How I Want Picasso To Sketch Me – Simeon Dumdum Jr.


This is how Pablo Picasso
sketched Ella Fitzgerald.
Her breasts like the waves of Hokusai,
hair a cluster of grapes.
She tilts her head upwards
the way singers do
when belting a high note.
And the song that comes out of her mouth
is like cotton candy.
That’s Ella—pour Ella Fitzgerald,
Son ami, signed, Picasso.

This is how I want Picasso
to sketch me, chest flat, like the Shield
of Achilles but with no design,
a flat cap on my head,
eyes raised but wearing glasses,
lips slightly open,
a thought bubble above me
like a growing rain cloud,
and if he cannot make the sketch
(not the least because he is dead),
I can very well do it myself.
In grade school I was doing sketches
like that which he made of Ella,
but I am poor in forging signatures
and do not know French.


We kept on walking hand-in-hand
Through the Vatican museums
After we heard news that a friend
Had lost his wife in the crowd.
Beginning with the Pio Clementino
It seemed our courtship days once more.
How did we look standing before
Laocoön and sons, who tried
In vain to keep the snakes at bay,
Her hand in mine a docile serpent?
The crowd found us the opposite
Of anguish as through the galleries
We went with my hand clutching hers—
The Candelabra, Tapestries,
Gallery of Maps, where we moved
From ancient to modern Italy
Without ever letting go.
This we maintained throughout the tour,
Except once, when she took a shot
Of me before Caravaggio’s
The Entombment of Christ (which means
That only death could separate us?).
Thence through the rooms of Raphael
And finally the Sistine Chapel
Where we were ready to release
Each other until we looked up
At Michelangelo’s Creation
And saw that God and Adam too
Were joining hands.

About the contributor

Simeon Dumdum Jr. once worked as a judge. He is retired and lives with his wife Gingging in Talisay City, Cebu, Philippines. He has published 14 books, 11 of poetry and three non-fiction, and has received several awards for his work.

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