Papa’s Scary Talk About COVID-19 and Pollution

Again, Papa drags the TV remote from my little girl,

his grimace listing all the ills of our nowadays children—

true, such headiness didn’t exist even in my own time;

and once they start the territorial dance of Agama agama

I quickly zip my lips and run into the kitchen

before his festering eyes ask how she became a dictator.


Mia’s a swashbuckler—I feign cackles and cheer her CBeebies.

I don’t know why Papa likes cold wars. Maybe, he

envies her for having all the things he only read

about in his own childhood. But I don’t bother him

about the things he couldn’t give me in my childhood.


Papa pressed the remote the way Mia traps roaches. CNN.

COVID-19 has hit world trade. Nigeria would learn to drink

her crude oil, to stuff her lungs with greenhouse gases/

It’s a beautiful thing, you know, Papa announces. I shriek.


But people are dying, I say. He shakes his head

like a mantis. There’s less pollution now, you know. Silence.

Good walks with evil—and that’s a fact, you know.


I nod and Papa plays on: Our globetrotting politicians being

home with us is wonderful, you know. Silence. Think, son.


Papa talks the way Mama talked the night she died.


—April 1, 2020


Author: Tim Fab-Eme

Tim Fab-Eme enjoys playing with poetic forms and the themes of identity, exploitation and the environment; he loves gardening and sometimes thinks himself a farmer. Tim hopes to revisit his long-abandoned prose manuscripts and treat them the way he treats his poetry manuscripts. He lives in Rivers; his work is published in The Malahat Review, New Welsh Review, Magma; apt, The Fiddlehead and FIYAH, etc. Tim studied engineering at the Niger Delta University, and is presently pursuing a BA in English Studies at the University of Port Harcourt.

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