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Blood Ties


I grew up in a hazy house –
there was always something foggy
smoking between my father’s burnt fingers.

For years, I watched a dimmed light
light up another dimmed light

There are things I wish I didn’t know:
the average lifespan of a cigarette
is three hundred and sixty seconds

I know how the future crumbles into ash –
every lit stick on my father’s lips
was the cremation of our dreams

I know addiction is puffing death into your body
and daring it to invoke its worse

I have tinged doubts about science
years ago, I checked the lifespan of a chronic smoker –
and against the odds he is still here –
still here but shockingly leaving soon

Nothing prepares you for death,
not even when you see it coming

At the hospital,
the doctor says he should put his house in order,
and for the first time, I saw the vapour
that evaporated rain down my father’s eyes

Halfway home, I asked to use the restroom
at the mall and returned smelling like my dad

We locked eyes, said nothing,
because death leaves us all speechless.

Ibrahim Abu

Abu Ibrahim (IB) is a published Nigerian poet. He has also performed at the Pa Gya Literary Festival in Ghana, Lagos International Poetry Festival, Say It Out, Lagos and more.

He is the recipient of the Lagos State University (LASU) Debate Society Impact Maker Award for Storytelling and Outstanding Impact, and the 2023 winner of the Port Harcourt Poetry Festival Poetry/Spoken Word Poetry Album of the Year – for his debut poetry album; ‘Music Has Failed Us’.

PJ2024 Longlist
1. Blood Ties
2. Born Again
3. Entreaty
4. Good Mothers Stay Home, Good Fathers Pay
5. Pain Is A Place
6. Postpartum Depression in Men
7. Prayers
8. Premonition
9. The Hood
10. What Came Out as a Poem

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