anna omelchenko
Sweet Sixteen
by Tina Hacker

Mr. Adam’s restaurant:
voted best year after year
for ice cream sundaes.
No anemic one-scoop creations
for the diet conscious.
Two scoops the minimum.
Bulging with flavors, syrups,
candy, nut and fruit toppings,
the menu listed four, six, eight
and the emperor of all confections,
the sixteen-scoop wonder. Any
patron finishing carried home
a certificate lauding the achievement
plus the satisfaction of getting a free deal.

To my dad, this was a challenge.
Regularly, he consumed the sundae
he called the Eighter but after a year
of placing second, he wasn’t satisfied.
He liked to win. Sixteen scoops! Nothing
less! Chocolate, peppermint, strawberry,
pistachio, butter pecan, peach and a finale
of vanilla. Hot fudge, whipped cream
in hues of pink, yellow and purple,
a hill of chopped walnuts and one
maraschino cherry completed the dish.

It took two servers to carry the bowl. All
the customers stayed to see the outcome.
Dad ate slowly, steadily until every drop
disappeared. Wiping his lips, he looked
at the astonished faces around him.
Like all good competitors, his expression
showed surprise that anyone had doubts.

IMAGE: “Ice Cream Sundae” by Olga Olmelchenko. Prints available at

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Sweet Sixteen” is a true story about my dad. He didn’t even suffer indigestion after downing that sundae!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tina Hacker wrote her first poem in her sophomore year in college after getting a nasty note from a girl in her dorm saying “Three things cannot be learned: poetry, generosity and a singing voice.” After writing every spare minute for a year, Tina had poems published in two university journals. So she proved at least one point of the note wrong. Since then Tina has been published in numerous journals and anthologies and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize four times. She was a finalist in New Letters and George F. Wedge competitions and Editor’s Choice in two literary journals. Her chapbook, Cutting It, and her full-length book, Listening to Night Whistles, can be found on Amazon. She lives in Leawood, Kansas, with her husband, Lynn Norton, who is a sculptor and valuable editor.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO: Tina enjoying ice cream and tulips in Holland’s beautiful Keukenhof Gardens in the summer of 2014.