Flammeus Gladius

Carmina et Verba pro Discipulis Meis

Month: September, 2013

Drink Order

Drink Order






They have fine wines and cute cocktails here—

But I don’t think I’ll try those, my dear.

     Down that path I’m not led.

     I shall proudly, instead,

Rediscover the glory of beer.






–Tom Riley









Semi-literate, he holds his station

And acknowledges no perturbation—

     And no true thought, indeed.

     What he simply can’t read

Constitutes his chief qualification.






–Tom Riley

Good News about the Bad News

The Good News about the Bad News






Are things looking good?  No, they are not.

Ah, but let your fond hopes not be shot!

     It was clear, as smoke cleared,

     The disaster you feared

Wasn’t quite the disaster you got.






–Tom Riley





NEVER.  The Union would fight on.  Mankind would live free.

Or die.



–H. Paul Honsinger and Harvey G. Phillips, For Honor We Stand



“Never!” they cried – we cried – with one fierce voice.

All through the ship, the men stomped their defiance.

The overlords had given us a choice.

“Never!” we cried.  If ethics is a science,

If there is such a thing as self-reliance,

Then in that moment we discovered space

Beyond the realm of fear and of compliance

And looked the choice of choices in the face.

Servility was gone without a trace.

Survival wasn’t all that we desired

Or all that we aspired to.  As a race,

We told our overlords that they were fired.

They heard the hissing of a billion cats.

It’s possible they even chittered: “Rats!”



–Tom Riley

Your Inner Cher

Your Inner Cher



(for Cate Harmon)



Cate, you must cultivate your inner Cher

And revel in the songs she richly sings.

When the song cares, then you must strive to care.

When Cher thinks things, then you must think those things.

Sonny was just a salesman – but the wings

Of song belonged, and still indeed belong,

To Cher, all of whose public posturings

Were commentary on transcendent song.

Fly high, therefore – and know that it is wrong

To give the critics in your brain a chance

To question Cher!  Preventing them, stand strong—

And on the path of brilliant Cher advance.

This sage advice is far more than a tip.

You’ll be a goddess on the Vegas strip.



–Tom Riley







Sir, we just reencountered by chance.

Do I take any kind of a stance

     That’s conciliatory?

     Not in this man’s true story!

What you need’s a hard kick in the pants!





–Tom Riley

Justice Girl

Justice Girl



(for Teresa)



I used to watch you bolt across the field—

And knew that you were sprinting to the aid

Of one whose need could hardly be concealed.

In urgency, you always made the grade.

And that was only soccer.  Now you’ve played

The game of life a bit – and much the same.

When you are needed, you are unafraid.

When you play, it is never just a game.

O spirit that convention cannot tame,

O vigorous and fierce embodiment,

When shining justice makes its iron claim,

I know you won’t hold back from the event:

Though liars offered oceans of applause,

You never once defected from my cause.






Separate Case

A Separate Case





Some old maids make us say: “What a waste!”

They’re left single, and mankind’s disgraced.

     But your own case, Miss Smile—

     Oh, unspeakably vile!—

Makes us think that mankind has good taste.





–Tom Riley

Caput Mortis

Caput Mortis





Behind everyone’s face, there’s a skull.

Skulls are common – and not wonderful.

     But you’re different, my dear!

     In your smile, insincere,

A white death’s head is quite visible.





–Tom Riley

Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves

Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves

(for Téa Marie Erickson)

Cher was singing her song in your brain
Free of charge.  Oh, implausible rain
Of good luck and delight
In the glorious night!
But you, Téa, could only complain….

–Tom Riley