Flammeus Gladius

Carmina et Verba pro Discipulis Meis

Burning

The Burning

 

 

“What? Can the devil speak true?”

 

 

We burnt the witch — but, oh, on fire she laughed!
She cursed the prelate and the magistrate.
She cursed the bowman’s steady arm, the shaft,
and the dark mark with which force meant to mate.
She cursed both offered love and steady hate.
She cursed the words we read her from the Book.
She failed, we all thought, to appreciate
the wise concern with which we watched her cook.
She cursed us with her voice and with her look.
She sucked in smoke and never stopped to choke.
In her ordeal, she sure had what it took.
Before her bones collapsed, she cracked a joke.
Now that she’s ashes, we stand and reflect
that every curse is bound to take effect.

 

 

–Tom Riley

Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe

 

 

Every story he wrote was a whole
fricking genre, produced from a soul
at which soulless types sneered.
It was genius they feared.
Once they’d killed him, they cheerfully stole.

 

 

–Tom Riley

Ligeia (Short Version)

Ligeia (Short Version)

 

 

Guy remarries. His poor second mate
is oppressed by a horrible fate.
The truth must be confessed:
the girl ends up — possessed!
Now Ligeia is back! Ain’t that great?

 

 

–Tom Riley

Night of the Living Dead

Night of the Living Dead

 

 

When the dead rise, they don’t simply stroll
through a garden: predation’s their goal–
and you, girl, are the prey!
But don’t worry: come day,
we will have them all under control….

 

 

 

–Tom Riley

Haunted Houses

Haunted Houses

 

 

They’re all haunted. As memories find
rooms to squat in, old spirits unwind
into terrible space:
they get right in your face.
Doesn’t help that it’s all in your mind.

 

 

–Tom Riley

Shadow of Her Smile

The Shadow of Her Smile

 

 

He said he loved the shadow of her smile–
not noticing she cast no shade at all.
Proud of his cute, infatuated style,
he said he loved the shadow of her smile.
Her enigmatic eyes stayed all the while
on his smooth-shaven throat. Held to the wall,
he said he loved the shadow of her smile–
not noticing she cast no shade at all.

 

 

–Tom Riley

Feminist Poetess

The Feminist Poetess

 

 

Free from all patriarchal distortion,
she finds peace in old age is her portion–
although fierce was her style.
It is easy to smile
as she thinks of her sweetest abortion.

 

 

–Tom Riley

Ghosts

Ghosts

 

 

Ghosts that dissipate under the sun
are innocuous ghosts — even fun.
None by them are accursed.
No: the ghost that haunts worst
is the ghost of the deed left undone.

 

 

–Tom Riley

William Wilson (Short Version)

William Wilson (Short Version)

 

 

We are pleased with the self that we see
in the mirror: no common self he!
No! As we tell the story,
that self’s shining with glory.
We’re undone by the self that we flee.

 

 

–Tom Riley

Cask of Amontillado (Short Version)

The Cask of Amontillado (Short Version)

 

 

He insulted me. Who can say why?
Drunk on wine, he was stupid, not sly.
I pronounced final doom–
and he got his own room,
Fortunato, that fortunate guy!

 

 

–Tom Riley

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