Flammeus Gladius

Carmina et Verba pro Discipulis Meis

Month: April, 2013

Unmasked Marvel


Unmasked Marvel



(for Ben Hatke)



With a word, he could throw off all the weight

That’s settled on his shoulders through the years—

And be the kind of body villains hate

And have the strength that malefaction fears.

Just think: the tortured oldster disappears

The moment that he manages Shazam!

He is charged with the cheering of the spheres.

The little boy within him thinks: Hot damn!

But he stays strong – and isn’t on the lam

From what his nature says he has to be.

I am, he says with Popeye, what I am!

Senescence doesn’t mean senility.

It is his heroism that has freed him.

He’ll only say the word when others need him.




–Tom Riley


(http://letflythecannons.blogspot.com/2013/04/shazam.html )

Noted Speaker

Noted Speaker

We begged him for his wisdom.  He just belched.

We angled for his wit.  He only farted.

His latest set of foes had not been squelched.

Afraid of a response, he never started

To speak.  And we went slowly, broken-hearted,

Into the silence he declined to fill.

Our humble aspirations were discarded.

The lack of inspiration crushed our will.

After a while, thought got a chance to spill

Over the edges of our emptiness.

We analyzed our memories – and ill

They seemed then.  Could it really be?  Yes, yes:

This silence was the best that he could do;

His speeches had been farts and belches, too.

–Tom Riley

Cortright Farewell

Cortright Farewell

Have all the Cortright girls gone through my class?
Is the last of those babes a graduate?
I summon up a ponderous alas
and breathe it forth, too old to throw a fit.
Clare with her quick and penetrating wit,
Margaret with her deep and piercing eyes,
the learned Monica, with me a hit,
and Grace, who lightly cut me down to size–
they’re now the beauties of my past.  I rise
to recognize that hard and icy truth.
Out the half-open window all hope flies.
My middle years are gone now, like my youth.
With wisdom insufficiently imbued,
I can’t endure such loss of pulchritude.

Love and Tears,


1 July 2k7

Area of Excellence


Area of Excellence







In one way he is clearly superior—

But it’s not in his cherished interior,

     In his heart, in his brain:

     These are slight and mundane.

What he has is a giant posterior!





–Tom Riley



I survive.  It’s a challenge – but still
I go on.  My unbeatable will
Sees me through pain and strife—
For the purpose of life
Is to prove yourself real heard to kill.

–Tom Riley



(for Norbert Bozyk)

You shape a 3-D world where heroes dwell.
Our world, they tell us now, has ten dimensions.
Updated to eleven, sir?  Oh, well:
I can’t keep up with science’s contentions.
I much prefer your unconstrained inventions,
Free in the three dimensions where they’re made.
I hope they mind authorial intentions.
I hope they show their strength when they’re displayed.
And I hope that transcendence is conveyed
In the mere three dimensions that are theirs,
That armies of ascension are arrayed
In them beyond 11-D affairs.
All art must be, at least in part, conventional.
May yours be also truly three-dimensional!

–Tom Riley

Entropy Rules

Entropy Rules



(for Ben Riley)




Entropy rules that things break everywhere—

And that’s what makes a lot of work for Ben.

Do mechanisms seem lost past repair?

He’s fixed them – and he’ll fix them once again.

He cannot chat with every denizen

Of nature’s unreliable machine

About what works and doesn’t work – but, when

He’s needed, he will make the sudden scene

And quietly, with swift skill, intervene

Until the trend toward breakage is reversed.

He fixes – though he doesn’t always clean

Afterward up.  And we are most accursed

In that he cannot fix the brains of fools.

That is why entropy, at long last, rules.






–Tom Riley

Viros Claros Nunc Laudemus

Viros Claros Nunc Laudemus!







Folks, let us now praise goddamned liars!

On earth, from now on, they’re in charge.

Let us adjust as time requires,

Folks: let us now praise goddamned liars

Who strive to serve their base desires!

Let our lame sympathy wax large,

Folks!  Let us now praise goddamned liars!

On earth, from now on, they’re in charge.




–Tom Riley

Hot Beverage

Hot Beverage






Today I’ll try a cup of boiling facts

In place of lukewarm coffee or weak tea.

Since it is morning, why should I relax?

Today I’ll try a cup of boiling facts—

Fortification for heroic acts

That enemies don’t really want to see.

Today I’ll try a cup on boiling facts

In place of lukewarm coffee or weak tea.




–Tom Riley

Helplessly Real

Helplessly Real






Sir, with physical things I am bored—

And of virtual things I am lord.

     Do you threaten?  Big deal.

     You are helplessly real—

And, I think, may be safely ignored.





–Tom Riley