Two poems from Kevin McFadden’s Wicked Bible
followed by a note on the author
If only I didn’t have this staircase wit,
comebacks fumbled and not even funny outside,
I’d be able to spare us the agony, right here,
this fiddle. If only the mot juste were juicier
first time through, the primer a sealer—
who’d need such boohoo?—the art or the craft
to keep telling us, Next year…. If only I’d get
one zing and be king; if when our clever host
The South will rise again, if then
I’d have quipped,
Check your sea level.
If only that redhead had heard! (If only I’d
thought of it then—if then, what then?)
If Kennedy on the Wall hadn’t called himself
a German donut! If only we hadn’t botched
the moonlanding line! If I had it together,
I’d be good enough to be self-deprecating,
perhaps they’d have to make me
an adjective. If I had a Spartan brevity, the ephors’
effortlessness, their timing like choreography
with Philip of Macedon at the borders boasting:
If I enter Laconia, I level it. If I could return
laconic, in a word, as they did:
D O A
Shorthand of the toe-tag, poor S-O-B’s
so S-O-L that even 9-1-1 can’t help. Compact,
in-house, smash-mouth and idiomatic,
a tongue’s tough enough to understand alive—
long dead, what will it all mean? The coroner’s in
to make certain nothing’s uncertain, identity
and estimated time, no death, no taxes
pass without name and number anymore.
Uncle Sam’s 10-40. You understand?
That’s Roger and 10-4.
Kevin McFadden is the author of Hardscrabble and the chapbook collaboration with illustrator Jeff Pike, City of Dante. He is the recipient the George Garrett Award for poetry from the Fellowship of Southern Writers and the Great Lakes College Association’s New Writers Award. His poems have appeared in American Letters & Commentary, Fence, Kenyon Review, Parnassus, Ploughshares, Poetry, and in other publications.