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Hermes

As always, judging poetry is a difficult task. This contest was especially challenging for several reasons.  First, we received hundreds of poems, from all around the world.  Second, many of them were very, very good, so that making a choice was really hard.

Nevertheless, we have made our decisions.  The first prize in the Adult Category is “Hermes,” a poem by David Mohan of Dublin, Ireland.  The first prize winner in the Under-18 category is “The Lyre,” a poem by Alyson Kissner.

We also wish to honor the honorable mentions. In the Adult Category: Mary Hodges, Debra Crane and Polly Atkin and Susan Peters.  In the Under-18 Category: Catherine Flusche (the rooster, by the way, is an emblem of Hermes), Laura Rosenwald, Olivia LaFond and William McMahon.

Please scroll down and read the fine poems of the winners and the honorable mentions.  And please come back for future contests!

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

 

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David Mohan

First Prize Winner Adult Category

“Hermes”

 

In between cities, on the run from

border police, we met a stranger,

his cloak so white it seemed

it had been washed in cloud.

 

He took the road with us for a time,

talking a little of the storms and floods,

the riots in broken towns,

the guards placed on every port.

 

It was a time of darkness

he said, of armies bleeding

over maps like spilt ink,

a time to walk the roads

 

looking for better skies.

He was a sort of freelance envoy

he said, took letters across the continent,

as quick as thought itself.

 

A treaty was something

he made in his sleep;

a bargain in the market,

a stolen purse, a broken heart,

 

all of these, he said,

he could manage,

as easily as blinking.

He smiled at that and said

 

Go well on your way.

Stay off the main roads.

Take the paths through mountains,

he said, paths no army knows about.

 

Goat paths for hard times,

he said, where only gods and madmen go.

Alyson Kissner

First Prize Winner Under-18 Category

“The Lyre”

 

I dreamt of you that night,
Creeping to my side:
All dust, all gold, all man, and more—
Fire
In your eyes,
Dirtied feet soiling the thinness of my bed sheets
With the little pieces of Hades I was soon to know.

A rooster crowed as you spoke, though I knew it was far from morning,
So far from morning...
As you whispered:
“Come.” Little wings flapped impatiently on your head, daring your father for wind.
There was a lyre in your throat,
So tragic, so beautiful, and I was Cerberus,
Helpless and slobbering at his feet as he tore the shackles of my skin loose,
Falling off me like a robe. I was exposed to him and his wicked splendour,
The litheness of your arrowed-frame, the skill of your tongue,

But you did not touch me.

You smiled. And I had no choice but to follow.

“But where are we going?” I asked as we raced through grey flowers, you flying, as I sacrificed the balls of my feet in hopes of a safe journey—
One perhaps I had made countless times before,
Carrying pregnant sacks of saffron over my head.
My palms forever yellow
Like sunlight.

“Home,” you said. And your laughter brought down the rain in a conflagration, swallowing my body whole in its deep, dark humidity.
I became drunk off it, laced with ambrosia, as you stole my sensibility.
And I became eternal.

 

But perhaps the lyre I had heard was not the instrument,

Only the words.

Mary Hodges

Honorable Mention Adult

“A Politician addresses Hermes”

 

You there, young fellow with the feathery feet,

Oh, they’re winged sandals to help you to fly?

Oh my!

You say you’re the messenger of the gods

Spin doctor to the Olympians.

You’re very persuasive,

Can get your listeners to believe what you say,

Using words to charm and betray.

A past master of craft and cunning,

Conning your way through life

You are just the man - or demi-god - I need.

I’ve a proposition to put to you:

A request,

A task for you to do

Call it a quest if you like.

Come and be my Election Agent,

Run my campaign.

And get me re-elected.

I know you can do it.

And the remuneration is good, I give you my word.

“But what,” asks Hermes, “is the word of a politician worth?”

 

Debra Crane

Honorable Mention Adult

“The Psychopomp

 

Tendrils of smoke

Rose into the moonlit sky

Like wisps of grey hair

And I thought, instantly,

of the gorgon, Medusa.

But, in the end, it was another.

 

The messenger god,

Hermes,

Appeared before me,

White and clean, with a youthful face.

 

Suddenly, I had a strange

And undeniable urge

to smell him,

Like a newborn baby.

But it was I who was vulnerable,

Lost.

 

It was I

Who needed guidance,

And protection.

And I knew he had come

To escort me.

 

For an instant,

I thought I saw

A look of pity

Flash across his face,

And I knew I was not the first

Unwilling traveller.

 

Polly Atkin

Honorable Mention Adult

Hermes Enodios - Hermes of the road

 

Already you are scheming for the road, the road.

You have barely stopped moving; never quite stop

long enough for your words to catch up.

 

They are motes in a dust-cloud of ghosts in your wake,

or are flung ahead, fluttering overtures,

singing not theirs but your own lucky song,

 

so when you come we already love you,

have dreamt your dreams for moons in moons,

have rebuilt our homes around you.

 

You raise your arm as if to speak

or signal the direction you mean to take.

All rise to follow. You are the gate

 

between here and anywhere. All must pass through

and only you know how to get where we’re going.

You will take our best herds and best hearts when you go.

 

This morning, a fresh fall of feathers in the yard.

This evening, a swinging door, slamming.

 

 

Susan W. Peters

Honorable Mention Adult
“Mercury”

 

He is elusive, this one,

sliding into your bed

with quicksilver kisses,

messages dropped in your ear

as you tumble, sweat-slick,

over the brink,

falling and

falling forever.

 

You reach for him,

fingers brush his ankle

as he rises.

A single feather drops

as he slips away.

 

Catherine Flusche

Honorable Mention Under-18

“The Rooster’s Call”


The Rooster comes a-calling
quick to arrive at the scene.
The first to meet me
after the sudden ordeal.

I could have laughed at the irony,
if I wasn't so stunned
by the flashing lights around me;
the Rooster just gazed on with patience,
waiting for me to follow
to the place I would now call home.

The journey was practically uneventful,
almost like a trip to the store.
The only difference being
that the distance was so much more.

We arrived after what could have been minutes
or just as easily 10 eons.
Traveling always in silence,
wondering if I could have done something differently.
Wondering if I could have planned better.

My arrival was without ceremony,
as I quietly took my place.
And I watched my companion turn away,
to bring the next in line.

Laura Rosenwald

Honorable Mention Under-18

 

Slick smile,

a child's mischievous grin,

as a distraction of love intervenes.

Quick his feet,

nimble his steps,

as the cattle follow eagerly.

 

Sudden anger. Alive to stone.

Broken promise.

Cattle are gone.

Gone.

                 Gone.

                               Gone.

 

An eye twinkles,

fingers dance,

he knows that he is invincible.

Quick, child of Zeus.

Back to your cradle, nevertheless.

For Apollo knocks on your door,

Demanding his cattle to be returned.

Olivia LaFond

Honorable Mention Under-18
“Thieves and Travelers”


I walk through darkened streets at night,

Glancing left, glancing right.

This city is a den of thieves,

And I am a traveler alone.

I live among a jungle grown

Too large for its confining concrete.

In the alley, a man receives

The narcotics which breed

His desperate and thirsty need.

I hear the patter of feet.

Where am I safe? Help me Hermes!

Protecting god of every voyager,

Forget this once your love for thieves,

Grant to me safe passage through

These seeming streets all fraught with danger.

Let me not fall prey to strangers

Watching from a shady corner;

Let them take their thieving elsewhere.

To your protectorate be true.

Plunging ahead I see

A friendly house; behind me,

A benevolent presence in the air

Assures me that Mercury was there.

And I am safe inside.

William McMahon

Honorable Mention Under 18
“rock in space, god in sky”

Oh Mercury, speed ‘cross the sky,
(Oh Hermes, god of all who lie)

Fastest planet around ol’ Sol,
(Bears in tongue, Zeus’s call)

So close to Sun, scorched by fire,
(By theft of cattle, drew Apollo’s ire)

Cross the Heavens, higher, higher,
(Won Apollo with craft of lyre)

A Mariner reached out to space,
(A deity of all who race)

A massive rock flies through the night,
(This god of Greeks is swift in flight)

Sun up, Sun down: too hot, too cold,
(In his hand, a staff of gold)

Dead land of craters, barren holes,
(Psychopomp, guide their souls)

An orb of rock, grand in scope,
(Hodios, the traveler’s hope)

Seen at dusk, seen at dawn,
(Seen quickly, then is gone).

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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 Athena

Winning Odes to Apollo

Winning Odes to Artemis

Winning Odes to Ares

Winning Odes to Aphrodite

Winning Odes to Hephaestus

Go here to visit the most current contest.

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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.  Still, we think that most of you will like them – and we’d appreciate the support.  Click on the covers below to visit their pages at Amazon – and if you like to read your books electronically, you can start reading today. 

  

    

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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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 & 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

 

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

 

You do not need to read/buy our books to enter the contest – still, we think most of you will enjoy reading them!  To visit these titles at Amazon, click on the thumbnails below.  Your purchase will help support the contest – and if you’re not sure, then download the first chapter and take a look!

 

 

 

“A wonderfully nuanced novel”

 

“Five quills”

 

 

“Very strongly recommended”

 

 

“A crackling good read”

 

Newly released

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“A wonderfully nuanced novel”

 

“Five quills”

 

 

“Very strongly recommended”

 

 

“A crackling good read”

 

Newly released

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“A wonderfully nuanced novel”

 

“Five quills”

 

 

“Very strongly recommended”

 

 

“A crackling good read”

 

Newly released

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“A wonderfully nuanced novel”

 

“Five quills”

 

 

“Very strongly recommended”

 

 

“A crackling good read”

 

 

 

Newly released