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Published February 19, 2017
Wax Poetry and Art: "Tanis" by Nick Cooke (First Place)
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by Nick Cooke


And the river silted up, died:
just another column inch to the world,
tomorrow’s hieroglyphic fish wrapper;
but for us denizens of Pi-Ramesses

the end, the cursed end of all
we could ever have or hope for –
all that flows through our veins
borne on that current, traversing

the keels of smuggle-boats,
the nostrils of crocodiles,
and every last crate from
our markets and workshops  

sunk in the ditch, might as well
be buried there beside our dreams.
So must we pack our rusted chariots
in quest of other land, other water.


But wait. Someone cracked a joke,
gallows-style, that may just hold
a sliver of crazed potential
to gouge us a new trail.

What if we – but stay a moment –
in lieu of fleeing our home
carried it hence piece by piece,
arch by still noble arch?

If we can drag one rock we can
drag a million, with a million men,
or a thousand returning
a thousand-fold, by cart and horse,

ox and mule – only imagine the bond
and spirit of community we’d build,
so once encamped on new foundations
we’d thrive like never before. Pulling

together indeed, albeit
with ripped shoulders, aching calves,
and ghosts of lamented wayside fallers
howling anew each dawn.


The Pharoah has got wind. And to Him
this is no joke, no empty surmise.
What are slaves for if not to be
gainfully enslaved and kept

on their mettle at all times,
and what better test of their value
than an impossible task only they
can make possible, thereby

proving their worth beyond debate?
Let them earn the respect they crave,
he enjoins. And so bring forth –
– or where needed, design –

ropes, pulleys, massive flatbed carts,
each with a hundred wheels, where our
sacred obelisks may be gently laid.
Release without pause for doubting breath

the horses from their fabled pissoirs,
the Israelites from kitchen and yard.
Sound bugles, hoist banners, summon
the sceptics to temple and unleash

dragonfire sermons that would
drive mighty Isis herself to hoist
the Great Sphinx of Giza
on her own shoulder

and haul it thigh-deep
through mud pitiless as quicksand
and the brake-screech of the vulture
a hundred miles upstream.

Nick Cooke has had poems published in Sentinel Literary Quarterly, Dream
Catcher magazine and the anthology
Poems for a Liminal Age, as well as
the Agenda journal online supplement and websites such as Poetry Space, I
am not a silent poet, The Curly Mind and Nutshells & Nuggets. His poem
‘Process’ was Highly Commended in the Segora Poetry Competition (July
2015). He has had four poems accepted for
To Kingdom Come, an
anthology to be published in early 2016 on the theme of political killing. He is
currently working on his first collection.
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Wax Poetry and Art Contests
Poetry Contest #13
Socially Engaged Poetry Contest #2
Calgary Poetry Contest #1
Poem of the Year
Wax Poetry and Art Poetry Contest
Reigning Champion
Nick Cooke
London, England
Wax Poetry and Art. http://waxpoetryart.com

Poetry Contest #11: First Place
& Top UK Poet


by Nick Cooke
(London, England)
Wax Poetry and Art
Poetry Contest #11 Results
1. Tanis
2. The Wake
3. Atrocious War
4. Old World Sand Boa
5. Dyspraxia
6. Sanctuary
7. The Eight
8. Glacier d’Argentière
9. Reviving Lives
10. Ketu
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