Kate Noakes


I am wearing layers and do not shiver

Thin light. You expect me to kneel down
and put my head on the block.

Legend: Anne Boleyn was given the mercy
of a sharp sword, and skill, a swift blow.

A trial where the witch is not allowed to speak.
Something mediaeval in your methods.

The outcome foregone. A show for your conscience
where history’s rewritten in a hurry. A conclusion.

Legend: It took two goes to sever Mary, Queen
of Scot’s head from her neck. Chop. Chop.

A trump of lies. A packed-up charge sheet.
The impossibility of proving the positive.

The possibility of disproving the negative.
Science has it so.

Legend: Marie-Antoinette apologized
for treading on her executioner’s toe.

You were given plenty of rope, but
didn’t treat me like a queen.

The failed hangman keeps the boots.
Be ready with the polish.




Kate Noakes‘ fifth collection is Tattoo on Crow Street (Parthian, 2015). Her website (boomslangpoetry.blogspot.com) is archived by the National Library of Wales. She was elected to the Welsh Academy in 2011. She lives between Paris and London.

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