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Poem: Ticket to Escondido

A former family therapist, Mark is an author, humorist, poet, and short-story writer who enjoys a good comedy.


The Pacific Surfliner

The Amtrak Pacific Surfliner travels over 350 miles, through six counties and twenty-seven stations along the coast of California.

Some of my favorite stops are Escondido, San Diego, Orange, Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo.

From the train's window, you can see beaches and mountains, surf destinations, downtowns, jogging paths etched in mountains, and the California wine country.

Most passengers are pleasant and well-behaved. Although, every so often you might run into someone who's a bit inebriated like my good friend John in Ticket to Escondido.

Poem: Ticket to Escondido

I watched the conductor punch the ticket

as John staggered aboard the train to Escondido.

He didn't know how many beers, he drank

while retching during the scenic view.

Guess John had a little more than he should.

The mountains appeared yellow and mauve.

The ocean gave him motion sickness

as he slid off the chair to the floor.

I helped him back to his assigned seat,

removed his cap, and propped him up.

He looked at a halo over a flying angel

and gulped down another Michelob.

John confided in me with alcoholic breath:

"I had a mother in Santa Ana once;

My father was a salty dog."

He opened the restroom door

and startled the woman on the loo

reading Vanity Fair.

The conductor in a captain's cap

had enough of this poor man's guff,

told him that if he didn't pull up his pants

and sober up, he'd give him the boot

at the next train stop.

John conked-out near Carlsbad.

He snored and gurgled straight through,

dreamt of Happy Hours with free refills,

and woke up with a thirst for more.

John wouldn't be denied,

downed a few more in San Juan Capistrano,

balanced on his wooden leg,

wondering if the. mission swallows

should fly over San Bernardino instead.

© 2020 Mark Tulin

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