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2 poems by Kate Noakes

In the summer of paying attention

the dunes came alive with blooms.

I needed a flora to name them all

and there was no signal to run the app.

See the steely blue of sea holly

in their hundreds, the pink of campion,

clover and native geranium,

and the custard of bird’s foot trefoil

as we tramp to the five-mile beach.

It’s over twenty minutes from the car park,

so bar a few shapes far down the sand,

we are alone and dancing in the waves.


Tea in a village garden, high over fields

and woods inundated by the sea,

deliberately, its defences not rebuilt.

Pine trees stand on, though dead.

Sheep graze still in the now salt marsh.

We spend the hour tracking a buzzard

as it glides the thermals, and gasp

when it’s mobbed by crows.

Breaking our view, a woman holds

her phone next to a honeysuckle.

I tell her its name before the app.

Clean air acts


With a block of green Palmolive

my mother scrubs the collars

and cuffs of the starched white shirts

my father wears to meetings

in unnamed buildings on Aldwych.

They are black with soot and smoke

from train and tube, street and room.

Her work loosens the dirt

for the washing machine to sud away.

She tuts, and tells me again

how filthy London is.


Our wood-burning stove is now,

officially, a nuisance.

Wet wood and coal are banned

in the city as the middle classes

are to blame for the soot and smoke

that make up those tiny pollutants.

There are machines to scrub the air clean,

even in this filthy city.


Kate Noakes is a PhD student at the University of Reading researching

contemporary British and American poetry. Her most recent collection is The

Filthy Quiet (Parthian, 2019). Goldhawk Road is forthcoming from Two Rivers

Press in 2023. She lives and writes in London.


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