Flammeus Gladius

Carmina et Verba pro Discipulis Meis

Aphobic

Aphobic

 

 

Am I phobic? Well, phobia’s fear—
And I’m simply not trembling, my dear.
Level gaze and dry palm:
I’m tremendously calm.
But I do wish that you’d disappear.

 

 

–Tom Riley

Petty

Petty

 

 

Petty revenge: oh, what an easy thrill!
You can’t expect renunciation there
Of such as me. Spittle, not blood, will spill
When I enact my scheme. “No fair! No fair!”
The mark will sputter. I’ll decline to care—
Except that, in my heart, I’ll crow: “Oh, yes!”
To such slight depths, quite plausibly, I dare
Descend. I celebrate as I confess.
Conscience objects, of course, but nonetheless
I move ahead, enchanted with the mission
I have assigned myself: the neatest mess
Ever conceived! High pride is superstition
And lofty thought an empty ampersand.
God help you if my petty mind grows grand!

 

 

–Tom Riley

 

Recount

Recount

 

 

Lest electors commit boundless sins
And conservatives sport hateful grins,
Lest the folk we despise
Gain an undeserved prize,
Count again – till the Democrat wins.

 

 

–Tom Riley

Communion Line

Communion Line

 

 

(for Julie Brumley)

 

 

As James Joyce put it, here comes everybody:
The tall and short; the hideous and cute;
The thin and fat; the shiny and the muddy;
The shoulders wide; the supersized patoot;
Those whose views I could easily refute
And those I’d back with logic all my own.
That blonde’s hair is a dull black at the root.
That old guy’s grin to me is cause to groan.
These adjectives should not of course be known,
At such a time, to anyone like me.
I should be praying – on my telephone
To Christ, who urges me toward charity.
The joy in watching, though, is far from small—
And I the most ridiculous of all.

 

 

–Tom Riley

 

 

(First appeared in Trinacria #15, Spring 2016.)

Golden Realm Unearned

Golden Realm Unearned

 

 

(for Bailey Sciambra)

 

 

Och! Was it Bailey Sciambra that I saw?
It was! It was! The world was overturned.
Its dull ruled surface shone with joy and awe.
At its core was a primal state discerned,
Brilliant and pre-lapsarian. I learned
That weighty fog and clouds of endless gray
Can part to show a golden realm unearned,
And long years yield to one unending day.
Och! Was it Bailey Sciambra? So I say.
Italian painters of the Renaissance
Never knew such a glorious display.
The wine of life sprang up from marble fonts.
My startled soul could only say amen.
(This happens to me every now and then.)

 

 

Love,

T.R.

Thanksgiving Day, 2016

Cry, Cry, Cry

Cry, Cry, Cry

 

 

The election results make them cry.
I see hot tears in many an eye,
And I hear hopeless wails!
Such a scene never fails!
I can tell you: I’m one happy guy.

 

 

–Tom Riley

Long-Winded

Long-Winded

 

 

Your long-windedness, Reverend, is showing.
My review at commencement was glowing.
You were banishing Hell.
Oh, you spoke really well!
Then you made your mistake: you kept going!

 

 

–Tom Riley

Becoming

The Becoming

 

 

Considering your gluttonous excesses,
Oh, what a preacher man you’ve come to be!
Does sin grow prouder after it confesses?
Considering your gluttonous excesses,
Then how you’ve ended up, a thousand yesses
Could never be too many. Thoughtfully
Considering your gluttonous excesses,
Oh, what a preacher man you’ve come to be!

 

 

–Tom Riley

Consultation

Consultation

 

 

“Is it hay fever, Doc, or a cold?
Can the true diagnosis be told?
Do my tortured joints swell?
Does my body rebel?
Why on earth do I have to get old?”

 

 

–Tom Riley

Existential Answer

Existential Answer

 

 

“I lack a razor now to shave my face.”
“Be grateful that you have a face to shave!”
“Your existential crap is a disgrace.
I lack a razor now to shave my face.
I only want a day that moves apace.
I only ask some comforts in my cave.
I lack a razor now to shave my face….”
“Be grateful that you have a face to shave!”

 

 

–Tom Riley