The Tourist’s Camera 

poem kris jordan

The Tourist’s Camera

poetry by Kris Jordan (c) 2018

I find cameras utterly unreliable 

It can’t snap the depth of the Grand Canyon 

Nor how it brings goosebumps to my skin when the wind blows 

Nor how my mind wonders if I am truly seeing into the past 

Questioning what I’ve been taught and what I’ve been told 

Weighing science against fiction and wondering if, and when, they collide. 


A camera can’t capture that red hue on the sunset over the ocean 

Nor the eerie bubble and roll of the clouds that bring texture to the sky 

Nor my longing for it to last just a bit longer, to not fade so fast 

Questioning if it will look as beautiful tomorrow, and if it does, will I take it for granted? 

Holding gratitude like my last supper, my only hope until the morning. 


The blink of a shutter can’t capture the mystery of a geological sink and rise 

Nor the turquoise blue that appears endless and serene 

Nor the massive trout safe from predators who make me want to take a plunge in 

Questioning the frigidity of the water and if my demise would be the peace I am looking for 

Learning I don’t know it all and never will. 


The camera doesn’t see it all. It sees the smile, not the falseness of it. 

It sees the 2-D, not the life. 

It sees the impression, not the adventure. 

It is framed. It is posed. It is altered. 

The camera captures not what is. 

It twists it all. 

I find cameras utterly unreliable 

I choose instead to go see it all for myself. 

Author’s Commentary

This idea came to me after watching the sun set on South Padre Island and seeing the camera couldn’t capture even a portion of the beauty I was seeing. This wasn’t the first time this had happened either. While I have traveled, I’ve seen so many new things and the photo my camera shows me doesn’t at all capture what my eyes see and my other senses bring to the moment.

I also notice in seeing these beautiful places, I often reflect on life. I learn things I could have only learned by experiencing them. I feel new emotions, or more intense ones. I am living an adventure and all is well.

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