Underground City & Other Poems

by Lia Varbanova

Underground City

Red, green lights
Thirty days too early.
A ceiling of stars for the cars
Passing below.

Hint of cigarettes under palm trees,
The wet monsoon,
Syrup heat in transit
From forehead to neck.

The underground city
Deserves its title.
A jungle rebuilt;
Underpasses and unearthed secrets
Of basement beauty.


Here, Where You Began

Here, we never run out of shop-houses
Demanding fresh coats of paint.
The food courts are always open.
We always have
Sweet & sour fish.

The sea is swarmed with ships.
Here, you find starfish on seabeds, and
Sneak Subway into the cinema, all in one breath.

Here, I lost my passions, and here,
I found them again. By jazz singers at the river’s stage,
The boat atop the casino, by the red chilli and chocolate
Mix of cocktails, the merlion’s spewed water,
The straits, harbours, like pointillism
From the cable car.

The MRT takes me to Clarke Quay
I am seeking Turkish ice-cream.
I am a foreigner again.

The bar-lights
Are still reflected in Singapore’s river.
Scribbles on rubber spheres float in the waters,
My childhood wishes written, anchored.

I have lost it all: travelled far from a
Culture that skid down from the sun,
Like rice, spilling over
My closed fists.


Here, Where You Began by Lia Varbanova has been previously published in George Mason High School’s literary magazine, “Nine Muses,” which is a member of the Columbia Scholastic Press Association, a program of Columbia University in New York City.

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