Flammeus Gladius

Carmina et Verba pro Discipulis Meis

Month: March, 2013

Emperor of Horror

The Emperor of Horror



(for Mainak Dhar)



The day that Mainak Dhar hit number one,

even the King sat up and took a look.

We who were fans before that day had fun

while the whole horror landscape writhed and shook.

Now I can say that, for a winning book,

I gave my life: it’s on page 99.

As master chef, that Mainak sure can cook.

As architect, he draws a grand design.

The right to boast in this cannot be mine,

I know, but I am boasting all the same–

the way a fan who’s never played the line

boasts when his team has won the year’s big game.

The Emperors: a great name for our team.

Mainak, you do the work.  We’ll share the dream.




–Tom Riley

Amicitia Nostra

Amicitia Nostra



I found our friendship lying by the road,

Dumped with a lot of other worthless crap:

An empty jug, a lame Pindaric ode,

A highly-inefficient cockroach trap,

And too much else to list.  The world’s sad lap

Is piled with junk discarded.  What I found

Was of this nature – and I am not sap

Enough to mourn mere garbage on the ground.

I left our friendship rotting in that mound.

What’s that you say?  You want to rescue it?

You will not need the aid of hunting hound.

You will not even have to search a bit.

You can get to it quick, with time to spare.

You know right where it is.  You dumped it there.




–Tom Riley

Mr. Logic Brain

Mr. Logic Brain




Now he’s a new man: Mr. Logic Brain!

Implanted circuits make him super smart.

Through all his trials, he stays supremely sane

And maintains mastery of every art—

Of every science, too.  But still his heart

Is human, as his calculations show

The public wants.  Controlling every part

Of his impressive whole, he’s on the go

On behalf of the truths he opts to know

And of the causes all wise men embrace.

His fans’ applause, he’s sure, can only grow

As he accelerates his mental pace.

Oh, join the throng that does not cheer in vain!

You can’t waste noise on Mr. Logic Brain.




–Tom Riley


The Victor


(In memoriam Jim Barrett, d. 14 March 2013)


Et exercitatus est tamquam dormiens Dominus tamquam potens crapulatus a vino.


–Ps. 77:65.


Some warriors raise legions.  You made wine.

Legions of Frenchmen hastened to confess

Defeat – and have a glass.  The grand design

Was realized.  Foes drank up your success.

To just such victories the Lord says yes.

Those beaten get to join the winning side.

Such piercing neatness solves the conflict mess.

Glorious is the triumph, wild the ride.

The giant, by your wine revivified,

Goes into action – and in victory

Can by his nature know no limits.  Wide

His arms are spread – and wide too may they be

For you, the gates by which souls enter in!

To see the grand truth clearly is to win.




–Tom Riley

Morning Solitude

Morning Solitude







His early solitude was good to taste.

He didn’t have to add a sweetener.

Black as the night, it didn’t ask for haste

In gulping – till the others dared to stir,

Till every eye became a straightener

Of what was slack and maybe lax in him.

Until then, he could easily aver

His hope was bright because the light was dim.

Strengthened thereby and, being strengthened, grim

As any gumshoe in a forties flick,

He fought through company and kept in trim

And managed hardboiled schemes that worked real slick.

He won his way, by measures far from crude,

To a new morning full of solitude.





-Tom Riley








“Objective evidence just hurts our feelings!”

They say in answer to your evidence.

“Inhuman spiders creep across bare ceilings—

And look down and indulge a hollow sense

That chiefly actual, observed events

Determine what we ought to say and do.

For such small brains, their errors are immense.

And there amongst them, Mr. Truth, are you.

How we wish you’d begin to get a clue!

How we wish you would understand emotions!

Then your objections to us would be few.

Then you’d apply correctly-scented lotions

To all the parts that we’re content to feel.

Then you’d approve what we cannot conceal.”




-Tom Riley

That Kind of Guy

That Kind of Guy





Sure, he’s the kind of guy who’d sell his soul—

If only he had any soul to sell.

Because his character is on the dole,

Sure, he’s the kind of guy who’d sell his soul—

In sections or, if someone asked him, whole.

If he has principles, no one can tell.

Sure, he’s the kind of guy who’d sell his soul—

If only he had any soul to sell.




–Tom Riley


The Heresiarch




(for Cate Harmon)




“I shall be an heresiarch someday!”

He made the resolution really young—

And tried to filter deep black from the gray

Of everyday existence.  Long unsung,

He crafted hymns so fit for throat and tongue

That only the elect held back from singing.

Experts admired the subtleties he’d wrung

From errors dull.  His rhetoric was stinging.

Angels, however, were forever winging

Through the air that he strove to dominate.

Up though his damned complexities were springing,

Angels revealed that all his love was hate.

His punishment on this world made him sick:

He ended up a common heretic.





-Tom Riley

Sporting Days

Sporting Days


(for the Crusaders)



On sporting days, the athletes get free dress.

Enlightenment has cheerfully descended!

What does it bring them?  Happiness, no less.


Because endeavor isn’t effortless,

Because excitement’s almost open-ended

On sporting days, the athletes get free dress.


The disciplined, of course, will not transgress.

Their choice of clothes can always be defended.

What does it bring them?  Happiness no less


Than the triumphant know upon success.

No clumsy footnotes have to be appended.

On sporting days, the athletes get free dress—


And all the common student types confess

Their envy of the liberty intended:

“What?  Does it bring them happiness?  No less!”


Thus rigid rules are subject to duress—

And privilege is recognized as splendid.

On sporting days, the athletes get free dress.

What does it bring them?  Happiness.  No less.


–Tom Riley

Right Again

Right Again





Though they forgive vast blunders every day,

They’ll never let you off for being right.

You said what no one should have dared to say.

You shook the liars from their bogus height.

You filled the long-tamed sky with sudden light.

You merited the stolid punishment

They’ve meted out to you.  The pointless flight

You made against their clouds has only sent

New obfuscations rolling in.  Relent

They cannot – and they wouldn’t if they could.

Yes, you were in the right – and they resent

Just that, foul scandal in a neighborhood

Where error is the only firm foundation.

They curse you and your canny cogitation.




-Tom Riley