Flammeus Gladius

Carmina et Verba pro Discipulis Meis

Month: January, 2013

Up and Coming

Up and Coming



(for Mainak Dhar)


He’s catching up to Stephen King.

Horror will never be the same.

While Stevie’s burning everything

In conflagrations sometimes lame,

Mainak is taking careful aim

At how we lose our liberty

By swearing hard in safety’s name.

A little girl will make us free.

All readers here may not agree—

But I think Mainak Dhar has space

For branching out.  Just possibly,

A vampire ought to show his face.

Bloodsuckers, Mainak: take a crack!

(Stephanie Meyer, watch your back….)



–Tom Riley

Mr. Liar

Mr. Liar




Mr. Liar’s a pro when he lies.

He adjusts the lie’s boldness and size

With incredible skill.

The facts bend to his will.

What was madness is presently wise.




–Tom Riley






The subtlety of your serene assault

Left all your witless enemies perplexed.

Was it a sly advantage or a fault,

The subtlety of your serene assault?

At no point could the officers cry: “Halt!”

Powerless vigilantes just stood vexed.

The subtlety of your serene assault

Left all your witless enemies perplexed.




–Tom Riley


The Meeting

Your enemies are meeting, lad, tonight

To find out how to deal with pesky you.

You needn’t think that they will see the light

And end up doing what they ought to do.

Rather, they’ll screw up with a brand new screw—

A screw that you cannot anticipate.

Their idiocy only they’ll renew—

And, in the realm of foolishness, do great.

Rejoice!  Thus they embrace as certain fate

Their own defeat – which spells your victory.

Everything in them that you love to hate

Destroys itself: a lovely sight to see!

Do not disturb them, lad, as they prepare

The blunder that their fortunes cannot bear.

–Tom Riley

True Professional

A True Professional



She’s practicing her high profession.

She’s demonstrating high ideals.

She will grant nature no concession.

Thought is a wound she daily heals.

For everything is as she learned it.

The gift of freedom?  She’s returned it.

Everything fits her labored mold.

On that view, anyhow, she’s sold—

And you and you and you, whose faces

Betray a fear of molds like hers:

She’ll sell you, too, you little curs!

She’ll peddle all your inner spaces!

A fortune in this way accrues.

She will not spend it, though, on booze.



–Tom Riley

In Unison

In Unison


I link arms quickly, right at the start,

With my fellow fools, earnest at heart.

Though we do stupid things,

Nonetheless we are kings.

We maintain that, together, we’re smart.



–Tom Riley

De Defensoribus Latinae

De Defensoribus Latinae


(for Maria Ferguson)


“Hoc dicens ferrum adverso sub pectore condit




Who will stick up for Latin?  You and I,

Maria, stand elected by the Lord

To offer Heaven one great battle cry

And charge ahead with one sublime accord.

The ignorant have mindlessly ignored

The shining language that made Virgil great—

So, like Aeneas, we take up the sword

And do our bit for Rome’s eternal fate.

Though it is true I come to battle late,

I have youth on my side, love, thanks to you.

Infirmities of age for now abate.

Your smile has made me almost good as new.

Righteous we are – and therefore furious.

Barbarians were fools to mess with us.


–Tom Riley

Spy’s Consolation

The Spy’s Consolation

(for Aaron Campbell)

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son….”

We have to spy when tyrants spy on us.
You understood this, Aaron, best of all.
What John and I, with just a joke and cuss,
Did fighting, you did spying.  When the call
Comes from the conscience, ah, the voice is small—
But manages to fill a man’s whole mind.
That voice reechoes through the inner hall—
And duty stands insistently assigned.
All of us paid a price – and none were blind
To payment.  In your case, the Jabberwock
Was a risk in the darkness, ill-defined—
A risk indeed, but nothing like a shock.
Still, he, so arrogant, was shocked the day
That little Alice, righteous, made him pay.

–Tom Riley

Inimicus Indignus

Inimicus Indignus



Stuck with you, mister, as an enemy,

I have to watch my status melt away.

All of my cells reluctantly agree:

Stuck with you, mister, as an enemy,

I’m also struck with triviality

And forced to labor pettily all day.

Stuck with you, mister, as an enemy,

I have to watch my status melt away.



–Tom Riley




(for Cynthia Sprowell)


“A dull boom came from her right.  A thin pillar of smoke rose in the distance from the direction of where the bunker was.

“Baker had succeeded in her mission….”


The dull boom sounded, and the thin smoke rose.

The game in which the whole world was at stake

Resolved itself – with help from you.  And those

Who fell along the troubled way could take

Delight, O Baker, in the way you bake,

Armed against every form of servitude.

Elites had tried to have and eat their cake.

You slapped them soundly.  Hey, there: don’t be rude!

I do not claim that angel choirs were cued—

But John and I, imbibing, gave a cheer.

World domination?  Lofty attitude

Regarding our ill fortune with a sneer?

All those vile schemes were now mere history.

I knew you’d get the bastards back for me.




–Tom Riley