Poem: Ticket to Escondido

Updated on May 30, 2020
Mark Tulin profile image

A former family therapist, Mark is an author, poet, and short-story writer with a sense of humor.

Source

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.



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    • Miebakagh57 profile image

      Miebakagh Fiberesima 

      7 weeks ago from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA.

      Ticket to Escondido is really interesting.

    • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

      Mark Tulin 

      7 weeks ago from Santa Barbara, California

      Thank you, Umesh

    • bhattuc profile image

      Umesh Chandra Bhatt 

      7 weeks ago from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India

      Very interesting. Enjoyable piece.

    • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

      Mark Tulin 

      2 months ago from Santa Barbara, California

      Can’t wait to see that poem!!

    • Miebakagh57 profile image

      Miebakagh Fiberesima 

      2 months ago from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA.

      Mark, you hit the nail right on the head. I am at the moment fine toning a train travel poem. I got the experience when I was a boy of 10-years. Enjoy the weekend.

    • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

      Mark Tulin 

      2 months ago from Santa Barbara, California

      Yes, Miebakagh. You get to see and feel the wide open spaces instead of being crammed into a plane, hoping and praying it reaches its destination safely.

    • Miebakagh57 profile image

      Miebakagh Fiberesima 

      2 months ago from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA.

      Mark, I agreed. It is more cool watching natures evergreens vegetation, rivers, and aniimals. Train gives an interesting sight-seeing adventure.

    • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

      Mark Tulin 

      2 months ago from Santa Barbara, California

      The Domeliner seems cool. I like trains much better than planes, that’s for sure.

    • profile image

      mistermuse 

      2 months ago

      I remember, as a boy, riding a domeliner halfway across the country with my parents back in the late 1940s. I didn't know such trains still exist, but the surfliner sounds similar. Enjoyed the poem.

    • Miebakagh57 profile image

      Miebakagh Fiberesima 

      2 months ago from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA.

      This is well noted. Anything of interest is of valua.

    • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

      Mark Tulin 

      2 months ago from Santa Barbara, California

      Thank you, Brenda. The Surfliner is the most interesting train I’ve ever taken. Well worth it, if you have a chance.

    • Brenda Arledge profile image

      BRENDA ARLEDGE 

      2 months ago from Washington Court House

      Mark,

      I have never had the pleasure of riding a train. We don't have them here.

      But you painted the scene perfectly.

      I can picture poor John...who really doesnt have a care in the world right now.

      I know a few like him who would drift off and wake up only to drink some more.

      Me...well, I would probably feel miserable and opt for more sleep. (Awe...not as young as I once was)

      Thanks for the share.

    • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

      Mark Tulin 

      2 months ago from Santa Barbara, California

      Yes, Shauna. It certainly spices up the ride.

    • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

      Mark Tulin 

      2 months ago from Santa Barbara, California

      Lorna, it was unforgettable. Beauty mixed with real life.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      2 months ago from Central Florida

      Sounds like John mourns his lost leg by drowning his sorrows and clarity with the golden stuff of hops.

      I don't think I've ever ridden a train where someone didn't disrupt the rumble and sway of the ride.

    • Lorna Lamon profile image

      Lorna Lamon 

      2 months ago

      I think this was an unforgettable journey, although John probably doesn't remember a thing. A wonderful mix of wit, innuendo and life all wrapped up in brilliant poetry. Kudos to you Mark.

    • profile image

      Genna East 

      2 months ago

      Certainly, Mark. Thank you.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      2 months ago from USA

      The other passengers tolerated much from John. This is beautifully written. What a gift!

    • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

      Mark Tulin 

      2 months ago from Santa Barbara, California

      I think John is still at the bar as we speak, Ruby Jean.

    • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

      Mark Tulin 

      2 months ago from Santa Barbara, California

      Thank you Genna for your wonderful commentary. Can I use your quote on my website? https://crowonthewire.com/

    • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

      Mark Tulin 

      2 months ago from Santa Barbara, California

      Thank you, Miebakagh, for the wonderful complement.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      2 months ago from Southern Illinois

      This was a fun read, Poor John probably hit the first bar after debarking the train.

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 

      2 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

      The terse yet poetic realism just grabs you and won't let go. There is much I like about this poem -- including how different worlds contrast with uncompromising yet powerful simplicity.

      "He opened the restroom door

      and startled the woman on the loo

      reading Vanity Fair."

      "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."

      Well done.

    • Miebakagh57 profile image

      Miebakagh Fiberesima 

      2 months ago from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA.

      Hello Mark, I always like your poems for their simple sense. Thanks for sharing.

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