A poem I wish I could call mine

Photograph by Violator3

I remember Peter telling me once that I wrote poems like an angel. I'd never met an angel who wrote poems and so the falsehood inherent in his lovely, gushing compliment, forced upon me while in a crowd of true poets, had the opposite result of his desired effect. In my embarrassment, I withdrew from him. Completely.

Eventually, I also withdrew from my poetry. I never entered another contest nor won any more competitions. It was not an unexpected demise for a talent which I had never claimed to have - that of writing poetry. At heart, my inner words remained where they began, inside me. I could not reconcile to the truth of knowing that all my poems contained untruths. Even if others didn't, I knew where the make believe lay.

I wanted to write like Benedetti, like Alfonsina, like Darío. All masters, all honest, all of them not me. This, is where I became lost. A dead end road was that which came of my vain comparisons. A sure death to something that was never really born. I might try again. Perhaps. Whether I'm good or not no longer matters. My inner words want to get outside.

The following, is not one of mine. I've made a most literal of translations for you. Hardly any interpretation at all. Surely I do one of my favorite poets a great disservice but, I wanted to share him with you today. This particular poem is so well known by many Latin Americans that the title alone is like invoking a single-name musician. Below the translation is an audio clip of Benedetti reading his own words. If you understand any Spanish, it should resonate with you as much as reading the words do. I hope you like it.

And before I go, I throw this out into the nebulous: Peter, wherever you are, I am sorry for not being kind and sophisticated enough to deal with your admiration. I was young. That is my only excuse. I thank you now because it means more in this moment than it did then.

Tactic and Strategy
by Mario Benedetti

My tactic is
to look at you
learn you as you are
love you as you are

My tactic is
to speak with you
and listen to what you say
construct with words
a bridge that is indestructible

My tactic is
to remain in your memory
I don’t know how nor
under what pretext
but to remain in you

My tactic is
to be frank
and to know that you are frank with me
that neither one
sells the other off on
so that between us
there be no screen
no chasms

Mi strategy is
grounded in change
more profound and more

My strategy is
that one fine day
I don’t know how nor
with what pretext
you will finally
need me


  1. I hope that you will share some of what you write. Or what you have already written.

  2. Thank you for sharing this poem, it is so lovely!

    And I second Jennifer, I hope you will share some of your poetry with us in the future!

  3. I do love this poem...and it's got me thinking about need and want and how the to must be separate but feel so awfully one like the other.

  4. Jennifer, immediately I come back I'll post something. I'll warn you now though. I'm really not good so please don't expect much.

    Suzanne: Benedetti is the bees knees. My best friend Pablo introduced me to him ages ago and I've loved him ever since. Like I said to Jennifer, be kind when I do.

    Cce: Glad you liked it. On my book side bar I think I still have listed a dual language edition of some of Benedetti's best known poems. He's worth the read and so are these translations. As to the needing and wanting, so very different but malleable concepts the both of them. I sometimes get lost in my ability to distinguish.

  5. Tactic and Strategy
    by Mario Benedetti
    I'd just love to copy that and send to one of my friends--- may be!!!

    and your travel to Iran - I gotto know so much about Iran.

    Nice, really magnificient one!!!


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