Lights Out by Chiamaka Nwangwu (Winner – Poetry Category)

Poetry Category

1st Position –  Lights Out by Chiamaka Nwangwu

I wish that I could capture brilliantly the art that was 21 road yesterday
Of the lone fueling station surrounded at all angles by hundreds of cars waiting for fuel.
The sweat trickling down the brows of the tired fueling station workers
Hands cramped up from hours of injecting fuel into cars and jerry cans
I wish I could capture the ebony coloured face
Of the little child still scurrying along the streets of Festac at night
Jerry can in her hand and determination on her face
Desperate for ten litres to last her madam’s family the night
I wish I could capture the sigh of the tired single mother
Gazing at the empty fuel sign in her car
Thoughts on the absent father who won’t provide
And on the children for whom she can give so little
I wish I could capture the controlled expression of the middle class worker
Foreseeing another night of darkness
Of rumpled clothes and hot pure water to drink
Another day the children have to take a public bus to school
I wish I could capture the worried look of the bus driver
The frustration in his eyes and slight crease of his brow
Unsure of his tomorrow
Of the empty seats that will greet his now empty fuel tank
I wish I could capture the teary eyes of the little boy
Riding shotgun in his father’s car
Thinking no cartoons for the night
No excited squeal when his father draws the rope that pulls the generator
I wish I could capture the determined gait of the market woman
Wrapper half undone, trailing along on the dirt road
Making her way along the zigzag route of long car lines
Hand absently on her bra, stuffed full with crumpled Naira notes.
I wish I could capture the graceful strike of the match
Of the teenage girl lighting a candle from the flat across the street
Younger siblings clustered around her
Resigning to the fate of another day without light
I wish I could capture the tired smile of the grandfather
Entertaining his grandchildren with stories on the veranda
With just the moonlight to shield them
From the darkness of this night

LIGHTS OUT (1st Position - Poetry)

by Chiamaka Nwangwu | Creative Writing Contest


Chiamaka Chukwudire Nwangwu is a contemporary Igbo-Lagosian. She is currently in her fourth year of a romantic relationship with the Faculty of Law, University of Ibadan. She is a budding public speaker. She loves to read but particularly enjoys reading contemporary Nigerian fiction, history, and poetry.

Her poem, “Defiance in Death” was published in the 1st edition of the top 100 poems of the Nigerian Students Poetry Prize Anthology, “The sun will rise again” in the year 2016. She won 1st place in the Kreative Diadem Poetry Prize for her poem “Lights Out” in December 2017. Her essay, “Savior” was published in the “My Book Affair” section of the literary blog,

Chiamaka is absolutely certain that she is supposed to write.



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