Trying Too Hard
and Other Poems

Trying Too Hard

Back when you’d spin my friends like a record player, I wore my role
of confidant like a fur coat. Slice a finger while opening a beer can,

fizz the gin high in tumblers, I’d cling to the edge of my raft, dangle
my gashed leg into your salt water, a phosphorescence of jazz I can

still feel licking my blood. I can’t remember how long I stood aglow
in your midnight kitchen with my heart pinned to that picture I can

still see stuck to the refrigerator: your best friend. Always your chum,
we were done, pressing our mouths at the edge of lover, playing Can’t

We Be Friends over and over. Crack open an oyster and see its spit’s
a pearl in a pair of earrings my grandmother couldn’t afford. How can

I expect you to relate? Your grandfather owned a department store.
Did you ever love me? Fingers that wish to tremble above digits can

not dial, compliments of that second self who erased your number.
I’m the Staten Island to your Manhattan, your Brooklyn, you can’t

cross a bridge to visit me, even though the ferry is free. You don’t
take mass transit, naturally. You’ll be staying in Tribeca, why can’t

I just meet you at the Odeon later, you’re paying. Plates of oysters
I’ll return to the water in the ladies room, it’s the richness I can’t

keep down. Words like unfortunately encroach on this poem, sharks
smelling blood in water. I poured myself out like a beer can: it began

with my love for your best friend, years before you turned beautiful
again. But there was a picture of me on your fridge too. Now I can

see that I was your best friend. I want to call you to let you know
I just read that the Odeon has closed, forever, due to COVID. Can

I ever admit my feelings became a phantasmagoria you couldn’t
handle? I am far too delicate. I’ve erased your number and can’t.

Friendship Ghazal

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