Provincetown’s Ebb and Flow

Beloved Provincetown, how shall I pen you?
Sometimes mellow, sweet as honey,
dew dripped fogged another day?

Your fickle Spring brings brisk winds,
lean-into gusts that slow my steps
on low tide walks along the shore.
Horseshoe crabs spawn, two moving as one,
leaving intricate trails on sand,
caring not that I observe their intimacy.

Summer explodes in gulls and fireworks.
Two and four-legged beach walkers
skirt ’round children digging moats.
Engorged tour buses relieve themselves.
Nametagged visitors join throngs in streets
as bicycles weave their way through maze.

Autumn brings sweatered afternoons,
shorter ice cream lines, gardens’ last hurrahs,
and fewer buskers on the streets.
I stand alone in wool cap on deserted shore,
marveling at the glory of an amber moon,
light temptation for tomorrow’s palette of words.

When your Winters flaunt Nor’easters,
remaining locals, few in number, tread quickly
through snow-muffled quietude.
Behind once busy Commercial Street
in this, the most off of off-seasons,
ocean’s rhythmic tides still reign.

The ocean, in fog or sun or snow,
Provincetown’s constant gift,
no matter the time of year.



Written for Tuesday Poetics at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe. Today I’m hosting and asking folks to “compound me!”

I’ve provided a list of compound words in the prompt . (A compound word is formed by putting two root words together to form an entirely new word.)

Writers must choose at least one compound word from the list and use it in their poem EXCEPT, they must take apart the word! They can not add any words between the two root words nor can they add any additional letters to the root words. For example: moonlight: writers can put moon at the end of one line and begin the next line with the word light. Or they may, within one line, include the two words moon and light, with no other letters added to the words and no additional words between the two root words. They may however, add a punctuation mark between the two root words.

Confused? Here’s the two lines from my poem above, where I’ve used the words honeydew and moonlight, which are in the list:

Sometimes mellow, sweet as honey,
dew dripped fogged another day?

and
marveling at the glory of an amber moon,
light temptation for tomorrow’s palette of words.


I do hope you’ll join us! Pub opens at 3 PM Boston time and you’ll find the complete list of compound words there. Choose one or more and compound me! Or just stop by to see what others write. The more the merrier!

Photos from our annual two weeks in Provincetown over these past 22 years. We’re here until Saturday, and as you can tell from this poem and the last few I’ve posted, it is my muse. We are smitten with our beloved Provincetown.

Video was taken yesterday!! Did you know …. May is spawning season for horseshoe crabs. They’re not actually crabs. They’re chelicerates, most closely related to arachnids, such as spiders and scorpions. They’re consiered “living fossils” meaning they’ve existed nearly unchanged for at least 445 million years, well before even the dinosaurs! Amazing to watch their spawning. Our first time in all these years, coming in May….and then we find out it’s horseshoe crab spawning time!

Provincetown Off-Season

There’s a quiet to this place
in that transition between winter
and when-will-it-get-here spring.

Ocean ombrés from greys to taupes
bereft of sails and buoys,
lonely tides missing congregant gulls.

Lulling seeping fog muffles sound.
Low-lying dulled clouds meld into one sky
misting all that lies beneath.

And if perchance the sun should shine
clearing skies to blue,
cold damp air chills the bones still.

Lean-into gusts of wind
accompany the lone walker,
a speck of time on these vast sands
in the quiet of this place.


Written for Open Link Night at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets.

Today Sanaa is hosting and from 3 to 4 PM, Boston time, we will be LIVE. Poets from around the globe will meet via Google Meet and read aloud one poem of their choosing. It’s amazing to see the faces of folks and hear their voices….come join us either to read a poem of your choosing, or just to sit in and listen. HOW TO JOIN US?

Go to https://dversepoets.com at 3 PM or just a few minutes after, and the links to join us will be there…just click and come!

Photo taken this morning from our deck in Provincetown.

We’ve spent two weeks in Provincetown, at the Watermark Inn for the past twenty-two years. We’ve been here in January, July, May, and September. For some beautiful photos over the years, click here!

Dune Shack

He courted me online. Sent me airfare from Paris to Boston. Met me with flowers and a grin. We sped out of the city, not slowing down until we crossed the Bourne Bridge onto Cape Cod. Small towns appeared and disappeared until we reached Provincetown. Shifting into four-wheel drive, he maneuvered through a maze of sand dunes, finally reaching his secluded shack. The one he’d so romantically described. For three glorious weeks we made love under down comforters and hiked the deserted beach. Off season was best, he said.

On April thirtieth, he muttered “you’re not enough.” He walked out and left me stranded, scared to death. For how can I be sure I shall see again the world? On the first day of May, I got the nerve to climb up the nearest dune. I hoped the world was on the other side.


Written for Prosery Monday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets across the globe. Today Merril asks us to use a line from Sara Teasdale in our prose: “For how can I be sure I shall see again the world on the first day of May.” We can not change the words – must use them exactly as written. However, we may change the punctuation.

The Bourne Bridge does indeed separate Cape Cod from the mainland of Massachusetts. Since 1998, we’ve spent two weeks every year at Provincetown, at the very end (tip) of Cape Cod. We usually take the fast ferry direct from Boston – it only takes 90 minutes – and we usually come in September. However, because of another commitment, we arrived in Ptown on Saturday and will be here until May 21st. Definitely off-season. The ferry isn’t running yet so we took a bus. After the bus crossed the Bourne Bridge, we did indeed ride through many small New England towns before we spied the National Seashore coming in to Ptown. done A number of years ago we did Art’s Dune Tour in his 4-wheel drive. He takes you way out and up and down all the dunes. To this day, there are still some very secluded artist’s shacks in the dunes.

Above image by Jan Aldrich has been cropped showing a sand dune and part of an artist’s shack on the National Seashore.

Photo below is of me today on our morning walk at low tide. Chilly but still beautiful.

Glendalough

Walk with me in the fields of Glendalough,
walk quietly amongst its tipping stones.

Ancient headstones stand quietly askew,
testament to centuries of monastic life.

Sixth-century monks lived secluded here
prayed within primitive stone structures.

Evidence of their medieval dwellings
still lies scattered in verdant landscape.

Lush hills gently swell, envelop sacred history.
Hushed visitors walk through hallowed grounds.

St. Kevin of Glendalough first blessed this land,
centuries later, still a place of pilgrimage.

Many come to pray, to see, to touch this land,
seeking calm, finding a place of primal peace.

Written for NAPOWRIMO, Day 27.

Today, we have a tough prompt; what I call a sudoku prompt !  

We are to write a duplex. Like a typical sonnet, a duplex has fourteen lines. It’s organized into seven, two-line stanzas. The second line of the first stanza is echoed by (but not identical to) the first line of the second stanza, the second line of the second stanza is echoed by (but not identical to) the first line of the third stanza, and so on. The last line of the poem is the same as the first. The only part of the requirements I did not follow was the bit about the last line. I like the way mine ended as is.

Photos taken some years ago when we visited Glendalough in Ireland. An absolutely beautiful and serene place. Saint Kevin is an Irish saint, known as the founder and first abbot of Glendalough in County Wicklow, Ireland. His feast day is June 3rd. He was born in 498 AD. After his ordination, he moved to Glendalough to live as a hermit in a partially man-made cave. His companions were the animals and birds around him. He lived as a hermit for seven years, wearing only animal skins, sleeping on stones and eating very sparingly. Soon others sought him out as a teacher and holy man. Glendalough grew into a renowned seminary of saints and scholars. Until his death around 618, Kevin presided over his monastary in Glendalough.

Lives in the Balance

We’d been aboard the cruise ship for fifteen days. This, the sixteenth, our last day prior to disembarking in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Relaxation our goal, we never got off the ship. We simply explored this glorious vessel. Marveled at her sculptures, paintings, photographic art; and her six fine dining rooms, each different in décor. We enjoyed delicious entrées and delectable desserts. Our stateroom had a king-size bed and large bathroom with rain shower and soaking tub.

And then, on this sixteenth day, the Captain’s announcement: There is a raft on our starboard side with sixteen refugees. We will remain near them for approximately three hours until the U.S. Coastguard comes to their aid. We are committed to the safety of everyone at sea. Through binoculars I watched a green rubber raft bobbing in white capped waves. Four oars floundered, trying to propel and steer the raft. Desperate people struggled to survive against the elements.

I’ve read articles, seen news clips, about refugees plodding across and through unforgiving terrain. But nothing compared to seeing this from my cruise ship balcony. The juxta-positioning of my life at that moment, the privileged lives of everyone on the cruise ship, to what was happening before my eyes. Heart-wrenching. It started to drizzle and a rainbow appeared, arcing over the raft. I immediately thought of it as a metaphor for hope. These people, hunched against the wind, shoving four wooden paddles through the teeming ocean, desperate to overcome the insurmountable, seeking a better life, with God knows what going through their minds. And me standing there, so privileged, that I could formulate poetic thoughts and think metaphorically.

fire hydrants gush
kids splash, jump in ghetto streets –
country club pool soothes

Written for dVerse Haibun Monday. Frank asks us to write something in relation to Thanksgiving or being thankful. We just returned from a Caribbean cruise on Celebrity’s newest ship, the Apex. The ship is stunningly beautiful. On the last day at sea, what I’ve written about in this haibun happened. Watching the refugees, I suddenly understood how privileged I am. I prayed for these poor souls, hoping they survive their treacherous journey. We could only surmise they left Cuba to get to Florida’s shores. Watching them, from a cruise ship balcony, I realized how fortunate and how blessed I am. Thankful for every day. Thankful for freedom. Thankful for a warm bed and food. Privileged to afford a cruise. Humbled to watch this scene unfold.
Photos all taken on our cruise.

Iceland

We’ve seen firsthand the many faces of Iceland. We’ve soaked in the Blue Lagoon and walked beside hot bubbling fumaroles in the Krysuvik geothermal field. We’ve hiked in her desolate volcanic terrain.

Wearing sturdy hiking boots, using walking sticks for leverage, we climbed to the top of Stora Eldborg, an extinct volcanic crater. At its peak, buffeted by winds, our travel van below was a mere dot. Craters in the distance looked like small molehills. On the descent, our sticks helped take the pressure off our knees.

An hour later, we donned hardhats with headlights; no sticks allowed. Our guide took us to explore a 2,000 year old lava tube. Once a conduit for flowing molten rock, the channel crusted over forming a tunnel which we gingerly entered. We inched over boulders, slid down slabs, and crawled our way through parts of this damp, dark hollowed out place. Our headlights revealed pockmarked, cracked, uneven walls and lavacicles that hung from the ceiling. We came upon misshapen lava pillars impeding forward progress, thus marking our turn-back point. By the time we clambered out of the tube, my body was chilled to the bone and I was exuberant to feel the sun.

earth weathers through all
summer’s torrid heat burns land
below ground, cold springs

Written for Haibun Monday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. Today Frank is our host and asks us to write about a hike, or somehow use the word hike in our post. Photos are from our 2017 visit to Iceland.
HAIBUN: 2 or 3 paragraphs of prose, must be true; followed by a haiku.

Arachnophobic . . .

I should have known.
She silked the room,
entered with swishing skirts.
Eye-lashed me
in that coquettish way.
Wove words into delights.
Spinning wheeled me,
unlike any woman I’d ever known.
I could not escape her wiles.
I skeined under her spell.
First hands, then arms,
then eyes, then heart.
My senses spooled as one,
tautly captured in her clutches.
She left me,
forever specimened.
Pushpinned my veins
until I was but a dried shell.
Once a vibrant man,
now locked in despair.
I shall never love again.

Written for Meet the Bar at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets from around the globe. Today, Bjorn asks us to “verbify” in our poem. That is, to use a noun, or several, as verbs in our poem. Photo taken a number of years ago at Ricoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires.

The Norwegian Fjiords

Sit with me, bundled up, in cold crisp air.
This aft cabin deck, sailing through fjiords,
the widest aperture to wonder we will see.

The long gaze observes staggering beauty.
Craning to look up provides a granular view,
landscape etched and carved by glaciers.

Snow capped mountains glisten before us,
pearlescent as sunlight touches peaks
grey and darker grey where shadows impede.

Below wintry remnants yet to melt
earthen tones dotted by green patches
compliment the scene.

Not content with singular grandeur,
mirrored reflections ripple,
swaying colors float on ocean’s blue.

Off ship, we explore Geiranger.
Van slowly chugs up hairpin turns
until road stops where winter has not.

Our ship sits far far below us
like a monopoly or lego piece
set in a mural of wondrous beauty.

We simply stare in awe
in profound silence,
and we understand.

We are but a few breaths
in the life of this earth.
She is the grandeur eternal.

Written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. I’m host for today’s Tuesday Poetics.

I have a second poem written today for Toads, with a wonderful video from our walk to day. You may want to check it out as well!

Given that so many people are sheltering at home during these challenging days, and almost everyone has cancelled recent travel plans, I thought it might be fun for dVerse folks to offer a travelogue of sorts….take you places while you’re sitting at home.

So the prompt is this: the title of the poem must be like a pin in a map: that is a place. The body of the poem must take us there with its words and imagery. I’ve also asked folks to post photos of the place, if that’s possible. Given that dVerse poets are from across the globe, literally, I think you’ll have a grand time reading our poetics today. Pub opens at 3 pm Boston time.

Photos from our 2017 trip to the Norwegian Fjiords. 

In Celebration of Matsuo Basho

When we travel, we most especially enjoy immersing ourselves in new cultures. Last April we toured the Asakusa area of Tokyo. Many people strolled these special grounds, photographing the iconic 5-tiered pagoda and praying before the Shinto and Buddhist shrines. We saw a good number of people in formal kimonos, rented from nearby shops to mark a celebratory visit, perhaps a birthday, engagement or anniversary. We stood quietly in front of a temple, in awe of its gold and rich reds. Walking a bit away from the crowds, we discovered a memorial to the poet Matsuo Basho. He lived from 1644 to 1694, during Japan’s Edo period. His haiku are considered the ultimate example of this poetic form. I touched his memorial stone in awe and appreciation.

As we ended our time at Asakusa, I talked with Kaz, our guide. I learned his mother wrote and published poetry in her youth and he told me more about the continued honor that Basho is paid in his country. He gifted me with the special pen he’d been using to jot down notes, in Japanese characters. He also gave me a beautiful writing pad with cherry blossoms etched on it. I was so very touched.

Later, back at our hotel, I did a bit of research and discovered Basho’s haiku about this place:

A cloud of cherry blossoms
the chime of a temple bell
is it Asakusa, is it Ueno?

花の雲    鐘は上野か   浅草か

see with your eyes wide ~
bees visit many gardens
all have sweet nectar

Day 27 of National Poetry Writing Month. Today’s post is written for both Toads and dVerse’sHaibun Monday. ¯¯

Toads asks us to consider the ancient tea ceremony and The Way of Tea which includes a good number of suggestions on how to share tea meaningfully. One, that I used to motivate this prompt is: “See with your eyes! Listen with your ears! And if you wish to smell the fragrance, press for an explanation of every unresolved matter until your understanding is complete.”
My haiku at the end moves beyond humans appreciating other cultures and explains that even the bee appreciates nectar from many gardens. 

Frank hosts dVerse and asks us to consider how similar Basho and Shakespeare were to their cultures, in their own time and for many generations to come. He asks us to write a haibun related to one of these famous literary geniuses.

Industrialization at a price . . .

On a hot summer day, we ventured back in history, on a day-trip to Lowell, Massachusetts.

A small boat took us through part of the 1796 Pawtucket Transportation Canal, with locks so old, their levers are maneuvered above us by National Park volunteers. Green trees reflect in the water marking a beautiful scene. But we’re told that once these waters were polluted thick with textile dyes as industrial capitalists captured hydro-energy from the Merrimack River falls to turn belts and wheels on thousands of textile machines.

In the Boott Cotton Mill Museum, we stand in a long factory room, filled machines, just as they were in the 1830s. Only three of the hundreds are turned on and the noise is deafening. We drip with sweat and imagine women as young as fifteen, standing in long dresses, no electricity for fans, tied to machines fourteen hours a day, six days a week.

sweltering summer
dogs pant laboriously
tethered to leashes

Frank hosts Haibun Monday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. Since today is Labor Day in the U.S., a day to celebrate workers, he asks us to write a haibun (2 or 3 paragraphs of prose — cannot be fiction; followed by a traditional haiku with reference to a season) that is somehow about labor. Canada celebrates Labor Day on the first Monday of September and more than 80 countries celebrate International Workers’ Day on May 1.

Photos and video from our recent day trip to Lowell, MA. An amazing step back in time. The Mill Girls, as they came to be known, were some of the first individuals to stage a strike against unfair wages and conditions. They were recruited to this factory city from rural farms in the nearby countryside. Companies required them to stay in the company boarding houses, attend church on Sunday, and live by “the bells” which woke them befroe dawn each morning, signalled meal times, and times to report to the floor. When Mill Girls left their jobs, waves of immigrants came to Lowell, working side-by-side with locals. Lowell did not stay with the times, keeping the hydrology-run factories until they all left for other parts of the country and Lowell fell on hard times. Warehouses were vacant and fell to disrepair. Senator Tsongas, from Lowell, together with Congress, established Lowell as a National Park and the city was “reborn” so to speak, rehabbing and restoring itself as a place to preserve history. An amazing place to visit!