August: A Sonnet

By Henry Allen | August 1, 2019
Alexa Avitto/Flickr
Alexa Avitto/Flickr

When I say “August,” the word evokes different memories and emotions than when I say “October.” Over the course of my career, I’ve written about a range of feelings—relief, despair, the hope and horror of love—in poetry, reporting, and prose. As part of a yearlong series for the Scholar, each month I am contributing a new poem to a sonnet cycle, marking the changing seasons in the rhyme and meter of an Elizabethan verse.


August is flabbergasted and contrite
that it should come to this: the sagging air
that smells like swimsuits left in cars all night,
and breathless barbershops where barbers stare
at dingy sidewalks, aging light, dry trees.
And starry dune loves coming to a close,
like beach umbrellas. “Message me, please. Please?”
“I promise. Absolutely.” So it goes,
from possibility to aftermath.
Deathwatch hydrangeas guard an old man’s door,
a thin, forsaken lawn, a dry birdbath.
That’s all that’s left. There isn’t any more.
August is easy come and chronic go,
the early twilights mounting up like snow.

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