One week, you think summer will last forever--the smell of hot grass, the dirty glints off windshields, the girls wearing tank tops with bra straps visible. (Last year it was crop tops with navels visible.)

Then there's an afternoon when the light looks different. It doesn't fill the air anymore with a huge squatty glare. It angles in, making things look precise but irrelevant--the rope hammock you never fell asleep in, the dried-out day lilies.

You realize summer is actually going to end--maybe not soon, but sometime.

The thing about summer is, if you think it's going to end, then it doesn't feel like summer anymore. It just feels shopworn, like the old cardboard displays in shoe-repair windows, the ones with the sun-bleached Geppetto cobbler and his mustache.

The kids who hang at the town beach parking lot start to seem like losers.

When you drive around looking for parties, there aren't any. Or if there are, you get the feeling you've shown up too late (the guys are already out leaning against their cars and drinking beer) or too early (everybody looks at you and you feel like a dork).

You realize you're not going to lose your virginity this summer.

Flocks of birds don't seem to know where they're going, but they seem to know there's somewhere to go. Sunset skies have a feeling of procession, like a freight train. Back in high summer there was no place to go because you were already there. Now, in late August, you're nowhere with no place to go.

A baton rises and falls in the Novaks' back yard where Brandi is practicing for majorette tryouts, but no one backstrokes the Novaks' pool anymore shouting, "Heaven! Heaven!" Your office is half-deserted, and half of the ones still there leave early, and half of the ones left don't talk to each other except to complain there's too much air conditioning.

It feels like the season of whatever annoys you--aggressive drivers, your kids watching television with heels over the couch back and heads on the floor, the desperate yellow jackets going after your ham sandwich, the smell of marigolds, and fat raccoons lying slaughtered on highways. You're tired of all this road construction, too.

No more fireflies. The cicadas grind. Some animal steals the apples from your dwarf apple tree and buries them in your potted plants. (Why?) At night, there's a dark, doomed, tired, heavy mildew smell. Your garden has a mustiness that catches in the back of your throat.

There's no poetry left in things, just things left in things. Unless there's a poem about how there's no poetry in things.

Poem About How There's No Poetry Now

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. "Send me e-mail? 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.

CAPTION: Hopes and expectations fade with the light.

CAPTION: This time of year, the garden's mustiness catches in the back of your throat, and the cicadas are grinding.

CAPTION: In August you realize summer is actually going to end--maybe not soon, but sometime.