“Don’t Walk Away from Me While I’m Still Talking,” John Dorroh

Chidago Canyon Petroglyph


“Don’t Walk Away from Me While I’m Still Talking”


Don’t leave,
don’t leave now.

After all these years of me flipping you off
& calling you names behind your back.

Don’t leave while my mouth is open
forming words that seem to fit neatly
inside your tacklebox.

Don’t leave after one Pabst Blue Ribbon.
Don’t leave after you’ve begun to see me
   as a man.

No one does that to me.
Not even you who I’ve secretly admired
but was afraid to say. I’m an asshole.
How could I not say what was on my heart,
what was in my head, that I was proud
of you for fighting in two wars,
that you took care of me, fed me,
took me fishing, drove me to school,
that you didn’t tell Mom about the telescope
I got for Christmas, how I unwrapped it three times
& used it long before Christmas morning.

You won’t see me graduate from high school
or go to college. You won’t see me do
whatever it is that I end up doing.
I’m sorry that it took so damn long
to crawl into your space

and it’s your fault for leaving me now
when I need you most.

How dare you.

John Dorroh



Review by Michael T. Young

Desultory as a conversation, this poem wonderfully transforms the title, a comment usually heard in an argument and leaping from there, seems to put us into one, but carries us seamlessly into an elegy and the regret of the speaker. The blame the poem ends on registers with an irony that carries in it a profound regret for not being honest with the people in our life while they’re still with us.

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