Tourists Travel & Empires

Poem By gordon coombes

tourists trampling the world
into dust
trying to get a last view
of a dying world
touring the Amazon rain-forests
on four lane highways
tears come to their eyes
hearing of the imminent death
of ancient trees
sailing on luxury liners
to the Galapagos Islands
riding on giant tortoises
disturbing colonies of Penguins
the brochures bark
see it nos before its too late
for a few thousand dollars
what sights to see
Antartica hardly touched
next on our shopping list
Empires temples
buried in a tangle of vines
the uninitiated refer
to them as merely ruins
“a wonder of the world
that such ignorant people
of the pre-technocratic age
could construct such monoliths”
remarks a guide leading the tourists
and then adds
“the Mayans are no more”
yet there are two Mayans
standing beside me
I look at them
“we must be ghosts” they say
while smiling and then get back
on the tour bus
as I hear the air overhead
being beaten by the wings
of Quetzalcoatl-


Walking over the bodies
of dead Indians
I touch the cross
upon my neck
and think of you my love
a present you gave me
on our last meeting
I notice one of these
small brown barbarians
raising up his body
making animal sounds
I thrust my steel blade
into this body
knowing I have done
my duty for Spain the King
for the Church and for God
entering a stone building looking like something
out of the mind of the devil
there before me
in the light of torches
held by the soldiers
there are piles
of what look like strange
Devil writings on strips of skin
probably ripped from
those sacrificed
I order my men to burn these
the priest enters and performs
a benediction
now I know my job
has been done
I cross myself as the flames rise
and I write to you
my love hoping
I shall see you again
in my beloved Spain
and that I shall not
perish here in
this wretched underworld.

Comments about Tourists Travel & Empires

The concerns expressed in this piece are very powerful, Gordon. Kudos to you. I relate to the first part very much. Of course I can't relate to being a conquistador (It is interesting that you put that second in the poem when chronologically it happened first) , but you seem to have captured the likely attitude, especially the paradoxical attitudes toward the natives and the loved ones back home. Please see my poem, 'Packing List' about tourism in unusual places.

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Other poems of COOMBES

The Masks We Wear

searching for a mask to wear
trying on one identity or another
where is my true face you ask
& I wonder about it

Let's Get Surreal: For H.P. Lovecraft

Lets get surreal the rest is too common place
let us crawl inside paintings
roaming ancient ruins
crossing ancient battlefields

Runawaytrain No.2

It’s the price of fame
you’re on a runaway train-

love is just a game

Oh So Sweet Weed

seems like centuries
years stretched out
across this desert
crawling along

Walking With The Dead

spending an evening with the dead
as i take my nightly walk
along the streets of this sad little town
along the streets of that sad city years ago