July: A Sonnet

By Henry Allen | July 1, 2019
Pen Waggener/Flickr
Pen Waggener/Flickr

When I say “July,” 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.


July 4th fireworks jar American nights,
shells chugging upwards to snap/crackle/pop
amid the wistful smoke. Bright sounds! Loud lights!
Next day, July starts. Will it ever stop?
So very big, so lonely, like high plains
beneath a canopy of glare, a herd
beneath a tree, first thoughts of hurricanes
and Pickett’s “Charge!”—the Lost Cause in one word.
July is lilies in a dry, hard shade,
a disembodied triumph under superskies,
a month of lidlessness and lemonade,
of radiant boulevards and empty eyes.
July: Augustan mixed with Junoesque,
a half-baked poet sleeping at his desk.

Permission required for reprinting, reproducing, or other uses.

Comments powered by Disqus