Welcome to Ragbag Mind

I hope you enjoy these scraps and patches of my life

The Festival of Toast

The Festival of Toast Dirigibles for Heaven leave on time each hour from the tower on the shore. Wing’d people flicker through the flower-towns, feeding as they fly. Today’s great leader frowns from a monument of paper to a war we loved to lose. Electric cowbells chime in the upland meadows where the tractors mate,

O Tannenbaum!

O, TANNENBAUM! Christmas trees have been part of my life since I was a baby. One of my earliest memories is the scent of pine sap from the fresh-cut tree brought into the little basement apartment where my parents first lived after I was born. World War Two was still on. The war lingers in


Thanksgivings As we Americans recover from our annual celebration of shameless gluttony, it’s a good time to bring up some of the facts and fictions about Thanksgiving. First, the holiday as we celebrate it has little to do with the Pilgrims. On Thursday, November 26th, 1863, Abraham Lincoln declared a day of thanksgiving in gratitude

The Urn

The Urn Frederick was the only child of Thomas Drauger, a rapacious Wall Street financier who died suddenly in his penthouse duplex on Park Avenue at the age of sixty-nine. Because Thomas had been a fabulously wealthy man who neither smoked, drank to excess, or overate, and had enjoyed robust health all his life, there

Identity Politics

IDENTITY POLITICS, SNOWFLAKES, TRIGGER WARNINGS, AND OTHER ACADEMIC CONNIPTION FITS Since graduating from Yale in 1964, I’ve read its alumni magazine regularly, taking considerable interest in the way the university has reacted to events in the world outside its ivory– and ivied – towers over the years. Generally, Yale has rolled with history’s punches, adapting

Name Shame

Name Shame I’ve never really liked my name. Its full form, Boylston Adams Tompkins III, is dynastic and pretentious, and I got my nickname, Toby, because there were already two Tommy Tompkinses in my family, and three would have been confusing. So they called me Toby, which is risibly alliterative. Many years ago, when I

Corpsing, And Other Theatrical Catastrophes

Corpsing, and Other Theatrical Catastrophes I’m seventeen years old, alone on the stage of Phillips Andover Academy’s auditorium, playing Hamlet. The play has gone well so far, and I’ve launched into Shakespeare’s most famous soliloquy. I’m fully immersed in the role, so frustrated and miserable that the thought of suicide has occurred to me. I

Backgammon Man

Backgammon Man My Dad was a handsome, silver-tongued devil, one of the most charming and least reliable men who ever tap-danced his way through life. For Father’s Day, which falls this month, I’m posting a piece about him that was published in Terry Ross’s Black Lamb some years back. I’ve added more to the text

Bad Jokes

Bad Jokes Spring has sprung, The grass has riz! I wonder where The birdies iz. -Anon.   Well, the birdies are finally here, I’m happy to say, building nests, swearing at each another at the top of their voices, and crapping on our New Hampshire cabin’s back deck, bless their messy little hearts.  In honor


Predators   As I write (April. 2017), a sexual molester is still squatting in the White House, although these days his hold on the presidency is getting as shaky as his grasp of reality in general.  As far as I know, the Orange Oligarch with a penchant for grabbing women’s private parts with his pudgy