Two Poems by Tim Fab-Eme

Oily Skin

Pimples paint my oily skin,
sometimes they burst like bombs
stifling the swifts and shrimps
and shrews on my forehead;
I hide my blemished face
in a mask of sobriquets.                                          

You call me oil-rich, friend,
and smirk as sycophants do;
you spell my name backward
hiding these blebs in lies
that grow fatter every day.

I’m a waif, I only
salivate as strangers scoop away
the fish and the meat
in the pepper soup pot.

I do not wane alone,
earth, too, fades with me;
the ozone layer convicts you.

True, these blackheads belittle me
spilling loss into my heart;

they have smashed my self-esteem.


Epitaph in Your Head

On this bed of final thoughts

I lift my limp limbs like
a worn out phallus after sex,

trying to slow throes’ inevitable call;
I laughed at you, not Earth,
when you knelt and felt my

ribs and sang the hearse’s song;
child, don’t ever cry for me,
life’s poetry best created in solitude—
an oeuvre when tomorrow never comes.

The birth we celebrate is death;
I was pushed into this world
like excrement that passed its time,
and I chirped like a cricket
rubbing its wings in the night

for this Earth, my child, is
a picture drawn by a drunk
who travels beyond us, creating all
the things God forgot to make;
not the one I beautifully drew
in my mother’s little boundless world.

And pushed into this wild woods
whose fruits are the simple diseases
the drug makers have made incurable
whose rustling leaves echo into wars
that keep our leaders in offices
whose trunks are the ninety-nine stomachs
the one-percent base its strong rooms

whose roots are the divisions
created to make us forget humanity…
but amid the murk, my child,
there were the midway extra times
your mother made paradise with a
smile and her sting renewed me;
now the finches and the thrushes
sweetly sing me, an old child,

to sleep the final sleep today.
And if you must eulogize me
let me live in your inside;
please don’t make me a monument
or create mementos that flatter life,
for nature’s foul elements cut down
the giant statues that glorify self;
and always reckon that an epitaph
in your head is itself eternity.

Tim Fab-Eme experiments with poetic forms; he writes about exploitation, identity and the environment. His work has appeared in The Malahat Review, New Welsh Review; FIYAH and Magma, etc. Tim often turns to reggae and jazz whenever the news weighs him down. He studied engineering at the Niger Delta University, and when he isn’t working on control instruments, he picks a book and buries himself in it. Tim is pursuing a BA in English Studies at the University of Port Harcourt; he lives in Rivers, Nigeria.