Grace Chia

Grace Chia PhotoGrace Chia is the author of two full-length poetry collections, womango and Cordelia, two non-fiction books as well as literary chapbooks. Her short stories and poetry have been widely anthologised in textbooks and literary journals, including Understanding Literature (Pearson/Longman Singapore), Singapore Literature in English: An Anthology (National University Press), Mining for Meaning (Learners), Merlion: An Anthology of Poems, Fish Eats Lion, Di-Verse-City (USA), HOW2 (USA), Stylus Poetry Journal (Australia), die horen (Germany), La Traductiere (France) and Knijzevne Novine (Serbia). Her works have been translated into French, German and Serbian. She was a guest writer to the Austin International Poetry Festival (USA) and the Queensland Poetry Festival (Australia) in 2002, the National Young Writers Festival in Newcastle (Australia) in 2003 and the Singapore Writers’ Festival in 2011 and 2012.In 2011-2012, she was the inaugural NAC-NTU National Writer-In-Residence. Currently, she is working on her novels and teaching at the English Division of NTU.



The ghost goes round
Closing doors
Flushing toilets

Is this my home?

Same sky, same soil,
Overturned, flattened,
Dug and redug
The old apartments have fallen
To dust
These are new steel
Year-old concrete

This must be the wrong floor

The ghost relearns how to haunt
The LED fifty-inch TV
Touch-sensor taps
Table lamp that springs to life
At the sound of a clap

Did I die and go to limbo?

The corridors are longer
Than before, potted with
Parsley, rosemary, thyme;
Whatever happened to
Pomegranates, pandan, limes?

How do I find my way home?

A different daughter lives there now.
The wife who stews curry cooks it green.
The neighbour likes his stinky tofu
And another pickles her own kimchi.

Who can I haunt? If not my own people?

The door closes on its own. It is the wind of change.
The toilet flushes on its own. It is the rapids of change.

The swallow comes to roost
Finds its own nook
Between the edges of walls
From north to south
Biting at right angles

When the eggs break
The colony takes over
Pacific blood in the tropics
Spreading its wings
Swooping over the heart of

The home where an old ghost roams.



It’s always in the lift
when our skins nearly touch
but never once;
that static void
is greater an attraction
when we don’t
than if we did.

We eye each other
behind our white jellied worlds
trying to unearth the secrets of
our unmarked spaces
yet to be explored
or sullied by the droves of
flesh we have consumed
through years of not knowing
each other.

I don’t care about the starched
unparked lots of lovers before me;
it is the egg in your eye
that I long to incubate.

So I survive on the tingle,
that almost buzz,
a captured capsule of
a gasp that always escapes me
when my heart thinks
it’s going to collapse;
running on steam
like a geyser sprouting
as a cauliflower of vapors
of volcanic confetti.


Decal Duplex

Her daughter draws flat houses on cardboard –
in her bubble she imagines them
cubed, popped-up by the highlights
of her crayoned will;

they are copies of cartooned homes
from the decals on her walls:
oblongs of vanilla, boxed crosses for windows,
waves of seagreen roofed while
bruised mauve flowers with gold stars
tower above the Christmas chimney.

Years later, ungummed,
the sticker house is peeling off the corner,
its edge is off,
a child’s finger has nudged her way
beneath its surface, unsticking the plastic
that made this picture;

nothing is behind it –
no scaffolding but old paint,
a piece of the wall that
once was used to plaster
a paper-thin home.

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