Flammeus Gladius

Carmina et Verba pro Discipulis Meis

Nonny’s Halloweens

Nonny’s Halloweens

 

 

(in memoriam P.S.R.)

 

 

“Listen to them, the children of the night. What music they make!”

 

 

You liked The Exorcist but not The Omen.
You made with the discriminating taste
even, Mom, when the Devil was the showman.
Fraud was amongst the many facts you faced.
But, if the mask was well and truly placed
before a little face intent on fun,
you passed the candy out. As monsters raced
around the bend, you smiled to see them run.
To your excessively-cerebral son,
you explained Dracula — and got it right.
As literate back then as anyone,
you heard them call, the children of the night.
You really loved your Halloweens: it’s true.
That’s something I inherited from you.

 

 

–Tom Riley

Phantom of the Opera (Short Version)

The Phantom of the Opera (Short Version)

 

 

Deformed Erik wants Christine Daié—
And he spirits her slyly away.
Normal folks interfere—
And his hopes disappear.
An ungrateful young chippy, I say!

 

 

–Tom Riley

Ghost Stories of an Antiquary

Ghost Stories of an Antiquary

 

 

In his scholarly world, M.R. James
unearthed spirits with terrible names
that should never be uttered.
Oxford dons shrank and sputtered.
Tell yourself they were just playing games.

 

 

–Tom Riley

Innsmouth Look

The Innsmouth Look

 

 

A batrachian fellow named Fred
filled his neighbors with loathing and dread.
Their discomfort grew dire.
They expressed righteous ire.
Fred just shrugged. “I’m from Innsmouth,” he said.

 

 

–Tom Riley

Bela Lugosi

Bela Lugosi

 

 

The great vampire king’s previous shape
was revised. Movie fans just went ape.
The Hungarian voice
made girls faint — and rejoice.
He was buried, of course, in his cape.

 

 

–Tom Riley

Doors of Perception

The Doors of Perception

 

 

(for Denise Beshaw)

 

 

Wine indeed may be good for your ticker.
If you’re sick, you may cease to get sicker
when you down your Chablis.
But, to understand me,
readers need to resort to hard liquor.

 

 

–Tom Riley

Army of the Dead

Army of the Dead

 

 

They are coming, the skeletal crew.
When they reach your flesh, what will they do?
They can’t eat you: that’s clear.
They have no stomachs here!
See: the dead know futility, too.

 

 

–Tom Riley

Magister Definitus

Magister Definitus

 

The Master is defined by the effects
That he eschews. His limits free his soul
To march ahead, Imperator et Rex,
And aspire to an unimagined goal
In his imagination. Does the whole
Denounce him as an unimportant part?
Well, let it! He does not accept his role.
He crushes definitions with his art.
The Master doesn’t think that he is smart.
He swallows smartness as a python does
A rat. The workhorse stands behind the cart
Puzzled. Is this the barnyard, folks, that was?
And all who dared to be at liberty
Are bound in chains that never had to be.

 

–Tom Riley

 

 

(First appeared in Blue Unicorn, v. 38, n.1, October 2014)

Bat-Eating Boa

Bat-Eating Boa

 

 

“Let my outer form now be a bat’s!”
said the vampire. “Let pecs, delts, and lats
drive adroit, speedy wings!”
But some snakes snatch such things
from the air. Cried the poor vampire: “Rats!”

 

 

–Tom Riley

Creepy Midnight

Creepy Midnight

 

 

He listened to the talking skull–
then said: “I wish you had a brain!”
His creepy midnight wasn’t dull:
he listened to the talking skull–
and thought the voice was wonderful.
The content only caused him pain.
He listened to the talking skull–
then said: “I wish you had a brain!”

 

 

–Tom Riley

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