Marilyn Kallet

Tomato Frog

You’re so vain,
You probably think this song is
about you.

He must have been a god, the one

who cross-bred a tomato with a frog.

Long ago, tomatoes had a hard time

getting around. If they wanted to party,

they could never rock, only roll —

smashed, they squished.

Once amphibious, they called the shots.

All that gorgeous rouge

on the move! Green frogs bulged with envy.

Nothing as alluring on blue sand

as a red jumper posed au natural.

Famous painters would steamer

to Madagascar to catch a glimpse

of one. Gauguin himself revered

bold skin, aimed to compose them

amid Goddesses’ nipples.

No still life there.

In this portrait, froggy’s wide-eyed,

goofy, more humble than you might allow.

His ancestors were sliced for sandwiches

(we mustn’t speak of that).

Now he evades the barbaric nets

of chefs — “Out of the produce bin,

into the frying pan? Non! Jamais!”

Red has become royalty-waiting-to-happen.

Red-lipped women have leaned

to kiss him…

“I have my own career now.

I’m tired of being used

by girls on their way up.”

Older women try harder

to capture one.

Not that they want a prince,

no way, they’re thinking of show biz,

value — a talking frog.

Our red buddy (call him

Big Boy for old time’s sake)

is adjusting to his new body.

“Like an artiste, I leap,

I plunge. I’m

the first generation

to land on my feet!”

When he has nightmares of toasters

and bacon he wakes up shrieking

his wife croaa-bits

over his rippled skin

until he sheds smoothness,

the vine,

the old days

dangling in Farmer Jones’s patch

like a Christmas ornament.

“Like one engorged testicle,”

he shudders.

Darling, you too were blatant,

over-kissed, elusive.

You were the local Big Boy,

everyone’s delicious pet.

How we wanted to bite

into you! Until you pissed

in our hands. Until you cowered

under rocks. We noticed

our grasping fingers were covered

with telltale warts.