Poetry Out Loud

2020 Poetry Ourselves: Kieran Ellis

A companion to Poetry Out Loud, the Poetry Ourselves competition gives students the opportunity to submit original poetry. The 2020 competition was open to state champions as well as students who advanced to their state final in states that were unable to hold a competition this year.

Kieran Ellis, the 2020 Idaho Poetry Out Loud State Champion and a student at Kuna High School in Kuna, is the 2020 Poetry Ourselves written poetry winner for the poem “Drought.”


The concrete burns the soft underside of our feet, so we walk in brisk tiptoes.
Racing across the patio,
outstretching our gait to reach the nearest puddle before it evaporates.
We make it to safety in the grass
or wave a white flag and slip on dingy flip flops, still plagued by sand.
We drag out the buckets, the gardening tools, the cooking utensils Nana has no more use for.
We reach for the hose and mutter “lefty loosey, righty tighty” under our breath.
Then we feel the sweltering gaze on the backs of our necks and stop,
pulling our hand off the hose bibb like it might bite.
The hose turns into desert kingsnake.
The grass sobs and shrivels up.
Any remaining water flies to freedom, knowing it will never come back to earth, at least not here.
The sun apologizes, more for our sake than hers.
She is ruthless, we know this, and we cannot stop her.
We can’t remember the rain.
We can’t remember the feeling of the first drops on the palms of our hands.
We can’t remember looking up as the clouds march across the sky, the way they blur and
How the timid drops turn into glorious pour.
We can’t remember the feeling of it sliding down our cheeks,
soaking through our shirts,
and not caring for the cold it brings, just embracing,
shivers turning into raspy laughter.
We only know the heat.
The beet red cheeks and peeling shoulders.
The uneven tans.
Wearing calamine lotion like war paint.
We know to only take what we need.
To never let the tap run.
To look towards the mental clock that runs on gallons disappearing down the drain.
We remember the drought.
So we hang up the hose.
Gather the buckets, the gardening tools, the cooking utensils.
And sit under the protection of the shade.