Typhoid Party. by Douglas Luman

     For the M.E.C.C., may it rest in peace.

     Dramatis Personæ

          In order of appearance:

          Audrey      the wagon leader, our narrator
          Louie         the first to die
          TJ             the last to get vaccinated for measles
          Erin           the first to get typhoid

Travel the trail
          old-timey America
amidst middling rations
               and questions:

are we there yet?

               Watch it, all of you guys.

So, basically, you are going to pace
                         though here I am drowning
and Louie is dead.


Along with most of my oxen
                    TJ is lost
                    Ian has a fever
                    TJ has a fever –
                    which is surprising because he is lost –
                    Erin has a fever.

Apparently something is going around
                         and help is either brief
                         or a problem.
                              An oxen is injured
                              the world is orange and purple at evening –
                              never a good sign –
                              and I have to craft a ram with little barter,
                              bad water
                              little water
                              Erin has exhaustion
                              and typhoid.

                                        Bye, Erin!

Rough trail
little water
TJ has measles
          and, TJ dies.
          Ian has a fever:
          here Ian lies.

                              Chimney Rock is the last point where I died.

We are spreading death
               seeking gold in the west; now, I get measles

                                                  (you know, they do
                                                  have a lot of that
                                                  in Colorado).

This ladder to heaven is lagging –
                                   I expect my exit shortly
but come to a river we must cross again
                                   and Erin
                                   going through Hell in a Conestoga Wagon.

If a steamboat were at hand
                    we'd hire a lady of the evening as our guide
optioning an arm or a leg to pay her price
                                   maybe we'd die from dysentery –
at least it wouldn't be drowning, it would be


We should probably rest, were we sane
                              but we are driven by dreams
                              effervescent as gold dust
          when Erin dies again,
          TJ has cholera,
          Ian found the dysentery after all
          TJ is dead.

Louie has typhoid,
               and he's dead,
Ian has typhoid,
          useless after he breaks his leg.
Given typhoid, a broken femur, a case of buckshot –
                              tell everyone
          he fell out of the wagon
                         or something.

Douglas Luman is a poet and nonfiction author whose work has appeared in Burningword, Epigraph Magazine and (forthcoming) Toad Suck Review, among other publications and journals. He is currently pursuing his MFA at the University of Central Arkansas.