Colonial Contestants by Robert Vaughan

Crammed into the back
seats for the trip
desert air steamy mixed
with bathroom vomit
on this overnight bus
Vegas strip glittering, here
we come: closer to the edge

I dozed in disruptive spurts
waking often, tossing,
sliding, a slippery seal
in a carnival
barker louder than
“C’mon down!”

At the Luxor,
frivolous music festered
contestants drooled
seeking unnecessary prizes
they won’t even use
burying them in their salt-
box colonials

I missed my bus
back to Terwilla
the morning after
my philandering husband
leapt from the peak
mercy momma
he came undone


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Filed under Robert Vaughan

26 responses to “Colonial Contestants by Robert Vaughan

  1. Nice weaving of the story into poetry, Robert. I like the imagery, esp. “I dozed in disruptive spurts/waking often, tossing,/sliding, a slippery seal” and laughed at the reference to “Bob’s.”

  2. “mercy momma” what a story in poetic form! And what a bus ride! No wonder the persona misses the bus in the end. It’ll keep me thinking. Thanks!

  3. Len

    that was a really fun ride. you packed a lot in here–the shifting landscape and the shifting plot. well done, robert!

  4. Kim Hutchinson

    What a cool approach to the theme. Well done!

  5. I really enjoyed this. I especially liked the way you split the last line of the first stanza
    >we come: closer to the edge<
    So you could read that part more than one way. Nice one!

  6. fantastic, cool, echoes in my mind, especially that last stanza. exquisite.

  7. Theo

    this was slick, the words pared down like the ride there through the desert on a bus that would ultimately transform this character’s life.

  8. Shari

    I really enjoyed this piece, Robert. Dazzling, funny and tragic all in one short poem. That last stanza, wow!

  9. stephen

    i like the form you use here and the sing-song detachment of the voice, particularly in the last stanza/episode…

    an aside: the luxor is such a peculiar place. i’ve thought about writing something about it, but i can’t seem to disentangle the multiple layers of surrealism. a cab driver told me a story about someone who dove after losing at baccarat that sticks in my brain..maybe someday.

    • Stephen, thanks for your comments, much appreciated. I was just at the Luxor around this time last year, and although the bus is fictional as is most of the poem, I did hear folklore of someone jumping from the apex. It stuck with me, as some unusual tidbits do from any trip. I encourage you to write that one! The baccarat seems to be a unique feature!

  10. Al McDermid

    It’s interesting that the ‘carnival barker ‘ appears in the middle as the whole piece that cadence, the rhythm of Las Vegas lights.

    And the sick days (from your comment); I remember that!

  11. what a ride. it really catches this surreal atmosphere that is Vegas. made me think of my own drive there – a moment from that ride + another Vegas poem (by Rose Hunter), without Luxor, but with MGM, is online here:

    • I appreciate your read and comments Dorothee, and also this link to a similar Vegas poem of Rose’s. Surreal is right! I’m grateful for you and for your insights.

  12. JR Price

    “mercy momma” is so outside of your voice, which is only one of the reasons I love this poem!

  13. mercy momma
    he came undone

    Love it! This has such a carnival feel to it, both the bright lights and the seamy, sad underbelly. Great take on the theme. Peace…

  14. Pingback: Week #31 – Missed the bus | 52|250 A Year of Flash

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