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Tapestry of Bronze

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Kudos to the winners of our Fall, 2012, Odes to Olympians contest, honoring the goddess Aphrodite (Venus)!  Ryan Crouch won the contest for adults with his poem, Of Cyprus, while Lisa Burgoa won the under-18 competition with her poem, Vulcan Plucking Petals.

Honorable mentions in the adult category are: Pattie Flint, Liz Hufford, Jen Wang, Neroli Cottam, Dawn McGuire, Angela Fabunan and Jean Chapman Snow.  Honorable mentions for the under-18 category are: Aysha Rehman, Vivek Shah, Emily Allbright, Sean Watkins, Caitlin Rose, Helen Chen, and Michael Forlenza.

Scroll down to read these fine poems celebrating the goddess of love.

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If you like prose:  Why not buy and read our books?  Or give them to friends and loved ones for Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa or even Saturnalia?  Jocasta tells the story of Oedipus but from the point of view of his mother-wife (and has been chosen by some high schools as a companion read to Sophocles – but don’t let that put you off!).  The Niobe trilogy, Children of Tantalus, The Road to Thebes and Arrows of Artemis mixes myth and archaeology to give the story of an ancient mass murder – and is a great read for those who have finished Percy Jackson and want more challenging time with the Greek myths.

The books are available both electronically and in paper …AND YOUR PURCHASE HELPS SUPPORT THESE CONTESTS.

 

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The Tapestry of Bronze is a series of novels set in Bronze Age Greece. 

 

There’s no need to read our books to enter the contests, but if you like mythology, or historical fiction, or simply reading exciting stories, we think you’ll enjoy them!

 

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You may be interested in visiting other parts of our website:

Our Books (in English)

      Jocasta

      Children of Tantalus

      The Road to Thebes

      Arrows of Artemis

      Antigone and Creon

 

βλία στα ελληνκα - Our Books (in Greek)

Odes to Olympians Contest Current:

 

Winners of Past Contests: Zeus  Hera Poseidon Demeter  Hermes Athena Apollo  Artemis Ares Aphrodite Hephaestus

 

 

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Ryan Crouch

First Prize Winner – Adult Category

“Of Cyprus”

She was not always

Of caught breaths and men’s strained eyes

And whistles in the distant wind.

Of "be my lady, be my dear"

Because Cyprus is humble.

Its shores crafted the shell of her back.

The sea foam fused into her dripping hair.

She was simple (in her own eyes).

She was just humming peacefully (to herself)

When gazes encircled and entrapped her.

They knew only of lustful starvation.

But Hephaestus would

Keep

His

Bride,

Would

Keep

Her

Trapped inside desire and regret.

His fire only evaporated her being.

She became tempting steam in the spray,

Nothing to herself but alluring to

Every heavy pulse, crafting every exhalation into

"I love you" even if

She questioned whether

Love was

Alive

At

All.

 

 

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First Prize Winner – Under 18 Category

 

Lisa Burgoa

 

Vulcan Plucking Petals

She loves me-

since she rose,

encumbered by ebbing ocean lace,

swelling the seas

(and swelling heads and hearts ever since).

Invoking in me,

her stooped, crooked boy,

delicate as a house of cards,

the abashed blushes

of a rosy-fingered dawn,

the lecherous yearnings

of a writhing flame.

But she departs

quick as a quiver

on Eros' bow,

intoxicating, beckoning,

stirring hunger of a crouched animal

in some poor, sorry sap before

soaking their bones in a lover's brine.

And for all her philandering,

she recoils from my touch

lest I leave a sooty-fingered print

on her heart

as I tinker, tinker

the key to her padlock.

But it's too late.

The candle's snuffed.

She loves me not.

 

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Honorable Mentions Adult Category

 

Pattie Flint

“Timeless Sex Symbol”

It wasn't Aphrodite's fault she was beautiful;
they blew on the dirty pale sea-foam
that looked like lace handkerchiefs,
as if they were all so many birthday candles, and you,
you stepped out in that tight white dress;
standing over the metal street grate of Mount Olympus.
And the whole world paused and said so softly, "Wow."

But they tried to tame you, to chain you to the anvil
with a marriage yoke because caged birds don't sing,
and they'd rather pluck the rose than admire it from afar.
You reminded them too much of the beautiful things they
couldn't keep. So they blamed you for all their problems.

You distraction, you harlot, you whore, and it made you angry.
but they loved it all the more when your eyebrows furrowed like
two pure lines of snow on a glass coffee table, right before you sang the national anthem. And they cried tears of grief while they smiled,
because the image of you, reclined on that sofa with the asp to your
fair wrist was as beautiful as it was so very, very sad.

If anything is true, heed this old saying: hate is only born out of spurned love, and baby, they hated you.

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Liz Hufford

 

“Aphrodite's Wingman”

Guys always go for Aphrodite,

no matter what they've heard
no matter what they've seen
every night
for eons.
She's the porch light of Olympus.

I'm her wingman
(not that she needs help),
but she does enjoy an audience,
breezing through swarms of men
who spin in her wake.

All get burned.
Some limp away,
bereft of wives, children, reputations.
Still all they can do is talk about her.
Never once do they call her unfaithful, fickle, jealous.
No, they ask what they did wrong.

 

Castration's in her blood.

Each thought he was the one,
every night
for eons.
They cry into their beer and talk to me.

I get the leftovers,
Apre Dite.

 

*

 

Jen Wang


“Patron Goddess of the So-called Shallow Sluts”

 

We mold ourselves after her,

One who rose from the sea

Irresistible to men and gods.

She brings swans

Out of ugly ducklings,

And we, in turn,

With faces that could

Unleash an armada

Arouse war out of love.

(It’s not our fault:

She does enjoy his company.)

Some say our glamour

And multiple consorts

Hide our insecurity,

But we’re proud

Like our goddess

Of our ability to love

(And lust) freely

And our golden proportions

That we work hard to maintain

In a quest for immortality.

You may think it’s all for naught,

But it is her form,

Not one of the Nine,

That inspires artists.

 

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Neroli Cottam

 

APHRODITE SPEAKS

 

I glory in the perfect form,

flawless, curving, youthful tones.

And yet there is beauty in the aged too,

blurred, of harder song and swell,

that reminds me of my birthing home,

of ancient tides and salt, seethed foam.

I delight in trees of leafy green

gowned through spring and summer long,

and yet the trunk that bears the crown

is old and gnarled, half underground.

It harks in me of light and dark,

for of them both, I am a part.

First love, first fruits, nurture and desire,

inspire my gifts, my ardent creeds.

Yet the reasons for deflowering are the seeds.

Life, death, rebirth, unalterable these.

Think of the rose, its faultless bloom,

yet underneath it bides the thorn.

Of such contrasts I belong.

Through wrathful blasts of war

and gentle, pipes of peace,

I court my wares and song.

Exquisite pleasures all I own, requisite portions

for my bed, my food endures, ensnares,

ensures, lithesome lovers, richly fed.

I will champion star-crossed lovers,

sometimes set them impossible endeavours.

I dwell in palaces of virtue and palaces of pleasure,

but the lovely forms of my many daughters

Are the jewels that I treasure.

 

*

Dawn McGuire

 

“Love in the Skilled Nursing Unit”

 

Whacked with a bat in Dolores Park

for his wallet, Ari can't make

new memories.

All day he lives in Then,

except when his wife of three decades

stands in the doorway.

In her dun-colored mu-mu andThrift-Co

shoes with room for her hammertoes,

she is Aphrodite.

He whoops and sighs when he sees her,

pours sweat, then freezes in the geri-chair.

His astonished face

is pale as dune grass. Then

suddenly he’s mute, his tongue

broken by beauty.

That's when I'd give my temporal lobe,

my hippocampus whole,

for his cheap blue gown;

to be in Her presence once again,

by whom we are made, inflamed,

destroyed—

 

to belong to the Goddess, once more

to be raised to aerial ash

again and again.

 

*

 

Angela Fabunan

“Side A, Side B”

Twenty euros to see me. Good money, for being only half-naked,

and mangled. From my nonexistent arms, an absence powerful

enough to draw crowds. I was a living pearl, but never mind

old, perfect beauty. Two stumps and everyone surrounds,

as when cars stop to see the wreckage in grotesque

admiration. One man on his knees, in prayer.

Another kisses my toes—I am a god, after all.

Art students transfigure my body into lines. I am

theirs as much as I am mine. To them,

I am the non-existent past.

 

*

Jean Chapman Snow

 

SATURN-RULED VENUS

The astrologer smiles at my Venus in Capricorn.
A sensual Earth sign, she remarks.
Floating in my mind I see
Botticelli’s new-born
Venus Anadyomene,
ocean splashing about
her bare pink toes,
eyes still dreaming,
virginal skin corseted in–
a brown tweed business suit?
Venus winks, at me.
“Yeah, it scratches, but
I was freezing on this
damn cockle shell.


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Honorable Mentions – Under 18 Category

Aysha Rehman

“Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned,

Nor hell a fury like a goddess scorned”

 

Are you the goddess of love?

If it is you, then you must also reign over that place where lost souls wander—

The domain of loss and heartbreak.

Shedding a tear for Echo as she laments what can never be,

But you still do nothing as Narcissus wastes away by the pond.

Do you do it for want of cruelty? Perhaps.

To love is to subject one to a special kind of agony—

The breathlessness, the falter of the heartbeat, the gentle tremble of the hand.

What a dreadfully powerful curse, to be transfixed by the heady scent of love.

 

You wield it as a weapon—and a marvelous weapon it is, indeed.

Incomparable to the wise woman’s spear or the lady archer’s bow.

As soon as you whisper into the ear of the naïve young man who holds the apple, war is inevitable.

Blood is smeared across the halls of Troy, and it because of you.

You are, after all, the mistress of War itself.

Hades may claim the souls of the dead, but as the soldier lays dying upon the sand,

It is his sweet love who awaits him at home whom he calls for,

And, with his last breath, it is her soul that you claim to wander upon the shores of heartbreak.

 

All is fair in love and war, they say.

Do they not see the woman grieving over her beloved?

Do they not see the father mourning his son?

War may have caused it, but it is the merciless sting of love that wounds the heart.

 

The pain of love lost is revealed as poison coursing through the veins of the ever-mourning,

Suddenly they catch themselves wishing,

Wishing that their love had never existed, so that they would be spared this pain.

This is your harshest blow, your most spiteful joke, to finally reveal to man that it was alwaysa poison,

Always constricting, holding, in willful submission.

A source of counterfeit joy that inevitably leads to loss.

 

You should have quietly bowed out, but the knife had to be twisted within the wound,

You had to lift the veil and have man recognize the nature of his once happy folly.

 

You are the cruelest goddess of all.

*

Vivek Shah

 

Hymns to Aphrodite

From foaming crests, thou swept ashore
To rule our hearts forever-more
Thou cast these hooks in purple night
And snare our minds from what is right
Thou holdeth sway in all the realms
From earthy forests graced with elm
And sprawling cities of mortal men
Inspiring both sword and pen
Thou rule as well the storming seas
With ocean waves like azure trees
Where passion dwells untame and free
Arousing lovers endlessly
And even thence to heaven high
Thou make the stars to sing and sigh
And tempt the nymphs with gentle breeze
And force the gods upon their knees
Ocean eyes and virgin form
With amber locks and presence warm
With supple hips and bosom wide
With tapered waist and tender thighs
Thy strength is born as lust alone
Those free from it are scarcely known
Oh mother of the archer sweet
So few are there who bear his heat
Thou sport with many, free of shame
Yet wedded to that god of flames

Capricious in thy lusty whims
Thou roam about with nimble limbs
We sacrifice to favor thee
Aphrodite, descend to me

*

Emily Albright

Ode to Aphrodite


Born of Titan’s pain,
And so love gives grief.
Born of foam, insubstantial and frail,
And so love can fade away.
Have you no shame? O, Goddess of love,
With fidelity short as your temper,
What gifts do you give
That cause no suffering?
You talk of love, but embody jealousy.
And passion robs men of senses.
O my child, you see so little
Of my powers’ golden hues, and of me.
I, born of Titan’s blood,
And so love runs warmly through the veins.
I, born of foam, light as air,
And so love lightens the heart with gladness.
I give my gifts to all, a blessing for the world,
For who is so undeserving that they will not be offered love?
You talk of my shame, and it is true.
Love steals away logic, but gives joy in return.
This is my gift to you, and to your kind.
My power can bring chaos, true,
But without love, all is dark.
For how else could we temper hate?

 

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Sean Watkins

Swan

The sun glowed white

Like the foam of the sea

Reflecting off the opaque blue water

 

A swan settled on the water

Its crystal eye looked as if

It were crafted by Hephaestus

 

Its ivory feathers,

Ruffled by the rolling wind,

Glowed in the bright light

 

Its beauty,

Natures bribe to Paris,

Was unmatched

 

Its loving embrace,

The warm radiance of the swan

Against the obscure water

 

She,

In all her beauty,

Spread her wings

 

*

 

Caitlin Rose

“She Is Love”

 

love is kind

 

she with the angel's face

glitter trailing in her wake

the dove sings as she walks by

gentle Aphrodite, for love she sighs

 

born from the ocean's foam

gifted to the lord of the forge

the not-so-secret trysts with war

with the ecstasy of love she soars

 

love is cruel

 

her winged son flies with fateful arrows

both gods and mortals taste love's terrors

to the goddess's whims are we subjected

to bask in perfection or suffer in rejection

 

she was fairest to Paris, a promise was made

thus Helen was torn from her husband

Cupid and Psyche flew on love's wings

but sweet Aphrodite got her revenge

 

love is kind

love is cruel

 

so is she

 

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Belle Kinder

“The Miracle of Birth”

She spit out the sea foam and salty froth,

Carelessly wiping her red lips with the back of her

Pale, soft hand,

And hauled herself out of the ocean,

Her muscles groaning.

“They will romanticize this…”

She thought to herself.

Flopping down onto the shore,

Her limbs squelching,

Oiled by oceanic backwash.

She picked up a scallop shell,

Breathing hard and blinking salt from her

Wide, clear eyes,

And crushed it between her

Long, lithe fingers.

She rose, her body trembling.

Joints cracked.

And all across the Earth,

A terrible force was unleashed

 

*

 

Helen Chen

“The guilt of Aphrodite”

You appear, ethereal, your shimmering robe flowing behind you

Descending from the golden dawn

Eyeing the remains of our city

Once magnificent, now enveloped in a flame

A look of remorse unfolding across your flawless face

The burning city of Troy below you

The Glorious Olympus above

Tears fall free

Memories rush back

Of war, of love, of grief

Of Troy

The widows of Troy

Do they not cry out to you tonight?

Pining away, their husbands’memories still fresh

Wounds that cut deep into their hearts

Do you not feel regret?

Do you not feel any pain?

The humans are playthings, so unimportant

You are untouchable, but touched by sorrow and loss

“Forgive me” you whisper softly

Your voice a distant bell

But it is too late, the past cannot be changed

Who knew that as the Goddess of love

You killed love, too

 

*

 

Michael Forlenza

 

“Aphrodite Amaranthine”

 

Daughter of Sky, who stands elegant,

Borne of Sea, who foams persistent,

Is Aphrodite

 

Zephyr in the sky

And Tide in the sea

(The wind an ode to thee,

Aphrodite)

 

She hasn’t the need to fear

The hammer of

Hephaestus

Nor the spear of

Ares

Nor the arrow of

Eros

For She is the sky above, limiting,

And the ground below, urging,

The foolish lover

Over

She is the Object and Muse of

the poets plenty

She is the Strings,

Who tug and tug and drive man

Mad


Forever enticing

This entity eternal

Yet merciless is the pulchritude

For when there is love

Strife must surely follow

 

And all the men virile

Turn to naught but feral

When beholden

With Perfection

with Beauty, Love,

She,

Aphrodite

 

 

 

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Visit the winning poems of other Odes to Olympians contests!

Winning Odes to Zeus

Winning Odes to Hera

Winning Odes to Poseidon

Winning Odes to Demeter

Winning Odes to Hermes

Winning Odes to Athena

Winning Odes to Apollo

Winning Odes to Artemis

Winning Odes to Ares

Winning Odes to Aphrodite

Winning Odes to Hephaestus

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Concerned that you don't know enough about the Olympians to write poems about them? You can explore these websites:

Parada's Greek Mythology Link: A tremendously detailed resource

Theoi Greek Mythology: Exploring Classical mythology in Literature and Art

Timeless Myths: Greek myths and others as well

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Several have wondered: who are we and why do we do this?  What exactly is this “Tapestry of Bronze?”

First, our names are Victoria Grossack & Alice Underwood.  We sponsor this contest because we want to encourage excellence and creativity.  We’re using the same method used by the Greeks back in Classical Athens: competition.  Instead of olive wreaths, we offer money and certificates for prizes.  We especially want to encourage the under-18 because we want to support educators and students in our own small way.  The idea occurred to us – most appropriately! – when we were visiting the ruins of ancient Olympia in Greece.

Second, the Tapestry of Bronze is a series of interlocking novels.  They are set in the Bronze Age of Greece – several generations before the Trojan War.  This was known to many as the “Golden Age of Heroes,” but to us they seem to be made of bronze and not gold.  Our series is a tapestry, because the books tie together, but one book may focus on one character while another focuses on another.  Each book can be enjoyed separately, or the books can be enjoyed together.  As we state above, it is NOT necessary to purchase or to read our novels in order to enter the contests.  However, purchasing the novels helps to support these contests.

Not sure if you’ll like the books?  Then electronically download a sample at Amazon.  Clicking on the covers below will take you to that company’s website.

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Return to Home for Tapestry of Bronze

Do you wish to contact us?  Write to us at “tapestryofbronze” at “yahoo.com”

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Pronunciation Guide

 

Maps (Thebes, Pisa/Olympia, Eastern Mediterranean)

 

The Stories Behind the Stories

 

Acknowledgements, Thanks, Bibliography and Links

 

About the Authors

 

The Highbury Murders

 

Victoria's Writing Classes

 

 

Buying our books helps support this and future contests!

 

Newly released:

 

 

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A real page-turner . . . a wonderfully nuanced novel that repays previous knowledge of its subject matter - but never requires it -- Historical Fiction Review

 

An absorbing, quasi-historical portrait of ancient Greece ... well-balanced update that maintains the original's mythic suspense. -- Kirkus, May 2005


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A world...as compelling as Tolkien's but more rooted in actual history...in the spirit of Graves's I, Claudius.
--
Bob Mielke, Professor of English, Truman State University, The Copperfield Review

 

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The most amazing part of the series is how the authors retell the myths in such a way as to work for modern audiences.... definitely worth reading by fans of fiction and Greek mythology. --NS Gill, About.com, Ancient History

 

 

Very strongly recommended. 

- Steve Donoghue, Historical Novels Review Online