Colder than the breath of Iku himself
egbon has come, slippery as an eel yet again
with mien as a shield
immune to the loud silence
as Iya Agba lay
spent in her mess.
Baba murdered infants in the war
and Iya Agba spat into Osun
a juvenile fool
but what is my own sin that you torment me so?
As flowers to a bee
As feces to a fly
I call you egbon, listen to my cry.

Oh Ika, ancient though you bawl
Irunmole buruku, timeless though you crawl
Have mercy on these children of men
Forget their blunders of before when
they knew of your wrath and unforgiveness.
Accept their offerings
appeasements being made
since before Maami bore me
for they are old and worn
this is a battle you have won.
Aburo, think of me
as you close your eyes in mock
I promise to follow you
To the river
To the market
To the end of the earth if you want
Only wait and play with me.
By Baba’s shriveling loins I swear
Not one scar on your body
Who would dare?
Egbon mi, Aburo mi
Let me be your protector
Till Iku your accomplice
takes me when my years are done
be-shielding only you.



Iku -Death

Egbon  – Elder sibling 

Iya Agba – Older mother

Baba – Father

Osun – River goddess of fertility in Yoruba land

Ika – Wicked one

Irunmole buruku – Terrible demon

Maami – My mother

Aburo – Younger sibling



I’ve always been fascinated with Wole Soyinka and JP Clark’s Abiku poems, and thus this was borne from them both. Wole Soyinka writes from the perspective of a proud Abiku who feels no remorse whatsoever about the pain he causes while JP Clark tells the story from the side of a relative begging the Abiku to stay.

Author: teleola

A melancholic sanguine. Christ's ambassador.

18 thoughts on “Abiku”

  1. I can’t remember whose abiku poem ended with “remember this and dig me deeper into God’s swollen foot,” but hey, that was the best poem I read as a child.

    I want to profess love to you, Tele, but due to your current conjugal bliss, I’ll limit this to a stiff handshake.

    LOL screw it. I loveeeeeee itttt and I love youuuu.


  2. When I first saw this, I did not understand..I am hopeless with poems see..then Tele explained. And illumination!


    Good one Teleola. I like the POV..won’t have esspered it


  3. So I like this poem. I really really like this poem. This and Blaqknyght’s Okun are top of the crop of blog produced poetry I’ve read this year. I like the POV and the homage to Wole Soyinka’s ‘ageless though I Puke’ line. As an homage to these poets this poem is excellent.


    I personally do not like poems about Abiku that lean too heavily on the themes of Soyinka’s and/or JP Clark’s Abiku. I dont like them because both poets so thoroughly owned their poems that any other poem will judged on contrast to theirs and deemed inferior. I had to fight hard to not fall to that

    There is so much about Abiku that hasn’t been explored through poetry. So many questions you can try to answer. What is birth or the long painful death like for an Abiku, who is a sentient being pre-birth. What does the spirit realm look like for Abiku? what happens when an Abiku loses their tether to the spirit realm and is forced to stay, is the forgetting long and painful like alzheimers or easy like amnesia? Abiku lore states that each time an Abiku is born it supplants the spirit of a real child, banishing them to wander the spirit world forever, where are the poems about them?

    There is enough material to make a poetry chapbook even.

    @waterwidower’s We Are Born, is the most interesting take on Abiku I have come across. Do check it out.


    1. I’m happy you fought to like this (and won!) and for your high praise. Putting me side by side with a wonderful writer like blaqknyght is making me ecstatic. I will definitely check this story out.
      Thank you.


      1. I do look forward to Edd’s poem comments.

        I have also wondered at other abiku themes. I loved Teleola’s take on this and now look at those angles you just brought out. I hope readers are seeing these..expecting fresher themed poems soon.


  4. So network finally permitted me to open this up and as the norm for me with poems,I had to take my time to assimilate. Yourself,Dunni and Lekan are rare gifts in my writing world ‘dominated’ by prose writers. Taking a leaf from Soyinka’s book but not leaning too heavily took a certain level of dexterity. Tele,you know we have chemistry but you always deny and you’ll deny again.

    I’ll be here waiting when you finally realise I’m the ewedu to your Amala. Wonderful write-up once again.


  5. An appeasement to Abiku.
    Abiku is a metaphor for cyclic progression.
    Even Nigeria as a country herself behaves like an abiku.
    This is well written.
    I’m also flattered with the ways my handle/pseudonym came up here.
    Nice one Tele.


    1. I agree with you. When good leaders come around, our hopes soar but then we are let down when they leave office and bad ones take over, taking us back to square one.
      Your poems inspire and make some of us try hard. Keep inspiring.
      Thank you.


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