Though some news sources claim the heat wave is behind us, it's summer — AKA, you can never be sure. Frankly, August is all about those sneaky switch-ups that leave you reeling: beach day one minute, school day the next. Of course it's bound to be hot. What better relief for the swelter than poems?
Believe it or not, lots of smart people believe in battling hot with hot. In an article for NPR's The Salt, Joe Palca talks about the science of cooling down (you know, on a hot day) with a warm beverage. Palca writes, "When the brain gets the message "It's hot in here," it turns on the mechanism we have to cool ourselves off: sweating." So, fine, I don't have hard science to back up reading hot poems when it's steamy outside, but ... well, that's beside the point. Reading does help you get outside of yourself, which can be really, really nice when "yourself" feels like a human sauna.
If you're looking to take a break from all that clothes-sticking-to-you, water-not-doing-a-bit-of-good, AC-not-getting-cold-enough-fast-enough, you're in luck. These 7 poems are all kinds of off the thermometer, guaranteed to provide cool, quenching relief when the weather's sticky.
"I Do" by Sjohnna McCray
Body chemistry changes like the color
of my skin: from yellow to sienna.
My sister says, it’s a dry heat.
"Sweat" by Sandra Alcosser
Babies have been conceived on sweat alone—
the buttery scent of a woman’s breast,
the cumin of a man.
"Dear Corporation" by Adam Fell
we can only cleanse our
bodies so much before we
realize it’s not our bodies that
"Muse, a Lady Cautioning" by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers
Yes, these predictable fifths. O, the blues
is all about slinging those low tales out
the back door (sing: child pried open on that
"Fat Southern Men in Summer Suits" by Liam Rector
Fat Southern men in their summer suits,
Usually with suspenders, love to sweat
Into and even through their coats,
Taking it as a matter of honor to do so,
Especially when the humidity gets as close
As it does each Southern summer.
"Kissing in Vietnamese" by Ocean Vuong
My grandmother kisses as if history
"Emergency Haying" by Hayden Carruth
a full new-risen moon like a pale
medallion hangs in a lavender cloud
beyond the barn. My eyes
sting with sweat and loveliness.