Roscoe Burnems

Not Thirst. Preparation.

Volume 17:4, Fall 2016
Slam Issue


My daughter drinks a lot of water
And I was worried it was because
she’s trying to quench the fiery passion in her belly.
[Or] so concerned about the singe of failure
she prays to countless bottles of Dasani
to drench it.

“My daughter drinks water
like a fish” I’d say in jest,
but I’ve been looking at it all wrong.
She isn’t gills and fins.
She is hydrogen and oxygen.

My daughter drinks water
because she understands this world
will either suffocate you or leave you out to dry,
But nothing evaporates the sea.

My daughter drinks lots of water to replenish.
Sometimes her eyes are Atlantic and Pacific.
Even then, there is a continent’s worth of resilience between them.

My daugher drinks a lot of water
and has become a stream of childish innocence,
And a tenacity that comes in waves.
Her favorite place to be is the beach,
for her it’s like looking at a mirror:
She knows when to push people and when to ebb.
She only bows to the moon
and keeps the same crescent smile.

My daughter drinks a lot of water
after every playground session, ballet lesson, fight, and argument.
The hurricane brewing inside,
needs all the fuel it can get.


Douglas Powell (Roscoe Burnems), born and raised in Richmond, VA, is a full time teacher, mentor, activist, poet, husband and proud father. He is a published author and became a National Poetry Slam Champion in 2014 with the DC Beltway Poetry Slam Team.