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By Abdulkareem Abdulkareem in Issue Fourteen, March 2024

"About six million residents of Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, risk lung cancer as a result of the impact of black soot." —Dr Furo Green

"Over 25, 000 estimated death counts in Rivers State from black soot related health conditions in 2019" —River State Ministry of Health

Smoke eats into the cloud like rust
chewing out the doors of a decrepit bus.
I push the wind in my throat into a cough,
black spittle on my palms, the colour of night—
I've inhaled too much of this darkness, but
I'm human made-for-breath. In spite of my
dread for cigarettes, the air winds me to the
height of a smoker. I cull a song with my breath
of carbon, for my brother’s eighteenth birthday.
My mother wraps her hands into prayer—deep
inside the water—says may the Lord submerge
our sufferings like the water drowning our homes.

© 2024 Abdulkareem Abdulkareem

Abdulkareem Abdulkareem

Abdulkareem Abdulkareem (he/him) Frontier III, is a Nigerian writer and linguist. He is a recipient of the Hill Top Creative Writing Award for Excellence, 2023. He has been nominated for the Best of the Net thrice and was nominated for Best Spiritual Literature. His works appear and are forthcoming on National Museum of Language, POETRY, Transition, MIZNA, Waxwing, Uncanny Magazine, Poetry Wales, SAND, Nat Brut, West Trade Review, LOLWE, Harbor Review, Southern Humanities Review, Isele, Qwerty Magazine, Shallow Tales Review, Nigeria News Direct, & elsewhere.

Poetry by Abdulkareem Abdulkareem
  • Soot