Flammeus Gladius

Carmina et Verba pro Discipulis Meis

Month: February, 2013

Scheduling Conflict

Scheduling Conflict





“It is cause and effect that I hate!”

He explained with disdain high and great.

“Though it may be a sin,

I refuse to give in:

I’ll reschedule my meeting with fate!”




–Tom Riley

Emperor of Ousters

The Emperor of Ousters



The Emperor of Ousters said farewell

To one of those he’d excised from the fold.

The cheer team gave a hip-hurray for Hell.


Wise with a wisdom every nose could smell,

Keen with the insights he had long retold,

The Emperor of Ousters said farewell.


He rang a long-prepared and mournful bell.

Loyalty, he insisted, wasn’t gold.

The cheer team gave a hip-hurray for Hell.


He who was ousted recognized the spell

As it was cast: the pattern was that old.

The Emperor of Ousters said farewell.


The lords of justice ruled that things were swell.

The sheep whined that timidity was bold.

The cheer team gave a hip-hurray for Hell.


The sad, soft voice can give the real hard sell.

The sad, soft hand maintains its unjust hold.

The Emperor of Ousters said farewell.

The cheer team gave a hip-hurray for Hell.



–Tom Riley

New Emperor

The New Emperor





He hid behind the curtain to survive.

They found him and they made him Emperor

Of all the world.  “Come on, lads: look alive!”

They hoisted him on shoulders as before

They’d hoisted no one.  Ah, one Caesar more—

And then, perhaps, another after that!

The ancient commonwealth?  Hell, why restore

That madness?  They could have an autocrat—

And, even if he ended up a brat

Fit for assassination, still his power

Would cram their own firm jaws till they grew fat.

They shaped their futures in that lucky hour.

And all their benefits were fixed for them.

They did it more by whim than stratagem.






–Tom Riley







Competing with the representative

Of the expanding Guild of Prostitutes,

She truly shows how Caesar’s wife should live:

She tears up all conventions by the roots.

Previous leader ladies have been beauts

In their own ways – but none has quite done this.

While slaves serve wine and dance and play their flutes,

She tries to steal an empire like a kiss.

Strike off her pretty head! the Furies hiss.

Give it a start – and we shall do the rest.

He’d have to be an awful fool to miss

That chance, to fail that small and simple test.

He doesn’t miss.  He doesn’t fail.  How sad!

After the fact, he wishes that he had.






–Tom Riley

Latro in the Mist

Latro in the Mist





All he remembers day to day

Is what it means to be a man.

What fools and liars choose to say

Fades from his mind – and that’s the plan.

If you are not indeed a fan

Of what is virile and direct,

Then he’ll affront you, as truth can.

Your hatred he won’t recollect.

His is a hard role to perfect—

But his performance must impress

The ones whose views are most correct,

The ones we all fear more or less.

For, though his memory is dim,

The very gods appear to him.






–Tom Riley

Olympic Wrestling

Olympic Wrestling




“Training alone will not a victor make.

To seize on skill of any kind is hard.

But, when you carry forth this highest prize,

Shout aloud with the greatness of your heart

That, by the ordinance of God, this man at least

Was born with valor’s brilliance in his eyes.”


–Pindar, “Ode to Epharmostus, Victor in the Wrestling,” trans. T.R.



We got rid of that wrestling stuff—

But held on tight to rhythmic dance.

Rhythmic gymnastics?  Close enough.

The point is that, as times advance,

The future’s vast and bright expanse

Puts an end to the past’s dull claims.

We have to take another stance.

These are the new Olympic Games.

Excellence – chief among the aims

The old Olympics targeted—

Is something that our own age tames

And even cages till it’s dead.

A natural aristocrat

We bind and smother.  Wrestle that!



–Tom Riley

In the Realm of the Punctual Devil

In the Realm of the Punctual Devil




He was late for salvation, poor guy.

Though he rushed, though he moved to apply

All his strength, all his speed,

He just didn’t succeed.

And the punctual Devil said: “Fry!”




–Tom Riley

Culture of Complaint

Culture of Complaint




It’s the culture of careless complaint

I exalt before sinner and saint.

Tears and cursing and sighing:

They need no justifying.

Am I happy?  I’m happy I ain’t.




–Tom Riley





“All your expressions, sir, are insincere!”

“I’d call that true perfection of a kind

Unparalleled in history.”  “Look here:

All your expressions, sir, are insincere.

Observing angels shed a giant tear.”

“I fear I lack the quick angelic mind.”

“All your expressions, sir, are insincere!”

“I’d call that true perfection – of a kind!”



–Tom Riley







Nobody wants to mess with Superbrat—

And only Clark can really manage it.

She wants her little way in nothing flat.

Clark counsels patience: Kara throws a fit.

And Terran kids?  They make her want to spit.

She’s wary of their sheer fragility.

Into their little cliques she doesn’t fit.

Nobody, she complains, is friends with me!

Someday she’ll learn that no one’s flying free,

That cousin Clark, who’s always smiling wide,

Is laden with responsibility

From which not even Superspeed can hide.

With many fans, I’m waiting for the day.

Until then, I’ll stay out of Kara’s way.





–Tom Riley