My mom has a disease.
My dad has a disease.
My gums, they are diseased.
My retainers hug my teeth.

All of my aunts and all
of my uncles tease and reflect
until the whole family has turned
into a century’s old inside joke
that I’m not privy to.

The boys are chasing bad guys
And laughing at slurs.
With a scowl I sit and I stare
and think how immature.

My intense unhappiness scares
them away or at least this will be the case
if they pass me up for a hug again
but when we return home, eight messages wait

for us--from my grandmother
on the family's other side. She has some news
to share. And I’m sure that has to mean
that someone
has died.

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