Flammeus Gladius

Carmina et Verba pro Discipulis Meis

Human Factor

The Human Factor

 

 

Had the moves all worked out in my head.
Oh, I swear to the truth I have said!
But my foe pondered long,
and my recall went wrong–
and I played an absurd move instead.

 

 

–Tom Riley

Up Early

Up Early

 

 

Got up early. I know how that is.
At insomnia, I am a wiz.
I am not skilled at sleep.
Facing darkness, I weep–
for I’ll fail the unconsciousness quiz.

 

 

–Tom Riley

Some Saint

Some Saint

 

 

You, I’m told, I should never despise.
Some saint said it. I don’t memorize
saintly names. Be advised:
you are thus not despised.
I just hate your foul guts, damn your eyes!

 

 

–Tom Riley

Follow the Leader

Follow the Leader

 

 

It’s clear that you take pride in loyalty.
Follow-the-leader leads your ass to Hell.
Your little soul lies not too deep to see.
It’s clear that you take pride in loyalty
to leaders and unflaggingly agree
with all their bonehead moves. Hey, that’s just swell!
It’s clear that you take pride in loyalty.
Follow-the-leader leads your ass to Hell.

 

 

–Tom Riley

Second Moon

Second Moon

 

 

My heart is dreaming of a second moon–
but my poor brain is utterly awake.
I will not know that shining dream real soon.
It dwells now only in my inward ache.
Friends, it is often so. For spirit’s sake,
our organs generate a greater sky
than we have ever seen. But, oh, we take
no comfort there: we call it all a lie!
Logic indeed is easy to defy
at first: a helpless bitch, it takes our slap
with nothing more rebellious than a sigh.
But all its offered weakness is a trap.
In our defiance, it’s soon clear, we sinned–
and iron-sinewed logic has us pinned.

 

 

–Tom Riley

Self-Promotion

Self-Promotion

 

No one wants it. It’s nobody’s goal.
It’s a vast and improbable hole.
It’s a point of dispute.
It’s a horse’s patoot.
Sell your expertise, lad — not your soul!

 

 

–Tom Riley

Pueri Erunt Pueri

Pueri Erunt Pueri

 

 

Boys, they tell us, will surely be boys.
They will grapple and make lots of noise.
But I don’t hear a riot.
Things are quiet — too quiet.
And I think boys are no longer boys.

 

 

–Tom Riley

Chessplayers

The Chessplayers

 

 

They played chess. And they played really late.
Midnight came — and the dark had to wait
for the game’s resolution
and the king’s execution.
Time went slack and could not find a mate.

 

 

–Tom Riley

Wide Load

Wide Load

 

 

What an ass! It could smother Brazil!
It is not just a blubbery hill:
it’s a Jovian moon!
It’s a big-screen cartoon!
Its mere size can make whole nations ill!

 

 

–Tom Riley

Cavalry Charge

Cavalry Charge

 

 

They charged boldly. Abjectly we fled.
How we wished we could ride in their stead!
Of our lot we were tired.
Then machine guns were fired–
and those glorious lads were all dead.

 

 

–Tom Riley

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