local_library Jim Begins to Consider Himself: A Performance in Ten Degrees

by P.W. Bridgman

Published in Issue No. 247 ~ December, 2017

For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry.
For he is the servant of the Living God, duly and daily serving him.
For at the first glance of the glory of God in the East he worships in his way.
For this is done by wreathing his body seven times round with elegant quickness.
For then he leaps up to catch the musk, which is the blessing of God upon his prayer.
For he rolls upon prank to work it in.
For having done duty and received blessing he begins to consider himself.
For this he performs in ten degrees …
christopher smart (1722-1771)


1˚: The Gospel Acclamation


Duty done, the time for blessings now come,

shall I stand out in a field looking up?

Shall I fall hard on my knees and cast my eyes gently down?

“In the name of the Volvo, the mortgage,

and the cave-aged Pont-l’Évêque.”

Oh, man!




2˚: Jim at the Passport Office



Man of Vision.

“You can’t put that.”


“Nor that.”

Financier. Magnate. Tycoon.

“I’m not even going to comment.”

Venture capitalist?

“For fuck’s sake.”

Venture socialist? Sorry, just …

“Do you want to complete this passport occupation or not?”



You said ‘passport occupation’ …

“For … Shall I just serve the next person in line?”


Do you want to complete this passport occ … application or not?”


“Salesman. Okay, we’re getting somewhere. Now, height?”

Six feet, two inches.

“That makes me seven foot ten.”

Okay, five nine and a half.


3˚: Jim in the Marriage Bed


You are my living, small-g, goddess Ruth,

and as your servant I wish to service you.

“I beg your pardon?”

How shall we do this?

“Let’s not.”




4˚: Jim on a Budget Flight from Vancouver to Calgary


You’ll like it there. I promise you.

“Why couldn’t they have chosen San Francisco?”

It’s the dollar.

“What isn’t the dollar?”

If I hit the Double Diamond sales target next year,

the prize trip will be to Honolulu.


Calgary is great! There’s this amazing steak house

on McLeod Trail. What? … What??

“I didn’t say anything.”


5˚: Jim at the Bank


My gross sales have grown, year over year, 9%

on average since 2012.

“That’s impressive.”

I’m in the Double Sapphire group now and I have a shot

at Double Diamond this year.

“I’m glad to hear that. That’s great.”

Can’t you do something for me?

“It’s not that simple. Sales performance in your business

is cyclical, but mortgage payments remain

the same over the whole renewal term.”

Someone like me shouldn’t still be living

in a pokey bungalow in Port Moody.

“You’re too big a risk. Have you asked your parents

about co-signing?”

Don’t fucking insult me.

“Get out.”

I’m …

“I said get out.”


6˚: Jim at a Matinée Screening of Glengarry Glen Ross


You said this was supposed to be good.

“It’s a work of pure genius.”

It’s a piece of shit, Ruth.

“It’s a mirror, Jim. That’s Jack Lemmon looking out at you looking in.”

I’m leaving.


7˚: Jim in the Lounge at the Best Western Capilano Inn & Suites,
After a Sales Meeting


I’ll have another Ceasar, thanks. So Ed, how does MacLarty do it?

“What do you mean, how does he do it?
He works his ass off.”

Like I don’t.

“He never has a free weekend.
And he has a great Rolodex.”

There’s got to be more to it than that.

“He’s organized. He’s got a plan.
He’s always working the room. Every room.”

I’m always working the room too.

“Have you ever considered asking him?”

I don’t think Triple Platinums even talk to Double Sapphires.

“Don’t be ridiculous. Even he had to start somewhere.”

I guess.

“But, hear me. Before you go over to talk to him…”

“Before you talk to him, get rid of that tie.”

What the …

“Trust me. Just get rid of it.”


8˚: Jim at his Mother-in-Law’s Funeral


Your Dad looks so lost.

“It hasn’t really penetrated yet.”

That’s what everybody says. It’s not until all

the commotion settles …

“You’ve been wonderful with him through all
of this, Jim.”

Well Ruth, I …

“No. I mean it. His dignity is so important to him.”


“And you’ve helped him without giving him the feeling
he’s helpless. Not many could do that. Certainly not my brothers.”

He’s been very good to me …

“Are you checking your Blackberry, Jim?”



9˚: Jim at the Honolulu Airport


“The taxi driver’s never even heard of the hotel.”

He must have, Ruth. Mostafa! What do you mean

you’ve never heard of the Kuhio Banyan Club ?

“How do you know his name is Mostafa?”

They’re all named Mostafa.

“Jim, for God’s sake …”

I’m in the Double Diamond category. We’ll get a

goddamned limousine if we have to.


10˚: The Benediction


Duty half done, the time for blessings now gone,

I have stood in a field looking up.

I have fallen down hard, though not on my knees.

I kept the Volvo, although it needs a new rear end.

Ruth kept the house, although it needs a new roof
and the top floor is rented out to some guy

who’s learning to play the bagpipes.








From Fragment B of Jubilate Agno (London: Rupert Hart-Davis, 1954)

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P.W. Bridgman writes short fiction and poetry from Vancouver, Canada. His work has been published in The Moth Magazine, The Glasgow Review of Books, Poetry Salzburg Review, Litro UK, Litro NY, Praxis, Grain, Ascent Aspirations, The Antigonish Review, The New Orphic Review, Easy Street, London Grip, A New Ulster, Section 8 Magazine, The Mulberry Fork Review, Aerodrome and other literary periodicals and e-zines. You may learn more about P.W. Bridgman by visiting his website at www.pwbridgman.ca.