Flammeus Gladius

Carmina et Verba pro Discipulis Meis

Month: July, 2013








Now like cats and like dogs shall we fight.

With our words, not our teeth, shall we bite.

     With incautious things said,

     We shall wound heart and head.

Concussed hard, we shall not see the light.





–Tom Riley

Biters to Santorini

Biters to Santorini



(for Mainak Dhar)



In Santorini, where the vampires are,

Zombies have not inspired tremendous fear—

Until now.  Who’s arriving?  Mainak Dhar!

The homegrown monsters sense that he is here.

“What is this strange disturbance to our sphere?”

“Don’t you know?  It’s the guy who made them rise—

The Biters!  He’s the top imagineer

Of the age, scribe of tales both fierce and wise.

If he is here, we have to recognize

That Alice, spunky Queen of the Undead,

Is also on the island.  From her eyes,

No glamour can conceal us.  Flee instead!”

“I’m sure his mortal blood would taste just fine.”

“Don’t be a bonehead!  Leave him to his wine!”




–Tom Riley


O lector, nota, te amabo

Line 1:  Santorini is one of the Cyclades and is traditionally known in Greece as the place where vampires prowl.  In fact, a Greek idiom – translated as “vampires to Santorini” – corresponds to the English expression “coals to Newcastle.”

Line 7:  I’d love to take credit for the word “imagineer,” but in reality I stole it from Mark Millar’s graphic novel Red Son, where the infant Superman lands in Ukraine and becomes a Soviet superhero.    

Line 13:  I’m stretching the limits of folklore here: the Greek vampire rarely drinks blood. 

Sex and the Superman

Sex and the Superman




In Man of Steel, there’s very little sex.

Somebody messes with a waitress?  Clark

Stops it, disguised as Wimposaurus rex.

After that, there’s no lusting fierce and dark.

The villain is a sort of programmed shark

Who kills us flimsy folk to serve his own.

Lois and Superman do share a spark—

But never far beyond the comfort zone.

O sages of the silver screen, the lone

Hero can be a fascinating sight!

Omissions may make Flynt and Hefner groan—

But in that vacuum I perceive a light.

Women of Kleenex, dread that man of steel!

From such a broken heart, you may not heal.



–Tom Riley

Unassigned Duties

Unassigned Duties






You’re required with a foresight omniscient

And an energy super-efficient

     To make up for my blunders.

     Plus, my righteous wrath thunders

If you dare to suggest I’m deficient!






–Tom Riley








I have done something shameful, alas!

Who’d have thought I could come to this pass?

     Now my soul is a mess.

     There’s a sin to confess!

I considered not kicking your ass….






–Tom Riley






They saw you wearing spandex on the street—

Out for a walk, I guess for exercise.

With sin your aging body was replete.

Fat undulated on your thunder thighs.

As you were nursing your internal lies,

The truth was evident to all who saw.

It wasn’t that you had flaws: to the wise,

It was clear that you were yourself a flaw.

Spandex, you skank?  To groan or to guffaw:

That is the Hamlet question you inspire.

At little guts such nightmare visions gnaw.

You have aroused disgust and not desire.

Those poor kids saw what no one ought to see.

Now they’re in desperate need of therapy.




–Tom Riley

Speak Evil

Speak Evil






She speaks evil – and speaks it all day.

We object – but she speaks anyway.

     Though we rise to protest,

     She speaks evil with zest.

She speaks evil – and has lots to say.






–Tom Riley

My Fellow Man

My Fellow Man






Lord, I know that my chances are slim.

Oh, the judgment that threatens is grim!

     Nonetheless, Lord, I pray

     That you don’t at last say

I’ll be forced to be saved next to him!






–Tom Riley


The Enablers






“Won’t you flatter my ego?” he cried.

“Yes, we will!  Oh, we will!” they replied.

     Words were equal to cash.

     Plans were laid in a flash.

Their stupidity pumped up his pride.






–Tom Riley

California Boy

California Boy



(for Andrew Conemac)



They sent you into frozen exile, far

From any place where people make good wine.

They made you wish upon a northern star.

The sky did not display a friendly sign.

You might as well have crossed the ancient Rhine

And lived amongst the savages who slew

The legions of the Emperor.  Define

Your loss?  I guess I’ll leave that up to you.

But now, at long last, life is made anew:

You’re back in California once again!

You’ve joined a sunnier and cooler crew.

Your spirit knows delight and says amen.

You’re California with a vengeance, sir—

Way beyond what you previously were.




–Tom Riley