Flammeus Gladius

Carmina et Verba pro Discipulis Meis

Month: June, 2015

Minimal Man

Minimal Man

 

 

I do only the minimum, folks.
When the world cries for more, my heart chokes.
When necessity screams,
I forget all my dreams.
I shall smile, but not laugh, at your jokes.

 

 

–Tom Riley

Things Are What They Seem

Things Are What They Seem

 

 

A wise man that I know wants me to see
That in some cases things are what they seem.
Quite readily, thus guided, I agree—
And rush to join the plain and simple team.
The world is plainer than the plainest dream
And simpler than the dullest simpleton.
Wits never have to twist in an extreme
And subtle way. Our clearest problem: none.
But I don’t find this simple world much fun.
Where are the convolutions of the plot?
Where are the mysteries that, one by one,
We hurl ambitious minds against – or not?
Sage of direct perception, if you’re right,
My eyes weren’t made to see by such a light.

 

 

–Tom Riley

 

 

(First appeared in The Lyric, v. 95, n. 2, Spring 2015.)

Unity

Unity

 

 

“If you kiss the same asses we kiss,
you may stay on the edges of this,
our fine organization–
but you’ll hold a low station,
and your eager lips better not miss!”

 

 

–Tom Riley

Initiative Process

Initiative Process

 

 

He started an initiative.
(That is what Catholic leaders do.)
Although his mind was like a sieve,
he started an initiative.
That is what God will not forgive
when all the world is judged anew.
He started an initiative.
(That is what Catholic leaders do.)

 

 

–Tom Riley

Humility

Humility

 

 

Humility is what I’m learning–
for that’s the task I’ve been assigned.
My proud and lofty nature’s burning
to rend the heart and calm the mind.
When vast temptations seek to enter,
let Christian virtue rule my center!
And let my quick blood not aspire
to devilish and stellar fire!
Let me eschew the wild example
of brilliant, iron-handed Blake–
who at his smithy dared to make
an elevation more than ample
out of the stuff of earth! I crawl–
the humblest fellow of them all.

 

 

–Tom Riley

Inadmissible

Inadmissible

 

 

Capital punishment is off the table.
The pope is proud to promulgate this teaching.
And victims of revolting crimes? Unable
to give them justice, he will give them preaching.

 

 

–Tom Riley

Symptomatic

Symptomatic

 

 

I have symptoms. I view them anew–
and I’m shaking to make my review.
I am faced with reality.
I am filled with mortality.
I have symptoms, my friend — as do you.

 

 

–Tom Riley

Divus Augustus

Divus Augustus

 

 

He drew a sword against conspirators.
Against his reign, the universe conspired.
Agrippa won the necessary wars–
but then (and way too early) he retired
from all-oppressive life. What was desired
by men was not this quiet-living lord
of order, god aloof and simple-lyred,
but former chaos carefully restored.
They got it, too: more than they could afford.
Brief were the generations till it came–
and all would soon reject, with one accord,
the glory of the pacifying name.
They preferred Jesus Christ, hard to define:
he’d never really slapped them into line.

 

 

–Tom Riley

Novel That He Wrote

The Novel That He Wrote

 

 

He’s reading from the novel that he wrote.
O lucky listeners, don’t snore aloud!
Approaching nothingness by asymptote,
he’s reading from the novel that he wrote.
You’re tempted, I’m aware, to get his goat
by snoozing. May your sleepy souls be cowed!
He’s reading from the novel that he wrote.
O lucky listeners, don’t snore aloud!

 

 

–Tom Riley

Pundit

Pundit

 

 

He can comment on captains and kings,
on how one gal disrobes and one sings,
on absurd foreign strife,
and on everyday life.
He gets paid well to say stupid things.

 

 

–Tom Riley