Working Habits

By George Starbuck 1931–1996 George Starbuck
Federico Garcia Lorca
used to uncork a
bottle or two of wine
whenever the duende dwindled for a line.

James Joyce
would have preferred a choice
of brandies in decanters made by Tiffany’s,   
but rotgut was the shortcut to epiphanies.

The Later Henry James
bet shots of rum against himself in games   
of how much can we pyramid upon a   
given donné.

Little Dylan Thomas
didn’t keep his promise
to stay out of Milk Wood.
He tried to drown the fact as best he could.

Anna Akhmatova
Eyed the last shot of a
Pre-war cognac de champagne.
“So much for you, little brandy. Do svidanya.

T. S. Eliot
used to belly it
up to the nearest bar,
then make for a correlative objective in his car.


George Starbuck, “Working Habits” from The Works: Poems Selected from Five Decades. Copyright © 2003 by University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa). Reprinted with the permission of The University of Alabama Press.

Source: The Works: Poems Selected from Five Decades (2003)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet George Starbuck 1931–1996

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Subjects Poetry & Poets, Humor & Satire, Arts & Sciences

Poetic Terms Couplet

 George  Starbuck


George Starbuck's songs of protest are usually concerned with love, war, and the spiritual temper of the times. John Holmes believes that "there hasn't been as much word excitement . . . for years," as one finds in Bone Thoughts. Harvey Shapiro points out that Starbuck's work is attractive because of its "witty, improvisational surface, slangy and familiar address, brilliant aural quality . . .," and adds that Starbuck may . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Poetry & Poets, Humor & Satire, Arts & Sciences

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Poetic Terms Couplet

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.