Below are the winning entries in the Senior Category of the Urban Love Poetry competition. All poems are copied and pasted in their original states, excepting edits made per the authors request.
First Place – 4 a.m.
The wet pavement, patchwork of asphalt,
scatters the orange glow
of the streetlights overhead.
How their halos diffuse into the night fog,
how the occasional red taxis speed across
the sprawling tentacles of freeways, unrestrained.
The specks of apartment lights cluster
against the indigo hills,
and the airplanes blink in the clouds,
engines humming to the antennae.
Maybe it is the abandoned bus stop
tucked underneath the highway,
rusted railings and faded routes behind
the overgrown South China Maple.
Who are the passengers?
The cigarette butt on the brick tiles smolders.
I belong here. I do not belong here.
This place will do just fine on its own.
So I stand and watch the sky turn.
Boris Leung (age 16) | HKBUAS Wong Kam Fai Secondary & Primary School
Second Place – If it truly was love (I want to believe it is)
I know not of love,
And how it feels,
Do I love you?
This cramped city with its tight corners and uneven stones, a metal concrete jungle painted in crumbling pale greens and pinks and yellows, steel wrapped in glass and glamour, smoke and dust and magenta bauhinias that rests in my lungs.
Even so I suppose I do love you
In that childish, nonsensical, abstract way of mine that I’ve only ever known.
And like a child,
I know not how to truly express it so.
Your evening sky with sunset trailing over round the corner,
Is sunlight dripping at the edges of a pale blue canvas dotted with lavender and white and grey.
It is a herald, a signal for artificial lights to come alive in ink black night
A soundless dance of flashing plastic starlight-orange and white blinking to and fro.
I like to think I adore that about you.
The scent of baked goods in the air, sugar and pastry flakes on the tip on my tongue.
The never-ending hum that vibrates within the belly of this city, felt through
The brick and concrete floors. A labyrinth twisted with vines and trees and steel.
There’s green peeking through grey, yellow pink green blue colouring the walls of this small world.
Pigeons and doves peer down from their high-up perches
Of electrical wires and tiled walls.
I breathe in the sea, the salt spray and stare ahead at the fractured green glass liquid.
Ahead there’s boats of all shapes and sizes. A red junk sails by as I watch.
Green and white with double decks and tires at its edges, a relic, transport of the past seen in yellowed paper.
Will you still be there when I’m old and grey? Still the same?
Do I love you? I still don’t know.
Fantasy or truth I’m still not sure.
Is it burning roaring red? Soft pink and pastels? Calm and steady blue? What colour? What colour will it be?
So maybe I’ll ask myself again when I wake up tomorrow.
Or maybe I’ll just call it “love” anyways.
Christine Tsoi (age 15) | King George V School
Third Place – Vignettes of Home
The minibus wheezes for breath, rattling up the road,
fluorescent numbers flash a warning that the driver ignores,
quickly reprimanded by a deafening beep.
Head leaning against the window, I ignore how my skull bounces off the dirty glass.
All I see: behind the looming streetlight, black birds soaring against a faded wash of green,
A stop-motion film made for an audience of one.
Wooden chopsticks kiss white porcelain, strangers clap and shout.
But watch: a ritual unfolds with just a glass bowl and a pot.
The hiss of boiling tea swirling in cups and bowls, a makeshift waterfall crashing over
chopsticks and plates, sound swelling like the murky depths of the sea.
Strangers are strangers no more, connected, like the flow of water from cup to bowl.
The bowl is emptied and carried away, a heirloom passed down.
The doors beep, groaning and flashing a sickly green, expelling a sea of grey suits,
Figures collide, waltzing to a hidden rhythm.
In the dilapidated hallway of a peeling building, a graffitied lift creaks to a halt and opens.
Suddenly I see: A woman exiting the room, in the mood for love.
Stickers layered onto the flaky walls, like mud hardening into stone in the hollow of a ruin.
Behind it, a secret remains, guarded and eternal.
The thin plastic tarp gapes up at me, an expression of shock and anger.
With the roar of “sik fan!”, my guilty fingers cease, picking up a pair of chopsticks.
Glow sticks crack like old joints, cards are shuffled, flame caresses paper
A child lights a candle. I look up and see:
The moon smiling, face round and plump, watching as wax drips onto tin lids,
A sickly pink heartbeat in time with my own.
Kristy Ma (age 15) | King George V School