Kevin McFadden


A Date

The first seated takes the chance he’ ll be
stood up. She’ s getting on with the hope she may
get off. One and one make one
in this riddle. Or, more closely, comedy routine:
first, impressions; second, observations.
Impolite to have thirds. Bachelors and bachelorettes
beware: more than tonight they can mess up your order.
Who would go for the lobster expects the claws.
No pets allowed, keep your shirt on, places this strict —
like loony bins — require a jacket, sir. Mark sudden pauses,

A Duet

Art was long.
Paul was short.
Art sang the song.
Paul was the sort

who made one up
as if from air.
Paul had more gift.
Art had more hair —

which isn’ t to take
away from Arts.
Many sing well
if someone starts,

and it robs no Simon
to get paid like Paul.
Along was Art’ s way
to be singing at all.

If Paul robbed some,
it’ s harder revealing.
What stuck in his mind,
he stuck to concealing

An Auto-da-fé

I have nothing to recant, I am just
the decanter. You, the just destroyer,
have in faith become the role, recalling
for those gathered the noble fallen
with a prayer to his-grace-above-fire,
(“Turn me, I’ m burnt on that side”)
St. Lawrence. Well done, I applaud.
And you: Well executed.

This is it. Not much else to await
when our fates touch: I’ ve nowhere to be
but eternity, you’ ve nothing to catch
but the thatch. Dry on dry,
we keep our wits about us...
no one to meet but our match.


For knowledge, says the Old Sage, add; for wisdom,
subtract. My head in a surgeon’ s chair, checking
Lao Tsu’ s math as these teeth I barely knew
I had (mumbled of as wisdom) introduced
themselves — rude party guests — right as they had
to go, their pinched goodbye-hello. Like learning
you’ ve been speaking your whole life in prose,
or my late eighth-grade astonishment that I —
confirmed a Gentile in almost all respects —
had hung so long among the circumcised.