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Part I Adulthood
Headline: Man Beats Peacock he says was Vampire
Man beats vampire—an impossible enterprise since the undead
cannot be beaten.
We have to murder our undead or else we are left living the consequences.
If I don’t kill my vampire, I will become a prescription
drug devotee. After surgery, I needed Vicodin and Valium. I know
from my TMJ that Valium is the only salve that kept my jaw loose.
I don’t grind my teeth at night exactly. I clench, tight, hard. My
dentist says I have an aggressive ‘tongue thrust’: dental lingo that
I perceive my tongue to be passive, loose, lost, and languid but
apparently, at night, when I sleep, deep in a kind of reckless slumber,
I stave off vampires.
Peacocks are arrogant. They are imbued with entitlement and
Beauty is always beaten by bloody, thirsty walkers of predawn.
I know there is no innocence because the blood of childhood has
No, we did not die.We are not exactly undead.We walk, we
work.We are high functioning and we don’t sleep very soundly or
Who is this man who shuns beauty and fills his days with fears?
The peacock equals light.
The vampire does steal daylight hours.
I am not that man. I am not that vampire. I am not that peacock.
Part II Education
Don’t answer back
Weigh no more than one hundred and twenty
Dye your hair blonde
Dress as if you want sex
Be a virgin
Never enjoy sex
Please your husband
Blow dry your hair straight
Take care of yourself
Why don’t you take care of yourself?
Don’t talk about anything
Don’t tell strangers our business
Don’t get too much education
Be proud of being an Aramaic-speaking Chaldean-Iraqi
Don’t tell Americans anything
Wear your cross
Part III Language
“Are you a writer?”
“No, not really,” I answered as I composed on my laptop.
—Airport exchange with stranger
Writer = my big mouth
Just what I fear : When I write, I get bold, bitchy. I tell all.
I expose (humiliate?) myself, discursively speaking.
This is a good week to become a drug addict. I took one pill before
I got onto the flight. I brought enough for the whole week,
the week I will spend at a writers’ workshop.
I had stopped writing because, when I wrote, I wrote about sexual
indiscretions and inconsistencies. I am not the first, nor am I
the last. I am not braving any territory that is fresh or cutting
edge. But it feels the edge of many things for me. I almost missed
my flight because I am writing, and I am relieved to find myself
braving this new, fearless terrain.
Part IV Childhood
I was eleven years old when I took a very large knife to bed with
me. I wanted to make sure my plan worked. If I took the whole
bottle of aspirin and drank half the bottle of vodka, I would accomplish
the task. I did not think I was violent enough to stab myself
but if I drank enough, I might become fearless.The aspirin was
an in-case-I-need-more option. I passed out and woke up with the
knife, feeling like a failure, useless and incompetent. I have a poor
memory, so I cannot recall the specifics that led to my many
botched attempts at death. I know I thought about it all the time
from when I was seven until I was fifteen when I became a bornagain
Christian. Jesus saved me in high school. Not the Jesus of
Roman Catholicism but some evangelical version of him that had
more energy and passion and wanted me to live.
Part V Adulthood
I am not that vampire or that peacock.
I am still here and not undead.
I am here.