Flammeus Gladius

Carmina et Verba pro Discipulis Meis

Month: February, 2014

De Regulis Domini Obamae

De Regulis Domini Obamae



The Lord Obama’s automotive sense

Has moved his lips to state new rules for trucks.

Let heartfelt hallelujahs now commence!

Truckers: you’re not allowed to say he sucks.

The note a rooster sings transcends the clucks

Of chickens – and Obama rules the roost

Above all others!  Who cares if your luck’s

Hit bottom?  Who concedes you need a boost?

The Lord Obama cannot be induced

To modify his rules in any way.

Let regulators be at long last loosed!

Obama’s rules will change the world today.

Will distribution of our goods implode?

Big deal!  He’ll think of something down the road.



–Tom Riley




Not Untrue

Not Untrue

(for Peg Merrill) 

Now my sister’s declared me a snot.

Does it hurt inside?  Yes, quite a lot.

     Writhing’s what I must do.

     Does her judgment ring true?

Well, I can’t really claim it does not….

–Tom Riley

Spoken Word

The Spoken Word



(for Delia Bisconer)



The written word of course is meant for speaking,

But most of us can’t give it utterance.

Our voices – groaning, droning on, or creaking—

Slaughter the word and finally convince

Folks to try silent reading.  How they wince

To hear us say a single verse aloud!

Our meter limps.  It’s crying out for splints.

Our former confidence is quickly cowed.

That’s why of Delia we’re supremely proud.

From verses she constructs a symphony

To please the most discriminating crowd.

The judges have consulted and agree:

Delia has done what only Delia could!

Now even Margaret Atwood’s sounding good.



–Tom Riley







(for Jerry Cooper)


Jerry Cooper on Facebook?  Mistake!

So I thought when I saw.  Eyeballs, wake!

     Can it really be true?

     But I knew it was you

When I spotted the beautiful snake….



–Tom Riley

Vote for Cuomo, Not the Homo

Vote for Cuomo, Not the Homo



(When Mario Cuomo ran for Mayor of New York City in 1977, his son Andrew, now Governor of New York State, allowed supporters to deride rival Ed Koch with the slogan: “Vote for Cuomo, not the homo….”)



Anti-gay slurs are perfectly fine

If defeating a Jew’s your design

     So your dad gets the nod.

     Why, they’re sanctioned by God!

Otherwise, they are way out of line….



–Tom Riley

In Shadow’s Dreams

In Shadow’s Dreams






Shadow consults his father in his dreams.

Nobody says so – but you know it’s true.

A son may undermine a father’s schemes—

But there’s an end to what such acts can do

To the undying bond between the two.

And, after all, if you want wise advice,

Who in all worlds can give a deeper clue

Than this old wanderer across the ice?

You’re not allowed to ask a question twice,

O Odinson: that banishes the shade

Till many further dreams have passed.  The dice

We roll in dreams yield fractions that degrade

Into mere hints of size and quantity.

If Wednesday speaks, though, what hints those must be!






–Tom Riley

De Domina Gloriosa

De Domina Gloriosa



The Countess Blacula is in attendance.

Behold the splendor of her party dress—

And pass the photos down to your descendants!

$12,000 – not a penny less!—

Went to ensure that pundits would confess

Her as the ultimate in rich attire.

Hers is an opulence you can’t suppress.

Hers is a state to which you can’t aspire.

Applaud!  All who refuse incur her ire!

The IRS will audit their returns.

Pretend that her appearance wakes desire—

When really it is mortal dread that burns

In your poor heart!  She rules – and you are mud.

She’ll drink your future up, if not your blood.



–Tom Riley


De Alphabeta Cyrillica

De Alphabeta Cyrillica



Saints Cyril and Methodius set out

To give the Scriptures and the proper rule

To all the teeming Slavs.  If fear and doubt

Assailed those heroes as they built their School

Of Faith, then neither one was such a fool

As to surrender to the Devil’s fog.

Christ made the Devil go sit on a stool.

Christ even disciplined fierce Chernobog.

And, where unruly boys might hide a frog

Or snake, in desks that didn’t quite exist,

Christ set a fire.  The dark howled like a dog.

The cold could only shake a helpless fist.

Christ set the fire.  The saints declined to fret.

Methodically, Christ filled that alphabet.




–Tom Riley





(for Regina Phelps)



I’m sending you a super-Valentine.

What?  It’s your birthday, too?  That’s super-cool!

The tortured cerebration that is mine

Need never trouble you.  Your soul’s a pool

Of calm reflection.  You’re no super-fool—

But never need to let things get to you.

I shape my super-schemes – which, as a rule,

Are crazy.  Your responding screams are few.

No matter what my latest robots do,

Your super-strength and super-speed defeat

All of my plans.  You snicker at my crew

Of henchmen – and I snicker too, my sweet.

Your triumph gives me hope beyond despair.

It’s somehow comforting to know you’re there.




–Tom Riley

Party of the Dead

The Party of the Dead


(for Beth Collins)


“If there’s a rock and roll heaven,
Well, you know they’ve got a hell of a band….”


–Alan Earle O’Day


Invited to the Party of the Dead,

The living really don’t know what to wear.

They can’t conceive of how they will be fed.

They wonder if the watchful dead will stare.

Death is a state they do not wish to share.

Death is a song they do not wish to sing.

Death implies damage way beyond repair.

The Party of the Dead ain’t promising.

The preacher poet asked: “Where is thy sting?”

The living, though, aren’t typically persuaded.

For most of us, courageous posturing

Betrays a confidence that’s up and faded.

Don’t nail your thinking, people, in a box!

The Party of the Dead, it’s certain, rocks.




–Tom Riley