The gull tosses
the fish
with as much
as the osprey
his catch
and I
the fresh
sea air.

If you like this poem, you’ll LOVE Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind, the new book by Jen Payne. Click here to buy your copy today! ©2017, Jen Payne

Chatham’s South Beach Shrine

We walk along an outermost spot – one of those remote and seemingly isolated spaces that exist scant miles from the 216,000 residents of Cape Cod. This, Chatham’s South Beach, is a breathtaking expanse of shoreline watched over by the famed Chatham Lighthouse and, more recently, Great Whites.

It looks different than the first time I saw it years ago, but such is the fate of the outer shore of the Cape—its profile forever carved by the ebb and flow of the Atlantic and her whims (and whorls).

On this visit, there is more water, less beach, the walk from the upper parking lot down to the shore is noticeably shorter. And still, the fishing boats pass, the seals bob, a kite soars, a dog wanders. In the distance, you cannot miss the distinct and dramatic sound of the ocean surf pounding against what remains of “the bar”—the last vestige of calm before the deep and wild beyond.

These days, a quarter-mile walk down the beach brings you to the South Beach Shrine, a makeshift homage to all things flotsam and jetsam. The literal “what we leave behind.”

It is many things, this shrine — part protest and part art project, part community rallying cry and part curiosity. Its irony reminds me of Prada Marfa, its whimsy like a roadside attraction, its message disheartening. Thankfully, it is big and bold enough to hold all of our interpretations, and strong enough to withstand the ever-changing landscape of coast and culture.


Story and Photos ©2017, Jen Payne. For more, see Occupy Chatham South Beach on Facebook.

NOW ON SALE: Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind, a collection of poetry and photographs illustrating how changing the world begins with you and me.

Great Cape Escape 2015: A New Familiar

A NEW FAMILIAR I know you …….like the seashore clings to the sea. Haven’t we walked this way before? Sand to one side, depths of ocean to the other, partners in this solitary meditation. Then it’s as much a surprise to you as to me that something has changed. ©2015, Jen Payne, #30 National Poetry […]

Great Cape Escape 2015: The Organization of Stones

THE ORGANIZATION OF STONES The organization of stones is futile pursuit here on this vast primoridial plane. We want to see straight lines, patterns, purpose, reason. But there is comfort in the random, relief when the neat row of stones is suddenly washed away: so I will go, and you will go. Listen closely, it’s […]

Great Cape Escape 2015: Jetsam

JETSAM Someday, someone will find us here, see how we were by the sea, tread into footprints long left behind, put our ghosts in a pocket, hear our whispers in hallways of shells. ©2015, Jen Payne, #28 National Poetry Month Photo ©2015, Jen Payne; Cape Cod, Massachusetts.