Mr. Picasso vs. Mrs. Potato Head

by Tom Barlow

How would you feel if it were
your head reshaped as a butternut squash,
your nose grafted onto your forehead,
eyes beady and wandering like pinballs,
and all dressed up in the skin of the drowned?

Was that tenderness or disrespect that
guided his brush to rip into those faces
and leave body parts strewn about
like a drunk’s wardrobe?

Given his reputation with real women,
I question that Mr. Picasso would have
treated Mrs. Potato Head with deference—
how could you look at his portraits
and expect him to love her?

Certainly not love like the child who
tries so hard to place the plastic mouth,
the eyes, the nose, the ears just right,
to create from a mere spud a face so fetching

it allows the Mrs. Potato Head to look
into the mirror with pride. When in the tumult
of cubism did Picasso ever run

to his mother to show what he had done,
to receive a congratulatory kiss?