Flammeus Gladius

Carmina et Verba pro Discipulis Meis

Month: September, 2015

Say My Name

Say My Name

 

 

Heisenberg proved a hard lie to tame.
It grew truer — for that was the aim
under which it was formed.
All the passions that stormed
became calm in that word. “Say my name.

 

 

–Tom Riley

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Avoidance

Avoidance

 

 

Pope pleads hard for the guys on death row.
Ever on with their lives let them go!
But the infant whose tomb
is his own mother’s womb?
That’s an impolite subject, you know.

 

 

–Tom Riley

 

 

(Pope opposes death penalty but not abortion in speech to Congress.)

Uppercut Not Taken

The Uppercut Not Taken

 

 

You should have punched Obama in the groin
as I instructed. Why can’t pontiffs pay
attention? What a simple way to join
the virile sages of a vanished day!
They say that Athanasius slugged away
at Arius — and I believe the tale.
Was Arius that bad? No way, I say.
He never backed a baby organ sale.
Francis, you disappoint. It’s sad to fail
in duty, so it’s time for you to frown.
But do you? Not at all. Nor do you wail
forth the regret that should be failure’s crown.
You smile as though you think you broke some tape.
Why should you smile? You let that punk escape.

 

 

–Tom Riley

Mayor of Brainerd

The Mayor of Brainerd

 

 

(in memoriam James Wallin, d. 26 Sept. 2015)

 

 

I teased your decency when first we met.
Oh, well, that’s something that I often do.
Father of Serpents, how can I forget
to hiss hard at such righteous folk as you?
Your decency was pure and turned the cue
for irritation, with a smile, away.
And I in turn was stunned. I thought anew.
I learned esteem for Lutherans that day.
Friend, at this moment, who knows what to say?
I’ve lost my hiss. My silence is a well
of emptiness, a game I used to play.
I pray that I can fall the way you fell,
a world beyond the lion’s fierce pursuing,
the kind of man who did what needed doing.

 

 

–Tom Riley

Bitter Defeat

Bitter Defeat

 

 

Have you learned what it’s like, lad, to fail?
Is that bitter defeat in the wail
I am hearing from you?
Is that dark despair, too?
Oh, well: victory tends to get stale.

 

 

–Tom Riley

Secret Faith

Secret Faith

 

 

You started yet another confrontation–
irrational, as always, from the start.
Out from the treasure chamber of your heart,
you bodied forth absurd denunciation
and ill-considered, bogus accusation
unjustified by any verbal art
or any evidence that you were smart
enough to comprehend your own oration.
You grumbled, cursed, and babbled all at once–
and almost used forbidden language, too.
You contemplated wild and wasteful stunts.
You harbored an absurd and harmful view.
It is the secret faith of every dunce.
You called on God and thought that God was you.

 

 

–Tom Riley

What’s Temporary

What’s Temporary

 

 

Over what’s temporary I obsess.
Oh, who can stand the stuff that’s permanent?
To every fleeting moment I say yes.
Over what’s temporary I obsess.
Eternal verities are just a mess.
Why should they win my unrestrained assent?
Over what’s temporary I obsess.
Oh, who can stand the stuff that’s permanent?

 

 

–Tom Riley

Ancient Souls

Ancient Souls

 

 

(for Jerry Cooper)

 

 

We were old when the old world was young,
when the songs folks forget were unsung.
So we’re frightfully old–
but still vital and bold.
(Pardon me: I just coughed up a lung….)

 

 

–Tom Riley

Damned Inequality

Damned Inequality

 

 

He hates damned inequality more
than he hates theft or unrighteous war
or the Devil’s red ass
or economy class.
He will make us all equally poor.

 

 

–Tom Riley

Ruder

Ruder

 

 

“How rude of you to keep your hat on, guy!”
“You’d judge me ruder if you saw my head:
your heart would give a wild internal cry.”
“How rude of you to keep your hat on, guy!
To you the rules, you may think, don’t apply.
I’d urge you to be tractable instead.
How rude of you to keep your hat on, guy!”
“You’d judge me ruder if you saw my head.”

 

 

–Tom Riley