Humpty Dumpty Deli • Wendy Gist

Humpty Dumpty dude jots orders with flamingo pen,
scoops rocky road and mango ice cream for tweens
who scream preceding soccer practice.

Humpty places waffle cones oozing melting mounds
into holders on the countertop near antique register,
accepts cash only. An older couple off the Interstate
step forward on tanned legs in Bermuda shorts plaid.

The woman under white visor orders a pistachio shake.
Her hubby in button-down shirt pink, masquerading as boyfriend,
chooses berry banana split, demands in southern twang,
“No cherry, Sir.”

A young woman with a parted fro leaps forward,
her asymmetrical skirt, twirling yellow as sun flow.
Tap tap acrylic nail to laminated photo of frappé on countertop.

We chill at blue-mint booths.
He comes to us as waiter, delivers tropical smoothie
and orange Crush pop in a bottle, chilled.
He waggles behind counter, washes knives in a sink,
wipes equipment sterile. Mops tile.

Efficient as fish fins in water. He comes twice as server,
delivers ice waters as if a mind reader and
lunch with a clank of condiments (without request).

We’d slam a $100.00 tip on the table if able. Why not?
It’s a sweltering 103 degrees out. Heck.
We go, stroll sidewalks, flip-flops melt soles.
Humpty’s up on the rooftop mending the air conditioner.
If he goes tumbling, who will bus the tables?


Wendy Gist was born in southern California,
raised in northern Arizona. Her work has appeared
or is forthcoming in Amsterdam Quarterly, Canyon
Voices, Burningword, Glint Literary Journal,
Grey Sparrow Journal, Lines & Stars, New
Plains Review, Oyez Review, Pif Magazine,
Poetry Pacific, Red River Review, Rio Grande
Review, Sundog Lit, The Chaffey Review, The
Fourth River, The Lake (UK), Toad Suck Review,
Yellow Medicine Review: A Journal of Indigenous
Literature, Art, and Thought. She currently
resides in New Mexico.