Flammeus Gladius

Carmina et Verba pro Discipulis Meis

Month: May, 2013

Omnia Negat

Omnia Negat

 

 

 

 

 

“To a lie I have never descended—

And untruth I have never intended.

     Let your charge be denied!”

     “But I just proved you lied.”

“By your proof I am deeply offended!”

 

 

 

 

 

–Tom Riley

Virtuecrat

The Virtuecrat

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, his tone is exalted and knowing.

He makes sure his connections are showing

     As he gives his address.

     All the sheep here bleat yes.

But his ass, not his virtue, is growing.

 

 

 

 

 

–Tom Riley

Loyalist

The Loyalist

 

 

 

 

 

He betrayed all his friends.  The demands

Of the age, which the sage understands,

     Made such deeds necessary.

     But of judgment be wary:

He was loyal to all of his brands!

 

 

 

 

 

–Tom Riley

Prophet of Decadence

The Prophet of Decadence

 

 

 

 

 

“What a powerful brain you’ve displayed!”

They exclaimed.  “Ah,” he said, “I’m afraid

     That my neurons won’t last:

     My best thinking is past!”

In a year, he was sorely decayed.

 

 

 

 

–Tom Riley

Back to Normal

Back to Normal

 

 

 

 

 

“We’ve got your neurons back to normal, sir.

Think really hard and then agree with us:

Of truth is each of us a minister.

We’ve got your neurons back to normal, sir—

And judgment’s not an act we can defer

A moment longer.  Now we’re serious:

We’ve got your neurons back to normal, sir.

Think really hard – and then agree with us.”

 

 

 

 

 

–Tom Riley

She Knows It All

She Knows It All

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Of course,” she says, “of course I know it all!”

But ask a little further and you’ll find

Her ignorance as solid as a wall,

As brainless as a boulder, and as blind.

You’ll stare hard at the limits of her mind,

Just past her proud and showy fluency,

And rule her category reassigned:

She’s not among the canny.  No, not she!

She is an emblem of transparency,

As clear and hard as sheets of plexiglass.

In her there is no room for subtlety,

No roundness of a motivating ass.

So turn away, my lad, from conversation:

She’s all there on initial observation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

–Tom Riley

Ghost of Wendy

The Ghost of Wendy

 

 

 

 

(for Wendy Cravalho)

 

 

 

 

Jesum novi et Paulum scio: vos autem qui estis?

 

 

 

She used to be a really busy ghost.

On the screen, her extreme activity

Was visible – unstoppable, almost.

We stared, we shook, we blanched, we thrilled to see.

When exorcists showed up, they seemed to be

Flustered, without resolve.  They didn’t stay

Long enough to impress appreciably.

The spirit drove the exorcists away.

And we were secretly relieved.  Today,

Without the help of any exorcist,

The screen is still – and so it means to stay.

Emptiness grips us in a solid fist.

The apparition ends – as instants will.

The ghost of Wendy’s ghost will haunt us still.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

–Tom Riley

Little Hitler

Little Hitler

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Big Hitler wants to murder lots of Jews.

But Little Hitler only wants salutes

From guys who have exchanged civilian shoes

For really shiny military boots.

Is Little Hitler evil?  He disputes

The very thought – for order’s not a sin.

His Powerpoint unerringly refutes

The errors of the accurate and thin.

Saliva isn’t dripping from his chin.

He isn’t rabid, as some foes assume.

But his calm talk could make a cool head spin

And produce snores throughout a spacious room.

He’s harmless: so his groupies, lame, contend.

I wish on him a hard and fiery end.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

–Tom Riley

Triolet to Duty

Triolet to Duty

 

 

 

 

He did the duty that he had to do—

But greatness doesn’t come about that way.

His clear and certain failures?  They were few.

He did the duty that he had to do.

Beyond that line, he didn’t have a clue—

And his survivors don’t have much to say.

He did the duty that he had to do.

But greatness doesn’t come about that way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

–Tom Riley

Curse of the Cyberneticians

Curse of the Cyberneticians

 

 

 

 

 

The chipmunk’s brain is full of information

The blacksnake’s belly can’t appreciate

As it digests the neurons.  Ah, creation!

The chipmunk’s brain is full of information—

Forever lost to serpentine predation.

Cyberneticians curse – but such is fate:

The chipmunk’s brain is full of information

The blacksnake’s belly can’t appreciate.

 

 

 

 

 

–Tom Riley

 

 

 

 

 

(First appeared in Magic Realism, Issue #6, Summer 1992.)