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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

sounds obscene.

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

need killing.

Beauty is always beaten by bloody, thirsty walkers of predawn.

I know there is no innocence because the blood of childhood has

been drained.

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

Get Married

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.

That’s all.

I am here.