The poet’s rituals for the start of his work day….


 David Wagoner, born 1926, American



Ready to leave for work, I look around






Living Room, 1948, watercolour.  Andy Warhol, 1928-1987, American.

The living room of the artist’s natal home in Pittsburgh, PA.

Collection of the Paul Warhola family on loan to the Whitney Museum in 2018/19





To check windows and switches:  in the sink,





Still Life with City Hall Tower (Philadelphia), 1981, hand-coloured etching.  Elizabeth Osborne, born 1936, American.  Woodmere Museum, Philadelphia






 Cactus, 1931, oil on canvas.  Charles Sheeler, 1883-1965, American.  Philadelphia Museum of Art





A pool of coffee poured from the last cup

Gleams near the drain; the ring in the bath





Interior of house, West Shokan, NY-11

A bath in West Shokan, Ashokan Catskills, NY; with loving thanks





At its own level holds my body up;

And crumpled on the bed, blankets like sheep







A bed in West  Shokan, Ashokan Catskills, NY; with loving thanks





Crouch where the ram came, reeling, from his dip.





Not a ram but a goat and suckling kid; hard paste porcelain, c. 1772, Johann Joachim Kandler, 1706-1775, German. Meissen Manufactory, Germany.  Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY





So many rituals: two cups for the gods






 Porcelain mugs made in the eastern US between 1995 and 2015




Of the left and right temple, the grounds gone






To the right and left statues of Amenhotep III; c.1390 BCE; porphyritic diorite. Originally in Thebes and now at the Metropolitan Museum, New York




Where all libations go; on porcelain,




Porcelain cups and vases made by the British ceramicist, Edmund de Waal.  Unknown date.





My yesterday in an upright, shrinking lather;

Dial down and ticking under the pillow-slip,







Unknown provenance from an exhibition of furniture, MOMA, NY I don’t recall when





Two sheets to the wind hauled back from sleep-






 The Crossing, c. 1911, oil on canvas. A portrait of Ida Rubinstein by Romaine  Brooks, 1874-1970.  Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Washington, DC






Customers preparing for sleep on a train from Ahmedabad to Jaipur, India. 2010




I leave these for the maker of light whose rain

On the alarming morning fell again.






Rain on Philadelphia rooftops. 2008





Crossing Market Street, Philadelphia  on its east side. 

The Delaware River a few blocks behind, the City Hall in front at the crossroads of Market and Broad. A much-loved city.


  On the way to work on a day of rain. Nobody bats an eyelid because I am standing in the middle of Market Street taking photographs.

So familiar a journey.  So many years:  most of them alarming or wearying.

  But time passes and all things pass also.
















2 thoughts on “The poet’s rituals for the start of his work day….

  1. Fascinating collage of mood and yet anchored so very creatively in the personal. Thank you.

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