August 30, 2009


a set of notes* before “Schizophrene.”  Never coming.  Not wanting something in return.  Tepid.  Immigrant, immigrant, why are you so scared to get in trouble?  Calling me up.  Spitting down the phone like that.  Then hangin’ up.

1.  An immigrant flares at the periphery of a long time comin’s vision.

2.  An immigrant rephrases the sensed outcome as the weirder feeling of vengeance, as in, “I can taste it.”  Written but not as yet re-written, the immigrant is a classic example of a clunker, a term most commonly applied to decrepit Toyota Corollas after a decade of Rhode Island winters, all that salt, but which I mean to be an appellant.  An appliance.  A fridge.  A stove.  A toilet.  A scarf.

3.  Nobody is emigrant.

4. “ I walk through the summer forest.  It’s abandoned.  Only five or six flowers are securely in bloom.  A white one, a yellow one, a red one, and three light blue/purple ones.  In late July, I was walking on a gemstone path carved into the side of the mountain.  Mica.  Quartz.”  Nouns are magical to an immigrant, fundamental to a middle class education.

5.  When an immigrant falls ill and festers, there isn’t, in this country, a category for the expense.  There isn’t provision.  There isn’t a bed.  I exaggerate.  I’m thinking ahead to the late adulthood of my relatives.  But let’s be positive.  Let’s make some nourishing bacon and muenster cheese soup.  Let’s add some turmeric.  Let’s add some garlic, onions and tomatoes fried in oil.  “I can smell it from the lobby.  Why can’t they just open a can?”  Verbatim.  My ear to the door,  the corridor, with its flickering fluorescent rack, tiptoe on the ragged little mat.

6.  Also: the children of immigrants….watch out for them!  They have unsatisfied desires in both directions, towards the festivals experienced in diluted form as to Christmas with its aluminium snowflakes rotating in the window of a neighbor or even the credit union, with its pastries of bank notes balanced on trays in the safe.

7.  It follows, from these dull notes, that immigrant sexuality is one disaster after another.  A genital response, for example, displaced to the eyes or the thumb…but that’s not wrong.  What’s painful, I’d imagine, is the search for an appropriate and dynamic mate, an erotics of the mouth, the tip of the tongue extending to the duct, which is volatile.  Salty.  A person who would not blink.

*I imagined each note to take a page but when I went back to examine them, the notes, I cut them back.  I killed them down, compacting the spaces between.  How did you spend your summer?

Bhanu Kapil is an escaped dog of some kind, an immigrant de-packed but available for visits to…well….dog parks.  Apart from this, she teaches writing year-round at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, and as part of the low-residency MFA at Goddard College in Vermont.  This semester, she is teaching graduate classes on experimental prose and memoir, and an undergraduate class on narrative and architecture.  Since 1998, she has had a private practice as an integrative bodyworker, focusing on a fusion of soft tissue/structural and energy work.  Three full-length works of experimental writing have been published by small presses in the U.S., most recently “humanimal [a project for future children]”, from Kelsey Street Press.


One Response to “BHANU KAPIL”

  1. Wil Says:

    Am I an emigrant or an immigrant?

    These days it feels more the latter but remebering you now it reverts to the former. Inspired to words (again) by you and your somehow unbelievable faith I take a few moments to reindulge my memories.

    [A beer, a sugary sembe (pron. sembay)…but let’s not get distracted…]

    “Let me count the ways” of dogs in sweet shops dreaming of the top shelf you tried to appease me with your tongue but for once I wasn’t standing for that and nothing really making much sense anyway.

    After all who is not some kind of -grant?

    Hey B.K. – so fine to know you are still here.

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