Tony's Pizza



The name on a pizza but

That wasn’t your name.

It’s just what people called you when you held

Slimy beers in your hand

When you had a pipe and some 

Green leaves, white powder,

Magic pills, street slang, fists and 

Anger that came in bursts tangled with,

Mangled with the brutality of your 

Wildfire spitting spirit.


You racked your shaved hair

Opened your mouth and spewed red war

And squinted your eyes while 

You told me 

Who was I?

Didn't I know respect?

Couldn't I see that you put a roof over my head?

Or that I filled the water too high on my hot chocolate?

That my folding of a towel was awfully corrupt with mistakes?

That I got lost way too much?


But look at me

Laugh with me, let’s pump our arms and

Put our sunglasses on, flex to the

Mirror and pretend we’re strong.

Blast All-Star, Lauryn Hill, Californication down 1960 and roll the windows down to

(Bianca, I’m your father)

The sweltering clouds, the forceful fits of the Sun

And eat awful Chinese food, and walk down the

(And when I talk to you, I wanna hear YES SIR)

Aisle together and feel bad together


And cook and cry and


Because I’m weak and you’re weak

And when I look in the mirror

Half of me is you.



You were thirty-five, and I was ten.

(I'm so sorry I hurt you m'ija)

And all the hatred was spewing through my heart 

Because I couldn't understand why 

(You know I love you)

Even though I wanted these things

And hoped maybe you did

(I'm your father)

Lies melted on your tongue like candy

And my innocence peeled off my scalded skin and

(Don't cry)

When I looked at you all I saw in your soul was— 



"I don't care about the girls, I just want my son."


But I ran, crawled, chased you,

Light and darkness of my life,

Shadow of myself,

Love I will never have,

Daughter that I'll never be.

Because all I could do was 

Hate and love you all the same.


Now seven years later and

I’m eighteen and you’re forty-three.

I can’t remember the lines on your face

Or the way you talk

And the way I placed you above everyone.

But I think about you all the time and 

Whenever I see Tony's pizza while I ring 

Someone up at the check stand my soul 

Pinches stubborn thoughts and finds the place in me

I hid long ago in black, oiled shame

And you come back to me

And you're with me and

It's been seven years but you'll always be part of me 

Haunting me, taunting me, scoffing at me




My heart seals away the thoughts of you, me, us 

When we struggled and let words and love

Drop, worn down like

The cement,

The foundation of my soul

And I wish

I could take all the love in me and put it back in you 

And your parents and their parents and their parents and

Their parents because maybe then 

There would be one less ten year old 


What the hell they did wrong when

They couldn’t find the love of a father

That was never—




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