The Makings of a Love Poem

by Zachary Payne

My wife is from Spain. When we met, we spoke to each other in Spanish, still today it is what we use to communicate. Is love bigger than languages? All I know is that it is impossible to express my affection for her in anything other than Spanish. A simpler and more beautiful version of this poem exists, it starts with Compañera which even though the literal translation is partner, partner in English, for me, takes on the negative connotations of Capitalism, for I was raised in the 80’s with Coke, the Cold War, trickledown economics and Regan-Thatcher Neoliberalism. Where the Spanish use of this word inserts itself in Kropotkin’s Mutual Aid, tortilla de patata, international brigades, Lorca and Guernica and thus becomes Comrade, but in English this is just a little too much. I do believe that the workers should own the means to production but I don´t want to refer to my Wife as Comrade.  I just want the word that captures and expresses that everything and all that we must go through in life, I want to do it with her, my equal, side by side.

So every day I must choose / debo elegir
                       my words / mis palabras

 y elijo
Compañera    Compañera    Compañera


Zachary Payne is poet and translator who currently works as a Spanish Professor at Windward Community College. As a translator, Zach has published full book translations of Spanish and Latin American Poets (Rafael Cadenas, Pablo Guevara, and Leopoldo Maria Panero) into English while also translating the Beat Poet, Bob Kaufman, into Spanish. To date he has published two collections of his poems in Spanish, the most recent being Robos, Setas & Sombras (Huerga y Fierro, 2014) and has been included in a number of anthologies and journals in Europe, the United States and Latin America. Most recently, Zach has published Termites: the illegal occupation of paradise (Prote(s)xt an imprint of Hesterglock Press, 2018).


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