Don Colburn




Distracted by a Man Talking to Himself


I don’t dare look up. He might be
staring at me and then what?
We’re on a bus stuck in traffic,
wrong side of the river.
At least I have something to read.
He’s sitting directly across,
but it’s not me he’s speaking to nonstop.
I want to get back to my book
of difficult poems by one of the greats
I’ve tried hard to understand
but that won’t work now
with this other voice in the way
whose words I don’t quite catch
yet can’t stop listening for,
the tone so true that if I heard it
through a flimsy motel wall I’d know
his need. Know if he was pissed
or plastered or deliriously glad,
singing to himself or chatting up
a woman. Know if she was right there
or on the phone or in the bathtub
with the door ajar — or on a bus
inside his talking head and mine.



Don Colburn’s poems have appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Innisfree, The Iowa Review, Ploughshares, Poetry Northwest, and Southern Poetry Review and won the Discovery/The Nation Prize. He has published five poetry collections, including four chapbooks; all five found publication by winning or placing in national manuscript competitions. His newest chapbook, Mortality, With Pronoun Shifts, won the 2018 Cathy Smith Bowers Prize, and Hunger Mountain awarded him this year’s Ruth Stone Poetry Prize. Other honors include residencies at The MacDowell Colony and Yaddo, and five Pushcart Prize nominations. Mr. Colburn came to poetry in the midst of a career as a newspaper reporter for The Washington Post and other papers. He was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Feature Writing. He has an MFA degree from Warren Wilson College.








                                    

 

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