The Wrapped Hedges, by Emma Lee

It looks as if a fog has whirled around the hedges,
wrapping them in a swirl of candy floss like a fleece
protecting them from frost. The implication is the hedges
will be unwrapped to show a healthy growth, firm stems,
perfectly green leaves, branches stretched in welcome.
The covering takes on the texture of a regular weave,
as if a team of spiders had worked solidly for months,
but the structure is too crude to be natural, too regular
to constructed by anything but a programmed machine.
It reflects a grid of lines running from left to right
with rectangular holes. If laid flat, it would represent
a map of a housing estate, plans made by those seeking
to enrich themselves on the grounds councils cannot
demonstrate they have an adequate housing supply,
that somehow executive, four bedroom homes,
beyond the pockets of those on waiting lists, will meet
and that it’s fine to build in the country out of reach
of public transport and amenities but it’s just these
birds who will prevent building during the nesting
season that are the problem. So man-made webs
are their suggested solution; mimic nature to prevent it.


Emma Lee’s recent collection is “Ghosts in the Desert” (IDP, UK 2015). “The Significance of a Dress” is forthcoming from Arachne (UK). She co-edited “Over Land, Over Sea,” (Five Leaves, UK, 2015), reviews for The Blue Nib, High Window Journal, The Journal, London Grip, Sabotage Reviews and blogs at


Undercover Colours by Emma Lee

(brand of nail polish in development)


Does it come in black:

this polish that changes colour

if I dip it into a drink

and a date-rape drug is present?


Surely a hangover

is the only punishment

for being drunk?


Will it match my jeans

as I wait for the band

having figured out the exits,

a place away from

the risk of being groped?


If one in three rapes

happen when the victim

is drunk, two in three

happen when the victim’s sober.

Being drunk would seem

more of a protection.


What if that quiet man,

sober, watching the audience

instead of the band, might?


I’ll dip a fingernail

in my Coke. What if

the light’s too dim

for me to figure out

if the colour’s changed?


What if he uses a drug

it doesn’t detect?

Have the staff signed up

to Ask for Angela?

How can I review the band

if I leave before the set starts?


Will it still be my fault?


‘Ask for Angela’ – a scheme whereby a customer in a bar can signal to staff to allow the customer to discreetly leave without alerting the person they were with


The Bronze Cricketer Speaks by Emma Lee

Over seventeen years my patina’s darkened

but my mood’s lightened. I celebrate

County Championships won twice

but that’s the day job, why I was created:

to inspire future sporting success.

I screen out the Clock Tower

speakers and singers, watch people

shop, chat, take the weight off their feet,

kiss, greet or scurry off for coffee,

a fusion of fashions and languages.

I was a witness when Britain First,

were seen off, not once, but twice.

While the government talks

of securing borders, sending Navy

gunships to the Mediterranean,

people wrap those fleeing war

in emergency blankets: a gold welcome.

I wear one tonight on Refugee Week.

I would wear it more than twice.


Sporting Success – bronze statue by Martin Williams depicts a cricketer, footballer and rugby player to celebrate Leicester clubs winning the Coca Cola Cup (1996/7), Pilkington Cup (1996/7) and Britannic Assurance County Champions 1996 & 1998. On 18 June 2016 the cricketer was dressed in a gold foil emergency blanket during events to mark the beginning of Refugee Week.