Flammeus Gladius

Carmina et Verba pro Discipulis Meis

Month: August, 2013

Quite a Mess

Quite a Mess






It is true I have made quite a mess.

Complications I can’t even guess

     Soon will fall on my head.

     To the beasts I’ll be fed.

Even then, I’ll refuse to confess.






–Tom Riley

Weighty Syllables

Weighty Syllables






I hoarded weighty syllables—

And all the words I said were light.

Viewing imaginary skulls,

I hoarded weighty syllables

Inside a soul whose gods were gulls

On empty seashores.  Cold that night,

I hoarded weighty syllables—

And all the words I said were light.






–Tom Riley





(for Coleen and Jerry Cooper)



The Coopers used to cuddle rattlesnakes.

Difficult to believe?  Perhaps – but true.

Wise herpetologists make no mistakes.

And wisdom?  Well, that’s what the Coopers do.

Back then, gigantic Jerry always knew

Exactly how control could be maintained—

And Coleen had far more than just a clue.

The rattlesnakes were perfectly restrained.

Snakes can be vicious, and they’re peanut-brained

All of the time.  But, Coopers, well you know

That human creatures you and I retained

As friends for years had wits at least that slow

And far less principle than any snake.

Even to learn their names was a mistake.



–Tom Riley

Big Mortal Is Watching

Big Mortal Is Watching






God, omniscient, was watching all day

And all night.  People still dared to play

     Games for which they were game

     Without harboring shame.

So what shamed them?  The damn N.S.A.!






–Tom Riley

Rodeo Clown

Rodeo Clown






Lost his job, did he?  Well, folks, that sounds

Right and just – and approval abounds

     In my heart.  Good to see!

     This clown mocked, recklessly,

The most famous of all of our clowns!






–Tom Riley

Long Expedition

Long Expedition






“I’m commencing a long expedition.

For my absence I’ll show no contrition.

     It’s the future I’m brewing.

     I don’t know what I’m doing—

But I do have a strong sense of mission!”






–Tom Riley





(for Debra Saunders)



Amongst those who can never be replaced,

You make the world uneasy when you go

Where hostile facts must be at long last faced,

Where chaos has been planted and must grow.

Reality is not indeed a show:

Real things occur and mostly go unseen.

What we most need to know we cannot know.

Vermin find homes in every neat machine.

Watch yourself, therefore.  Where the gods convene,

They grant no safety even to their own.

The forest may seem all inviting green—

But it is not a place to be alone.

There are some gods who love a soul that dares.

Dare boldly, then – but watch out for the bears.



–Tom Riley


Causa Spei

Causa Spei



(for Sheri Yee)



The night that I met Sheri Yee,

Conservatives were suffering.

The dark sky chuckled at our plea.

The future’s angels wouldn’t sing.

For there were facts – and did they sting!

The nation’s leader was a flake.

The GOP was dithering.

Liberty snored and didn’t wake.

But Sheri Yee brought chocolate cake.

In Bloomberg’s spite, I had my share.

Will voters learn, for Heaven’s sake?

To make predictions I don’t dare.

But to despair I won’t agree.

There’s hope.  I just met Sheri Yee!



–Tom Riley

Infantile Yell

Infantile Yell






He will be, if he wants to be, loud.

He’ll expect the whole world to be cowed

     By his infantile yell.

     When it’s not – what the hell?—

He will not be a fraction less proud.






–Tom Riley

Make a Wish

Make a Wish






Out of habit, you wish on a star.

But the star, my lad, views from afar

     And cares little for you.

     Take a far closer view:

Make a wish on my smirk and cigar!






–Tom Riley