Flammeus Gladius

Carmina et Verba pro Discipulis Meis

Month: March, 2014

Terminus Is Not the End

Terminus Is Not the End


(for Mary Kersting)


“They’re screwing with the wrong people.”


Well, fans, Rick Grimes is back – and kicking ass.
Those tough guys at the campsite never knew
What hit them. All that stupid macho sass—
And, ouch, our team destroyed their whole damn crew!
Joe the Philosopher of Bandits threw
It all away by thinking decent Rick
Was soft. In Hell, at last he has a clue.
Rick whipped him with that gnashing walker shtick.
Plus, Daryl ain’t no ordinary hick.
Michonne is recognized as samurai.
It’s true that Terminus pulled off the trick
Its leaders planned. No doubt that Gareth guy
Is gloating. Let the little sucker gloat!
Rick still has teeth – and Gareth has a throat.


–Tom Riley






“Hey! I’m lost in unfounded illusion!
When a fissure appears, I see fusion.
Every thought that I’ve had
Proves mistaken….” “Ah, lad,
You have just drawn the proper conclusion!”



–Tom Riley

Strong and Weak

Strong and Weak


Said Barack: “Putin’s not strong! He’s weak!
He’s a half-sized, deformed Russian freak.
And his guys? Half-assed bums!”
“Hey, Barack, here he comes!”
“Please excuse me to go take a leak….”



–Tom Riley






On my joints, age is starting to seize.
Wrists and elbows proceed by degrees
Till my hands lack support
And cannot hold the fort.
Plus, my poor knees are brought to their knees.



–Tom Riley

Praemium Ultimum

Praemium Ultimum



The pope has made a positive impression—
And Jimmy Carter’s pretty much on board.
Perhaps the Catholic Church’s late progression
Can merit Mr. Carter as reward.
Perhaps he will no longer praise the Lord
As Baptist, but instead as one of us.
If we can win his soul to that accord,
There’s little doubt he’d constitute a plus.
But still right now he isn’t on the bus:
We have to beg him through a woman priest.
O Holy Father, do not make a fuss!
You’ve been a teddy bear. Don’t be a beast!
You’ve done well – but you’ll have to try much harder
To win the membership of Jimmy Carter.



–Tom Riley

European Vacation

European Vacation


(for Monica Tol)

Our leader went to Europe once again—
And to the country of your residence.
You European types are lucky when,
Despite the hostile rollout of events,
He deigns to haul his brain, so damn immense,
Across the pond – and rains his benefits
Down on your heads. We don’t grudge the expense
Of sending him to you to show his wits.
But we expect him always to score hits.
After all, he’s a rock star, isn’t he?
I will not pick at presidential nits—
But his force has declined perceptibly.
His speech? All he could do was stumble through.
Somebody clapped. I know it wasn’t you.

–Tom Riley


Bonehead Plan

The Bonehead Plan


The brilliant shaper of the bonehead plan
Is ready to defend all his decisions.
More wise and clever deity than man,
The brilliant shaper of the bonehead plan
Does everything a brilliant shaper can
To justify his first draft, then revisions.
The brilliant shaper of the bonehead plan
Is ready to defend all his decisions.



–Tom Riley


The Libation

“I tried to save the Shire, and it has been saved, but not for me.”

Once he had sacrificed his everything,
Pity and Providence stepped boldly in:
The Quest was rescued! Gondor’s sudden king
Would rule an last. The new age could begin.
That’s the way that the little people win.
They pour their essence out like a libation
Until there’s nothing left – a loss akin
To the effulgent instant of creation,
But subject to the poor priest’s limitation.
And, oh, was Frodo limited! His will
Was broken right in half. No reservation:
The contents of his being had to spill
Into the conflagration with the Ring.
Only a shell was left for rescuing.


Happy Downfall of Barad-dûr!


25 March 2014

Subtlest of Blades

The Subtlest of Blades

I am honing the subtlest of blades
Through a hundred cool stages and grades.
When I have it just right,
Then we’ll have our knife fight.
Just remember: no mercy; no trades.

–Tom Riley

Krypton Eye

Krypton Eye



(for Regina Phelps)



I’m looking through the pupil of an eye.

I am relieved: the eye’s not glowing red;

No bolt of energy is set to fly

In the direction of my balding head.

I see the green of Kryptonite instead:

The Supergirl within her eye contains

The very stuff of her defeat, I’m led

To reason with my evil mutant brains.

But to destroy her I’m not taking pains.

The darkness of that pupil is to me

A universe of life while it remains

Part of my villainous reality.

It renders me one helpless evil guy—

Though she and I do not see eye to eye.




–Tom Riley