Tuesday, July 19, 2016

everybody's talkin'

Favorite version of Everybody's Talkin', by the songwriter, Fred Neil...

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

10 years

a vagabond's sketchbook is 10 years old today. It's been a savior to me. A place to come to dissipate despair. And loneliness. A faithful sketchbook to grab up in my hands, scribble a vignette or two, then clutch to my chest for comfort, so to speak.

Thank you, Dear Reader, for visiting.

Saturday, June 4, 2016


Photo by Flip Schulke for Life Magazine

Sunday, April 24, 2016


"Pass the bread, Dear".
"Here you are, Dear".
"Thankyou, Dear".
There were thirteen for dinner at eight. By seven after eight, eleven of the party could form a vision of targeted host backhands without looking up from the main course, forks on the way to their mouths, or with muffled orchestral triangle sound of knives clinking forks. A delicate sawing motion.
"Butter, Dear"?
"By all means. Graciously, my Dear". There was the first flash of gritted teeth.
"My pleasure, Dear".
Eleven folks had to swallow hard now it seemed. Three of the party actually read something in the Sunday Times about how to deal with a domestic dispute just last week, and panicked as they couldn't now remember the five step program. In four of the party, gentle lamb was reluctant and suspicious passing the esophagus. One esteemed member, an actual doctor in a tight bow tie, grew rather queasy as he imagined the lamb portion fight its way towards the inlet to the diaphragm. He would quit his practice the following day, a Monday I believe.
"Dear, try the bean casserole. It's simply marvelous".
"I will, you old cow".
There was no clinking. People stopped chewing. It was like a deer in the headlights.

photo by Tom Chambers

Saturday, April 23, 2016


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

all the rage

Milky white complexion
cast by the uncorked carafe
of the cresent moon.
Assiniboine headdress
stitched of flighted feathers
plumed with rusty barbed-wire
twisted, defiant and uncompromising.
Every American girl will want The Look.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

next please

"What's so hard to understand? What don't you get"?
"But this isn't what I want", gesturing to the slight offering. "I'll say it again - I want hot biscuits with gravy and cold orange juice. Simple".
The man pointed. "What. Do. You. See. All.I.Have.Is. Bread. And...."
"Look. I traveled a long long distance to be here. In this spot. Now give me what I want, please, my good man!"
The proprietor was thougtful. "You came a long way?"
He peered around. "I see no cart, no vessel." He swallowed hard and was barely audible versus the gentle wave upon the shore. "No footprints in the sand", he said to himself.
The visitor pointed to the horizon beyond. "From yonder".
"I see no boat".
"I need none".
He looked at the bearded man, mouth shakily opening, no words. Dropping to the mans feet, he clasped his hands into the sand and began to weep.

painting by David Ligare

Saturday, March 26, 2016

ny 1962

Don't much care for being stared at. Especially playing chess. Children are the worse culprits. Two ways to deal with it. Stare back is the easiest, man. Or - "Here kid, 75 cents. Go across the street and git me a package of Newports".
"I'm not allowed to cross the street, mister".
"Take the dollar. Go on. Bring me back twenty cents. You can have rest for candy. I can't leave this game. Git".
Her eyes widened. Candy whats did it. Reverse psychology of ease of giving candy to a child.
"Here. Git".
She went. Crossed the street. Didn't look both ways. When the ambulance arrived he was at the corner, hands in pocket, watching the scene, trembling man. The mother was wailing louder than Times Square. Damn.

photo by Damien Derouene

Thursday, March 10, 2016


Hearts will never be practical until they can be made unbreakable. -- L. Frank Baum

Wind chimes scaling on the porch in the air of the open cafe reminded the mezzo-soprano of those tough to reach notes of the woodwinds in the last night of the opera. She preferred the violins, or upright cello, or even a shiny shrill cornet, versus the hunched over oboe gal sweating in the third chair, madly in unrequited forbidden love with the woman in the first chair down in the dim lit orchestra pit. They were separated by a large man in chair number two, yet he was winded most of the time, sweat seeping through his tux at the shoulder blades. Those double-reed low tones rattled the mezzo's bosom. She always felt the oboe should only accompany a goose. And that reminded her of the autograph man at the stage door steps in the alley commenting how he'd never witnessed a mezzo with such a small bosom.

She smiled as she wrote about it all in the letter to her true love, so many miles away, across the ocean in some time warp where it was night and music came from ear buds and not deep dark pits. A pale sleepy waiter in magpie black pants and pristine white shirt with tight collar set down tea and cakes, and stood for moment as though he was about to speak. He recognized the green-eyed singer, was in love with her as many male Britishers would admit if you stopped and asked them to speak directly into the microphone, but hopelessly looked down at his shoes and walked away, heart racing. His throat was too dry to quote Shakespeare.

The wind chimes were silent. The singer reread her note as she sipped the last of the hot tea, straight, no cream. Her throat felt rejuvenated, able to sing the phone book if challenged to. She'd much preferred to make it a love letter, but alas, it was only a fragmented note. She folded it twice, sealed the envelope and tea-kissed the triangle flap with her eyes closed. She hesitated at the postal box, not in love after all, brushed her bosom searching for a pulse, and began to weep.

photo: Keira Knightley,Atonement

Monday, February 29, 2016

artist and model haiku

Sunday pallet love
Harmonious palette blend
Fiery pastel tone

painting by Cesar Santos

Tuesday, February 23, 2016


"Did you lose something"?
The man watched the robed imposing figure, down on all fours out in a field of flowers, gently rocking to and fro.
"I most certainly did", the large man chuckled.
"Wallet? Contacts"? He looked closer at the bearded man. "Mustard seeds, perhaps"?
"No. Just a bad batch of mushrooms".
"Oh. I see. Can I help you up"?
"I can manage, thank you. I am the Lord after all".
The man shook his head sadly. "Sounds like you still have those mushrooms coursing through your innards".
"You don't believe me. I am the Lord".
He held his arms out. "Show me".
"I can't".
"I knew it".
"You want me to wave my hand and, oh, make it snow purple violets maybe? I don't work that way".
"So you work off the ol magic mushrooms then"? He laughed.
"No. I only work off the power of faith".
"Well, I work off the power of whiskey". He raised his hand to his chin and thought for a moment as though trying to recall. "The Lord walks into a bar and says to the bartender"......
"STOP"! Thunder crackled angrily in the distance. A chilled wind came up and the man shivered. The large man stood up shakily and held out a palm to the man. "I've heard that one".

art: Christ in the Wilderness by Stanley Spencer

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

the meeting

It was a balancing act along the rocky shore to get a good photo in dawn's light of a magnificent checkered lighthouse that appeared to me to be the anchor for all the firmament above. The silence was golden to boot. There was only the occasional after-shave like slapping of waves upon rock formations. I welcomed the good soaking of my city shoes. There was no scenery like this in the badlands of Indiana I must say.
But there was a another sound beyond a shallow dune as I worked my way back up a sandy trail lined in pompous grass. It was the sudden cry of hopeless grief. A woman stood erect and motionless upon the rocks looking out to sea. I moved closer as the echoing grief dissipated.
"Hullo there", I called. She did not move. Closer to her now, I could see she was holding a harpoon. She appeared to be in a wedding dress and wearing a gold emblazoned black wool jacket of an 18th Century nobleman. She had long magpie black hair tied in back.
"Hullo", I called again, breathless now, barely audible, at the bizarre site. "Was that you. Crying, I mean?" She turned her head and said her first words as though she expected me to be there.
"He has gone". Her voice was low and thick, not the cadence of a woman who had been grieving. A British actress at the edge of a Royal Albert Hall footlight I'd say.
"Who is gone?" I stood just back and to the right, pushed my glasses up closer to my eyes, and peered through my binoculars into the burned out morning mist trying to be helpful. I'm like that when I see a woman in a wedding dress standing on rocks, you see.
"A man", she replied.
"The groom"?
"A man I was going to kill", said the bride.
"A groom then, I see", I nodded.
"I was going to kill him", her voice cracked. She dropped the weapon and turned away. I could tell she was crying. Her shoulders bobbed.
"I'm sorry", I said. For the first time she turned around and moved towards me.
Her eyes shined.
"You're a kind soul". She searched me with those shining black eyes up and down. "You're dressed most unusual", she summarized after the inspection. "What is that around your neck?" I touched my binoculars. "Binoculars".
"What are they for"?, she asked.
After explaining the theory of magnification, I noticed she wasn't paying attention, but looking sternly into my eyes.
"Your eyes are different. More knowing".
"That's me", I said humbly, "All knowing".
We were silent, close now, looking out. I was about a foot taller. My heart was calm, never calmer. Dizzying wave after clear wave rolled up at our feet. I asked her her name. "Tatyana," she answered, like I was her first. I told her my name. All three names. And then she said goodbye.
"I hate goodbyes", I said. "Must you go?" I loved her. "You can shoot me if you want".
She smiled and touched my face. A lovely pale hand. She picked up her harpoon and we shook hands like Russian comrades.

photo by Caroline Knopf

Monday, February 1, 2016

how it was

It was a Sunday, as I recall. Holmes kindly offered the extra soft bed as we arrived at Baker Street the previous night in a heavy mist seemingly coming up from the saturated ground. Mrs. Hudson had hot soup and a silver container of scalding black coffee ready for these cold bones, bless her sweet heart. Holmes did not eat, instead curled in his favorite chair in the dark, smoking and watching the smoke rise. I knew well enough not to interrupt his tortured thoughts, so I retired quietly.
In the morning I was awakened briefly by the repetitive creaking in the hallway from pacing footsteps upon the wooden floor. And then there was a sliver of candle light, the door bursting open.
I sat bolt upright, clearing cobwebs from my eyes and mouth.
'Holmes! What's wrong?'
'Bring your revolver!'
There I stood in my bedclothes at about half past seven, blue steel gun cocked, Holmes hiding out of sight at the window behind the curtain, fearful.
'Watson! They are after me.' He could barely speak now, a hopeless wisp of his former voice, chest heaving in and out, gesturing for me to come to the window.
I looked sleepy-eyed down into the blue morning mist. It was quiet, except a poultry wagon, with the insignia, Moriarty's Fine Poultry and Vegetables, had lost a wheel and had spilled its contents into the street. A happy, patient dog, tail wagging, was devouring the spilled contents. My friend looked deathly pale as I turned to him.
'Those chickens, Watson. Running across the street over and over and over again. They are after me. Mean devils!'
'Calm yourself, Holmes,' I pleaded kindly. 'There are no chickens. Sit over here, old fellow.'
Then it dawned on me. As Holmes was hunched over, shivering, I walked over to the desk. Yes, it was there. The dreaded empty syringe. I grabbed his arm for close inspection.
'Oh, my dear Holmes. My dear Holmes.'

This is how it was, occurring in various forms, in the darkest shadows of his life. The greatest man in London, I would like for it to be known, despite these shadows, was a rather splendid and fine fellow.

art by Adolphe Valette

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

art class

"And what did you learn in art class today, my dear".
"Well, it's....kind of hard to explain, yet simple". She was hesitant.
He looked over the top of the newspaper. "What"?
She cleared her throat. "It was how to express movement in painting, as in a windswept horizon".
"Oh". He was buried behind the sports section once more.
"You see", she continued, "the teacher is rather eccentric".
"They all seem to be", he mumbled.
"Do you want me to show you"?
"By all means", oozing sarcasm from behind the box scores.
"Like this". She stood noisily. He dropped the paper. She underscored with hand movements. "You tack a canvas to the wall. You put one brush in one hand, and grip a second tight in the other, and..". She pirouetted, arms outstretched, a sight to behold for a brief few seconds, losing her balance and taking out a table lamp. The cat sought high ground. "Like that", she said breathlessly. "You let the paint splatter, the streaks upon the blank white canvas denoting motion".
"Oh, that's just marvelous", he countered dully. He hurried to the Help Wanted page then, seeking nights, although he already was gainfully employed.

photo by Francesca Woodman

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