Conquistadors

Oje con los dessalladores.
Beware the developers.

Here's a photo
of poplar saplings and sagebrush colonies
that were never here.
See the ant hills and hares
that were never here.

Here's a photo
of the naïve New World natives,
startled at the sight of horses and muskets,
barely flinching behind ancient eyesight
at the blades and blood,
for the aliens are angry gods.

Oje con los dessalladores.
Beware the developers,
cajoling the mayor into outlandish goosestepping
drinking at the lacquered bar
on expense accounts,
removing their ties and cufflinks
at the end of a grinding day,
knowing, as they grunt in personal toilet stalls,
that the angels sing for them.

Oje con los dessalladores.
Beware the future.
If you are a conquistador
you scrape your brain
of poplar saplings and sagebrush colonies.
You boil the ants and hares
In the oil pans of backhoes.
You understand the need
to slash the throats of New World natives,
to bind them with strange words and deities,
and transform them into grotesque effigies
that shine like trophies
and wear death masks and cufflinks.

by Michael Philips

Comments (3)

you're doing here what you're doing in many of your previous poems, concise social commentary with a mix of the innane and real anger, only poems like this are developing it further, out of the suburban gardens and painting that same message on a wider canvas of the entire american nation, and the story of american history. one of your key poems.
I love this, I love the progression of it, and the sense I get of a poem translated from the Spanish (which it isn't, I realize, but I love poems that seem that way) , and I love your use of the Spanish sentence to start each stanza. I can't understand 'the poplar saplings and sagebrush colonies/ they owned were never here.' I mean I *literally* can't get what's being said in those lines, no matter which way I filter them through my head. Otherwise, I find the poem wonderful; perfect.
'New age conquistadors' .......never thought of developers and businessmen in this way but you make such a great point. They really are conquering the land (and destroying it) with their ''wonderful plans for the future''. Great poem. It really makes you think about all the 'progress'. hmmm. sincerely, Mary