing itself too close. Arranging a ceremony with the missing people and how each will stand and what attitude they will have on that day. You think this is a joke. It’s not a joke.

Some of the images were a little bent out of shape. The building had been covered over with ivy, other things taking place. It is still cooking, although the windows are uncovered, to present people in living positions within the frames. Someone at a typewriter, etc.

Albeit the brick wall facing me – the wind between it. Someone’s murdered someone, the gong sounds. Representing our heady past. Note the dictionary on the table, the silence when the refrigerator stops its hum. Streets gone to trash, neat cars lined the village streets. Twigs snap. The brightest lot is sent among us to die. We’ll do a search for sex tomorrow.

The cratered appearance of my dearest ally. It’s a tactical town. Battle hymns. Don’t preface it with shoddy excuses. It made me observe how remote I really was. Not location, but…Smell of burning rubber. A man raises his eyebrows at the animal. If you go left and left and left and left.

She runs into the water. She comes back toward me but I am no longer listening. Aside from this we have no past, I say. No measure corrected it. The sands came in. People are scattered around. Crystal products of an internal day. He cooperates annually, though it is difficult to stay awake at this time of year, and with eating no fruit. Sleepiness overcomes me. A man with a guitar walks in. Bits of the book disintegrate. The name “Otis” written on a scrap of paper.

Waiting for the money to come forward. Liable to be walked off with if we are not careful. We have some inert people here today. A man drawing a lightbulb. How they cropped up I was not prepared to say. We’ve gone forward into the century in exactly this way.

Encouragement of the massive. The retarded governor of the small island village. If you begin in a place with a great deal of space, the process of filling it in begins blankly. But that’s not altogether honest. The suggestions which do exist are overwhelming.

The reason I don’t cooperate is this prevents me from conducting any supine or philanthropical acts. It’s a property of disruption.

The sense of intense preening sickens the woman in the stall. She’ll never forget that about the authorities. Or the way leaning is remarked. Would fanning yourself lead to more direct colloquials? Familiar with the sharp sound of the boot step. Planning to brave the crowd. It’s a slow vision, a slower vision. Six more minutes while the strategy is being exhumed; still, the ultimate insult, statements on a blank road. Who’s she to bargain once inherently placed next to the wall.? Put it so close to the boredom and servitude, trying to be more of, shuffling, carrying the book with the pink slip from room to room, from permissions infinity on out. What she calls infinity. The way they walk is identical and looks it. Air blowing down from the top of the ceiling. He keeps a notebook wherever he goes. He shows it to the guards. I don’t mean to be cruel, but I don’t exactly believe in all this. Will you do the things which identify you more soon?

I had felt so much anxiety about the tribe’s involvement. The initial feeling into an alluvial vast room.

Pardonable schemes and more lovers have had fallings out. The city rain intrigues. Water running in gutters, the huge trucks stopped in the middle of turns. Overseer of the studious and the exalted. The richer you are the more you cut off. I’ve lost all the speeches, the tiny patterns which constitute relations to walk carefully and pass unbroken amongst. You don’t meet the footsteps of the predecessors. The problem since it is taken care of the resolution the timing of it is perfect can the drops from the trees and the isolated branches.

The inculcated preparation. The unlined word. Cross-hatch the references until you know them. Still, the images leak through. Where do you publish the numbers of books? When the broken and the tiny dreams come true. What he needs to do laterally. Ways to decipher it. We had a game we played and all the players were there. Untold and countless stories later. You watch several months float past and you wonder. Up until now. The trick was with the obsessive behavior, all around. The ground being only just that. You check each one individually.

I try not to be…to describe things in those terms. I wait for an hour or so to pass. The sky beginning to look like rain. It’s wintertime, and that’s enough, that should be enough.

Rudiments of the situation, and the works not getting gummed up, the sky not moving and the plants and animals are at home today. The arrival of the missives. Blow off the keyboard.

These unfortunates. Lost in the Palisades. One of the hardest things to do is turn around looking for an empty hatch.

No wind, no rain, no countryside in here, no foul and bemused antipathy, the readers quietly reading, belts and sashes draping from doorknobs. Words to help find other words, other ways of glistening in the phosphorescent sun, the gilded neon moon. Old friends rub heads. We’re the dead entourage, the ambling trio, the mighty decongestants. On the plane ride we anticipate smooth wings. In a movie a guy jumping around, losing face. The stripes of the colors. Maintained his cool.

Toward evening the rain slackens but you’ve gutted the essential parody. The air pressure resuming in the land. The credits still flashing. The sleeping rabbis, the poisoned lungs, the oxygen at a kind of low in general.

Snow below the blue of sky. Areas where we’ve been. Red clay hills. The country looks broad from the air. It’s upsetting to see. Pieces hit obscurely together. But you don’t give in to it. You can see the small metropoli extending into the distance.

When you wake the first time you test your eyes. You expect the moment to be poignant.

Your awed hours. The valley erodes into pitch-like faces, exposing the teeth and jaw fragments. The throngs you yourself have visited. The floor plan the most direct access, proving it visible. A man placing muffs over his ears as he nears the building’s exit.

She finds the thing and circles it. I’m riding down the street in this long vehicle. Even the most meticulous setting. A call to check the condition of statues. Sitting in the festive atmosphere. People are finding their way.

She sounds the recipe. It increases within two hours to the desired bulk. A silver prong; watching someone write. Black shoes predominate. To have food being prepared; even now it’s happening. Some of the people were absent: a portion of them. The silver is smooth and cool; cooler than the air. You walk the equal line. She can see people on guided tours, plugs in their ears, they walk from one to the other of the spectacles. It started with a migraine. We could’ve gone on from there. I cannot stop to think– I can’t make the area round enough. “These were random calls.” Have you told the authorities about it?

And the itinerary bellows? Once I meet it halfway, going backwards, I can stop. This is the day I live for. Boys and girls on the train home. They argue quietly, they know eachother. I was an interesting day for that, two men watch a third man leave. The snow boils; nothing compels me.