Thursday, May 24, 2018


He would have been celebrating his birthday

How do you choose a bouquet
of flowers for a seventeen-year-old boy?

I close the bookmarks of guitars.
I was never sure which was his
favourite, was going to ask him
to suggest a top five and I'd pick
one so it would still be a surprise.

How many seventeen-year-old boys
dream of a bouquet for their birthday?

It's a day you don't think about
until something makes it extraordinary
and suddenly you remember
breakfast, your journey to work,
that unexpected phone call.

A bouquet it has to be. I'll create my own.
The standard ones are all white and blank.

One Texan yellow rose for truth.
White lillies for life that stretched toward
but never reached adulthood.
I thought red roses but they look too much
like drops of blood, splatter from bullets.

I wrap it with thoughts and prayers
as another boy, shot at school, is laid to rest.

--Emma Lee

Emma Lee's most recent collection is "Ghosts in the Desert" (IDP, 2015), she co-edited "Over Land, Over Sea: poems for those seeking refuge" (Five Leaves, 2015), reviews for The High Window Journal, The Journal, London Grip and Sabotage Reviews and blogs at

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