Flammeus Gladius

Carmina et Verba pro Discipulis Meis

October Country

October Country


(for John Bertolini)


Some of us love it best, this golden time.

Don’t suppose that we’re putting Christmas down.

But to the Christmas star we cannot climb.

It’s not for us to place the thorny crown

Upon an infant’s brow.  The emptied town,

And not the crowded inn, calls out to us.

The leaves are red and yellow, even brown,

And crumble underfoot.  Imperious,

The wind makes them an army.  It is thus

That we’re assailed by monsters whose existence

Is, on analysis, plain dubious.

Thus we embrace the shadow’s sheer persistence.

We do not think about it overmuch.

Soon enough, we will feel December’s touch.


–Tom Riley

Goddess Type

Goddess Type


(for Bailey Sciambra)


A humble mortal bound by iron chains

As we are?  Ha!  That’s what we always knew

You weren’t.  No matter what our brawn and brains,

We mortals always fall apart on cue.

But, even when you do what mortals do,

You rest beyond the reach of what is weak

In us, what really doesn’t have a clue,

What looks up and beholds a sky gone bleak.

I do not say that, in this, you’re unique.

Freya indeed, and Isis, spring to mind

As members of your club.  Not far to seek

Are more, athwart our frailty aligned.

Some who regard you can’t help being frightened.

I gaze at you and feel my burden lightened.


–Tom Riley