Here Lies Daddy

Your baby talk convinced me to

ignore Mama.

How was I to know that behind

your glassy eyes

a monster told me what to do—

and now I remember

how Mama used to cry

and you were hushed by her sobs.

You see, Daddy,

Mama sang the lullabies while

you shot tequila and lines,

until your eyes

 bulged from their greasy sockets

and your tongue

hung slack from the chemical numb

pulsing through your veins.

And sometimes

the cocaine blues had you

slumped over my tea-party table and

crying into the porcelain

arms of my favorite doll.

And sometimes

you forgot to say

“Happy Birthday”—

That day I could see

your face swollen by the sun

and lolling

on your shoulder

while my friends took turns

swinging at the piñata,

 a hanging masochist on a limb. 

The piñata split,

candy spilt,

and amid the chaos

your face contorted

like a mask

bursting from the seams

as you heaved

colors onto the grass

 to celebrate

five years of my life. 

There you were, Daddy,

lying in a puddle,

strung-out

next to the ruined piñata, and

Happy Birthday, Nancita

was scrawled on the cake

that you took down

with you as you fell.

And sometimes

Mama had no idea where I was—

trapped in your black Cadillac

as it veered past

the neon bible of a church,

with me clutching

the stained leather seat,

 praying for Mama,

and imagining my death

by the slip of your wheel.