Flammeus Gladius

Carmina et Verba pro Discipulis Meis

Absolution

Absolution

 

 

(for Mrs. Margaret Gusky)

 

 

You come to me as penitent to priest–
but my church is the Church of Righteous Wrath,
its liturgy the verses of a beast
who’s mastered rhyme and pentametric math.
Naturally, you feel guilty on the path
I’ve pioneered, where lofty judgment spits
a whole destructive and digestive bath
on charity-professing hypocrites.
But don’t apologize for having wits.
The Lord does not demand of me or you
reduction of our brains to little bits
of matter that can only ah and ooh.
In liking stuff like mine, you’re not disgraced.
Rather, you demonstrate exquisite taste.

 

 

–Tom Riley

Feeling Good

Feeling Good

 

 

“Be the man that you should be, my lad!
Do not show us the face of a cad
and a bounder to boot!
Our concern is acute….”
“But it feels so damn good to be bad!”

 

 

–Tom Riley

Big Plans

Big Plans

 

 

We’ll train and arm the rebels we can trust–
but will we let them keep their health care plans?
Ah, what a strategy! As we’ve discussed,
we’ll train and arm the rebels. (We can trust
the moderates.) We’ll thus reduce to dust
the ISIS force that currently expands.
We’ll train and arm the rebels we can trust–
but will we let them keep their health care plans?

 

 

–Tom Riley

Twerps

Twerps

 

 

The namby-pamby twerps of false religion
Imagine that their faith is like my own.
Is there indeed a likeness? Not a smidgen!
Their faith is made of cold tea, mine of stone.
My faith bestows acute life to the bone
And activates the sinews through and through.
My eyes burn with a truth intensely known.
Theirs blink aside as those of cowards do.
They utter truths but mix in falsehoods, too.
They only seek the soothing of their cells.
But souls aren’t made of cells. Oh, get a clue—
Or dwell in endless microscopic hells!
I am not amity’s soft-cooing pigeon.
You and I do not share the same religion.

 

 

–Tom Riley

 

 

(First appeared in Trinacria, Number 11, Spring 2014.)

Liar’s Prayer

The Liar’s Prayer

 

 

O Dear Father, expose not the lie
that I told when my spirit was sly!
Now my spirit’s sincere
and holds simple truth dear.
The dead past can no longer apply.

 

 

–Tom Riley

Peacemaker

Peacemaker

 

 

“Benedictus Dominus Deus meus, qui docet manus meas ad proelium, et digitos meos ad bellum.”

 

“I’m a peacemaker, Lord, to my core:
let me earn a high blessedness score
in accord with your preaching!”
“You’ve mistaken my teaching–
and made peace where there should have been war!”

 

 

–Tom Riley

Rescued

Rescued

 

 

“I shall rescue you, sir, from your fate.
Believe me, it is never too late
to escape and be free
of compulsion!” “Dear me:
it’s this vile interference I hate!”

 

 

–Tom Riley

Sage of a Lad

A Sage of a Lad

 

 

He was wise — a real sage of a lad.
What keen moral perceptions he had!
What a well-cultured mind!
How well read! How refined!
“I think evil,” he once said, “is bad.”

 

 

–Tom Riley

Impossible

Impossible

 

 

“I shall dream the impossible dream!”
“Cut the show biz!” God said. “Too extreme.
Though the mind of man doubt
and dash madly about,
many hard things are just what they seem.”

 

 

–Tom Riley

Attentive Audience

Attentive Audience

 

 

We are assembled here to hear you run
your big fat mouth upon some holy scam
that you’re endorsing. Once your talk is done,
we’ll hide the fact that we don’t give a damn
and pretend that we took your klutzy sham
for brilliant truth. We’ll hail you as a wise
and thrice-judicious leader, not a ham
whose narcissism shows in his vile eyes.
Why do we tell ourselves these foolish lies?
Your lack of wisdom is so evident
that only boneheads find it a surprise.
And yet to flatter you we are content.
We let your witless, heartless ego swell.
I guess we want to hurry you to Hell.

 

 

–Tom Riley

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