Finding Myself in a Wendy’s in Clyde, North Carolina

Donald C. Welch III

I’m on my way back from Nashville,
which was on my way back from New Orleans
which was on my way back from Massachusetts
and all I want is a chocolate frosty and fries.
But there’s a line full of deer hunters
humming out of season country songs
while their wives console impatient children.

Deciding I’m not that hungry I search for a urinal
but there’s one bathroom and a line for that too.

The cashier musters what friendliness she has left,
it’s been a long day. The girl working drive-thru quit,
mid-shift leaving her to take over that register too.
The new high school kid put the wrong toy in a bag
and this universe begins to unravel. His higher-ups
are too busy to get yelled at right now so he takes it all
with courage that deserves more than minimum wage.

A father who’s my age is figuring out his first diaper
and his baby’s piss is pooling on that silly Koala bear logo.

There’s gum stuck on my chair,
which means there will be gum on my butt.
Sitting is my fault, but I want to blame someone else
so badly, like whoever’s job it is to clean off tables.
But everyone here has someone else to blame
and instead they’re pooling chili into portioned cups
and dealing with it. I realize that I don’t understand
what it really means to be stuck.

There’s no paper towels and no air dryers.
I leave the bathroom with wet hands.

My frosty order is wrong and I could complain,
but decide not to, a vanilla frosty might be as good
as a chocolate one. It isn’t. But now I know
and that’s closure. People have been searching
lifetimes for this and I got it off a combo menu.
I let the fries’ salt stick to my tongue and lips,
the ice cream cool and sweet settles in to balance it
and the fast food world surrounding me slows down.


DCW3 HeadshotDonald C. Welch III currently lives in Brooklyn, NY, but started writing in Mooresville, NC. His project @SocialLit explores new forms of poetry and collaborative writing derived from Social Media. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Passages North, Haiku Journal, War, Literature & the Arts, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, and The Emerson Review, among other journals. His collection of children’s poetry Who Gave These Flamingos Those Tuxedos? was published by Wilde Press.