Poetry Centre

ESL category

  • First Place: 'Jean Rhys' by Helena Fornells

    she is         the end fire
    at the end

    unnamed      (wrong name)
    look back:

    what may happen
    when you grow up by the sea
    they do not know

    they do not know
    it is white          warm
    blue and everywhere: sounds

    woman and
    land occupied       not sea


    I cannot be like her
    who writes from above
    moved to the same country

    that journey I understand
    cold in many respects
    that’s it                        

    I can understand her fury but
    she’s not me now not this me”


    mother! mother we think
    of you
    before death all our lives

    your hair is red but
    it is with her that the fire was

    I do not have that fire.

    Helena Fornells

  • Second Place:
     'Sweet Like A Bao' by Rachel Ka Yin Leung

    (A pastiche of Michael Ondaatje’s poem, 'Sweet Like a Crow')

    Your voice sounds like the red of a lampshade
    at the wet market
    like the flopping of fish on the chopping block
    like swearing taxi drivers
    like a leaky AC unit, like the innards of a
    too-hot dimsum, like a stray cat meowing,
    a chow-mein being chowed
    a truck mixing concrete
    a canton opera at the Central Pier.
    Like an Octopus card beep,
    like a plethora of neon light boxes
    like pergolas in the park,
    a chestnut shell, an MTR crowd
    when the doors are closing
    like the speed meter on a red minibus
    like Char Siu Bao,
    an old-style cash register, like a million
    Mark Six balls being scrambled, like someone
    trying to sub-divide a flat,
    the opening jingle of a TV documentary three doors down,
    a really uninteresting PSA on Radio One,
    the sound of a waiter when someone is slow to order,
    like durians being opened on a rock
    like a whole housing estate airing out their dirty laundry
    on a Monday, like an enthusiastic beginner
    shuffling the Mahjong tiles, like Cha Chaan Teng,
    like 7 oranges rolling down the slope
    like 5 pickpockets pickpocketing
    like the sound I heard when having an afternoon sleep
    and someone tried to tune the piano.

    Rachel Ka Yin Leung

  • Special Commendation: 'Lune' by Rachel Ka Yin Leung


    sink, sink deep
    carve a niche into my head
    fish scales falling
    fall the way
    still-green leaves
    fall like rain

    a concrete lightness
    simmering stones and
    stale week-old tea bags
    a splinter
    a lancet
    a three-inch tarantula in my side

    i cannot look you in
    the eye, the eye, the eye.


    it sings
    it stops
    it threatens to turn me inside out
    from the throat
    from the seams

    fingers you were holding as we
    navigate the crowded platform
    in the warm wind,
    white light
    on the train
    kite-running from the smashed window-panes
    a fishing line
    a telephone line
    a flying
    crescent ridge, half lune

    never the sun but always the moon.

    it sighs in technicolour
    spin, spin, spinning.

    Rachel Ka Yin Leung