American Life in poetry

My parents didn’t live long enough to be confronted with the notion of paying for a bottle of water. They’d be horrified. Pay for water? Who ever heard of such a thing? Well … here’s a good poem by Kim Dower, who lives in Los Angeles, Calif., about what we go through to quench our thirst today.

Bottled Water

I go to the corner liquor store

for a bottle of water, middle

of a hectic day, must get out

of the office, stop making decisions,

quit obsessing does my blue skirt clash

with my hot pink flats; should I get

my mother a caregiver or just put her

in a home, and I pull open the glass

refrigerator door, am confronted

by brands-Arrowhead, Glitter Geyser,

Deer Park, spring, summer, winter water,

and clearly the bosses of bottled water:

Real Water and Smart Water-how different

will they taste? If I drink Smart Water

will I raise my IQ but be less authentic?

If I choose Real Water will I no longer

deny the truth, but will I attract confused,

needy people who’ll take advantage

of my realness by dumping their problems

on me, and will I be too stupid to help them

sort through their murky dilemmas?

I take no chances, buy them both,

sparkling smart, purified real, drain both bottles,

look around to see is anyone watching?

I’m now brilliantly hydrated.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It also is supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Introduction copyright 2013 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-06. Unsolicited manuscripts are not accepted.