Oh Provincetown!

Gulls squawk, shout high pitched squeals,
breaking through the silent calm of early morn.
Waters so still at low tide, there is no lap
as sun glistened ripples lie mute in their beauty.
Are these the sounds of long past voices
altered by time, soaring above your land?

Norman Mailer, Tennessee Williams, Eugene O’Neill.
Were their bare feet marred by these rock pebbles,
these shards of shell beneath my feet,
tumbled through years of artistic waves?
Indigo waters turn cobalt blue, ombré into sky.
Like one canvas piled upon another,
easels left for another day.

Muse to Jackson Pollack, Jack Kerouac,
Tony Kushner and Kurt Vonnegut.
Given voice by the calm and eloquent words
writ by Mary Oliver, resident of these dunes,
this town at the very tip of Cape Cod,
crooked arm of land surrounded by sea.

Leave the ocean and stroll into her streets.
See bawdy painted lips and swinging narrow hips,
drag queens, moving costumed forms,
tourists, gawkers, art and food afficionados,
hawkers outside beaded doors. Lovers of every kind.
hold hands, strut, saunter, smile and banter.
Sixty-thousand revelers by summer’s tides
ebbs to three-thousand in quiet snow encrusted streets,
appreciate winter palettes of whites and greys.

Oh Provincetown! Town of complexities.
Pilgrims’ pride rejected, settled by Portuguese fishermen
and wives who waited for their return from sea.
So many have claimed you.
So many have walked your streets,
marveled at your cinnabar setting suns,
danced on your sands of time.
And still you offer more.
More palettes of dawn and dusk.
More ocean tides and raucous waves.
More low tides that reveal your under life.
I revel to return again and again.
You hath cast your spell on me.

Written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets where today, I am hosting and asking folks to write a “travelogue” poem. Take us somewhere! Pub opens at 3 PM Boston (eastern) time. Provincetown is located at the extreme tip of Cape Cod in Massachusetts. In November 1620, pilgrims on the Mayflower landed in the west end of Provincetown and wrote the Mayflower Compact there, before journeying on and settling across the bay in Plymouth. The Governor of the Plymouth Colony purchased the land of Provincetown in 1654 from the Chief of the Nausets for 2 brass kettles, 6 coats, 12 hoes, 12 axes, 12 knives and a box (see wikipedia). Provincetown has been the summer home for many fringe and reknowned artists and writers. Twenty-seven year old Eugene O’Neill produced his first play here in 1916 and spent the next nine years of his life in Ptown.

42 thoughts on “Oh Provincetown!

    • lillian September 13, 2016 / 1:54 pm

      Thank you! When one writes a longer piece, there is the worry that the reader will see all that print and “give up.” So your words here give me heart that the “energy” I hoped to instill in the poem comes through. So glad you enjoyed!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) September 13, 2016 / 3:18 pm

    This sounds like a place where (almost) everyone can feel at home… love those cultural connections of which I had no clue… I can understand your wish to return


    • lillian September 13, 2016 / 3:30 pm

      It is indeed a wonderful place!


  2. kanzensakura September 13, 2016 / 3:25 pm

    Wonderful poem about the past and present of the Island. Lovely photos too! Usually when I go on vacation (which is very rare), I don’t take anything with me that is remotely digital, except a phone for emergencies only. Spoils the fun of being away. I’m glad you can be with us today though via computer! thank you for this prompt!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian September 13, 2016 / 3:33 pm

      Glad you enjoyed! I bring my phone only as my camera😊. And I bring my laptop for posting after I journal….and to host dverse! But I do try to stay “unplugged” as much as possible.


  3. Marilyn Cavicchia September 13, 2016 / 4:33 pm

    I love the contrast between the beach and the town, with its lively presence of drag queens. Also, the last stanza that gives me a glimpse of the history of the area.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian September 13, 2016 / 5:01 pm

      So glad you enjoyed Marilyn. It really is a remarkable place!


    • lillian September 13, 2016 / 5:02 pm

      Ah….a second calling? Travel agent? 🙂 Glad you enjoyed and happy to share this special place with you!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. kim881 September 13, 2016 / 4:36 pm

    Lillian, you’ve really gone to (Province)town on this! It’s so full of life. I want to go there!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian September 13, 2016 / 5:02 pm

      It is indeed a lively place!!! 🙂 And then again….in off season, much more serene. Some would say, given that it’s on the very tip of Cape Cod, it’s at the end of the earth 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • lillian September 13, 2016 / 5:03 pm

      Good……come on along! It is a wonderful place to visit! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Glenn Buttkus September 13, 2016 / 4:57 pm

    Your tour is an ode, love poem, a travelogue & tour guide; excellent piece. As you know most of my poems are longer than one page, unless prompted to do otherwise. A longer poem just has more verve, more substance, more grit, more story. Kudos to you for venturing into deeper
    wordsmithing while beach combing. I like your lines /like a canvas piled upon another/an artist’s easel left for the day/. My grandfather was an
    artist, & sometimes he would frame his old palates as abstract art.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian September 13, 2016 / 5:05 pm

      Oh thank you for your thoughtful read and reply here. You know, Glenn….I always appreciate your words. I did venture into the “longer realm here.” So glad it struck the mark so to speak.
      Now framing old palettes…that would be really interesting to see! Do you have any in your home? Such a great idea! 🙂


  6. Brian September 13, 2016 / 5:19 pm

    I never got as far north as PTown when visiting the Cape. This tour de force poem has given me a virtual visual tour of a place close to your heart. Thank you for being our guide.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian September 13, 2016 / 5:51 pm

      It’s a long long drive through the entire Cape to Provincetown at its very end. We take the fast ferry from Boston: 90 minutes and we’re there! Of course, we don’t see all the other lovely little towns that make up the Cape. Glad to bring you along, Brian.


  7. Victoria C. Slotto September 13, 2016 / 6:08 pm

    I so delight in this, lillian–especially the reference of poets and creative sorts who find and have found inspiration in this area of New England. And, of course, Mary Oliver….je suis jalouse.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian September 13, 2016 / 6:51 pm

      You know I just started writing poetry in the beinning of 2015….and was supposed to read one poet for inspiration during my first online course I took….I had no poetry books so went to a bookstore and someone suggested Mary Oliver! I adore her writing and was absolutely delighted to learn she lives here in Provincetown! I know she is a favorite of yours. I dream of running into her on the streets of Provincetown! 🙂 This place is truly an artistic muse! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Victoria C. Slotto September 13, 2016 / 9:05 pm

        More likely in the woods or on the beach! If you do, tell her I turn to her work for inspiration every day. She’s right there with my bible.

        Liked by 1 person

    • lillian September 13, 2016 / 8:22 pm

      Smiling I am. LOVE this comment! Many thanks 🙂


  8. whimsygizmo September 13, 2016 / 8:32 pm

    Lill, hubby and I did the “leaf peep” thing the summer before we hoped to get pregnant, one last big trip before parenthood. We went to Boston, New Hampshire, Maine, Nantucket. And Provincetown. This brought back memories! Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian September 13, 2016 / 9:22 pm

      New England is definitely the place for leaf peeping! 🙂 So glad to bring back those fond memories….
      These travel posts have been fun to read and do indeed bring back memories for lots of folks if they happen to have been to the same places. Glad you enjoyed this one! 🙂


  9. katiemiafrederick September 14, 2016 / 12:06 am

    First oF aLL.. Lillian
    in the September North
    of Cape Cod relatively
    speaking of course from
    North Florida.. i enjoyed
    your human description in
    poetry of this lovely place..
    and the photos
    add so much
    as of course
    i for one was
    never one for
    words until
    losing effective
    use of my eye sight
    for 66 months and hearing
    as such as well.. making navigating
    the world in words a necessity for one of before
    illness.. as a mostly visual thinker.. interestingly too..
    some folks have great difficultly thinking visually..
    and it often comes out in somewhat more literal
    ways of poetry too.. harder to understand with
    the more interpretive right side of the human
    brain.. as sure.. in metaphor.. as in many
    ways.. both work together as one of
    course.. anyway.. hoping
    to see more travel
    photos on the trail
    today.. as i would
    rather see the
    of photos rather
    than looking up the
    places for stock photos
    on Wiki and such as that..
    to get a feel for a different place..:)

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian September 14, 2016 / 6:56 am

      Glad you enjoyed, Katie. All but the map here are personal photos. And we are here now for two glorious weeks so occasionally taking new photos. Funny how the same scene can be so different so many times! 🙂 Happy Wednesday to you!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Sanaa Rizvi (@rizvi_sanaa) September 14, 2016 / 5:59 am

    Oh such a wonderful contrast between the beach and town 😀 I must admit the image of the ‘Waters so still at low tide, there is no lap as sun glistened ripples lie mute in their beauty’ left me absolutely breathless! ❤ Beautifully executed.

    Lots of love,

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian September 14, 2016 / 6:58 am

      Thank you, Sanaa. This morning, the waters are lapping like crazy….moving out from highest tide and raucously objecting! Sometimes though, it is exactly that still — glistened ripples mute in their beauty….Funny how one place can have so many different views and sounds. The marvel of the ocean and mother nature! 🙂 (Interesting how it’s never called father nature!)


    • lillian September 15, 2016 / 8:30 am

      Glad to take you along! 🙂


  11. Walter J. Wojtanik September 15, 2016 / 9:47 am

    I love these vignettes as well. It’s exploring and discovering without leaving the Laz-E-Boy! I appreciate the journey, Lillian!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian September 15, 2016 / 3:32 pm

      Glad to take you along! 🙂 It is a wonderful place!


    • lillian September 15, 2016 / 3:33 pm

      Do come! In season it’s really a crazy place — this time of year it’s really mellow. Always there are beautiful sun rises and sun sets and the every changing ocean!


  12. blissobirds September 15, 2016 / 4:49 pm

    So many views and hidden treasures at the Cape! Your poem really captures such a tangible collection of cape secrets… like sifting through the sand. I enjoyed reading your response to the prompt. 🙂


  13. Laura Bloomsbury September 15, 2016 / 7:01 pm

    You brought the vibrancy and culture out in every line


    • Laura Bloomsbury September 15, 2016 / 7:04 pm

      Oops pressed post comment before saying how much I especially loved verse 2 and the idea of canvases


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