Note: Yesterday a pretty fair gale roared through McHenry County and broke the back of our latest snap of 90˚ plus days. That was, I believe, day 39 of that kind of heat this summer. We look to have a few pleasant days before the furnace roars again. I wrote the poem below last August when it was also miserably hot, but also humid and wet. A real steamer. This year has felt more like Arizona. At least we have so far been spared the land hurricane that kept us out of power for days. The intro is new this year
Whew! The Dog Days of August have arrived. The encyclopedia informs us that this sweltering weather gets its name from the proximity of Sirius the Dog Star, to the Sun. We always thought it was because the dogs lay under the porch panting all day.
There is nothing, of course, unusual, about hot weather in the summer time. But this year across most of North America there has been a brutal onslaught of extended periods of record heat, breaking record after record. With the heat has come wild fires in the west, drought over two thirds of the country, and powerful storms that boil up in the super-heated air and unleash sudden torrents in some places and wind damage rivaling hurricanes in others.
How hot has it been? Well, satellite images show that the Greenland ice cap has virtually completely melted before summer is half over. That’s hot.
You may then forgive my cranky stab at some seasonal poetry.
Nobody Writes Poetry About August
Oh sure, gush about your May mornings,
your dazzling June, even your soggy April.
Haul out your Roget’s for September ripening grain,
October umber and amber, November crisp air.
Let crystal December dazzle your eyes,
and wallow in some January bleak mid-winter.
Maybe if it weren’t for lovers February, short and wretched,
might fare worse—who can rhyme it anyway?
But who writes paeans and odes to August?
Long days have lost their charm amid the swelter,
birds gasp on telephone wires,
stray cats dance on asphalt,
sweating lovers can’t be bothered,
children crank and whine,
strangers snap like match sticks
and fill each other full of holes,
the fucking lawn needs mowing—again.
Write about that, you damn poets.
Go ahead—I dare you.
Now that I’ve got that off my chest, I feel better. How about you?