Campbell McGrath

Picasso & Dora Maar (1942)
January 6, 2014 McGrath Campbell

Picasso & Dora Maar (1942)


Four decades I have lived among the French

as a peasant in a shearling coat

wanders a beach of oblivious sunbathers.


So ill prepared are they for tragedy,

so little do they know of  loss, so small

sorrow’s claim on their imagination.


And now, uniform winter upon all of Europe,

Catalans, Normans, Slavs and Walloons

subsumed to unvarying, iron-taloned grey.


Look at my little tomato plant,

withering forth a crooked yellow arm,

a crown of leaves, a tassel of fruit.


Poor Paris, how I pity and depend upon it.

But I trace my lineage to Altamira and Lascaux.

I spring from cave walls and am content.



Women want me as much as I want them.

They desire my money, my brio, my fame,

and I desire their cunts as portals to eternity.

So what if they fought each other over me?

Men fight for women every day. They kill,

like Greeks and Trojans, for sheer beauty.

If I let Marie-Therese and Dora Maar do battle

it is because love is truest when tested by jealousy.

At any rate Dora Maar was a Kafkaesque figure—

whenever I found a water stain on her walls

I worked it with fine pencil strokes until it resembled

a bug of some sort. In this way I transformed

her apartment into a bestiary, or an insect zoo;

in this way I changed her, too.



Campbell McGrath is the author of many books of poetry, most recently the chapbook Picasso/Mao (Upper Rubber Boot, 2014) and the forthcoming XX: for the 20th Century (Ecco Press, 2015). He lives in Miami Beach and teaches in the MFA program at Florida International University.