Flammeus Gladius

Carmina et Verba pro Discipulis Meis

Tag: Baby Jesus

Out of the Box

Out of the Box

The present that is opened disappears.
It ceases to be present. It is past.
My soul past all such disappointment steers
This morning. Joy still fades, but not as fast.
As I resist all greed, the future’s vast
With promising unknowns that yet might be.
Why should the treeside die be duly cast?
Why not remain in possibility?
Santa, shut up! Your sheer vulgarity
Is quite enough to make me count you out.
Your presents I shall leave unopened, see?
If you don’t hear my quiet words, I’ll shout.
One present must be opened, though. I mean
The Baby Jesus, Savior long foreseen.

–Tom Riley

Plan to Capture Santa Claus

The Plan to Capture Santa Claus



His plan to capture Santa Claus was stark
In its unparalleled simplicity.
Next to his own house grew a lofty tree
Whose boughs could bear him up. There, in the dark,
He would wait, sniper rifle at the ready,
For the arrival of the laden sleigh.
Take the lead reindeer out – and they’d all stay,
The visitants of Christmas Eve, unsteady.
He should have guessed, of course, that Santa had
A thorough network of insightful spies.
He should have seen the scorn in merry eyes.
Too late! Too late! Words simple, stark, and sad.
Off then to Santa’s gulag, ill-intentioned.
Funny. The Infant Christ was never mentioned.



–Tom Riley

Manger Scene

Manger Scene


They object strongly to your manger scene.

They organize to make you take it down.

Their absolutist views they keep pristine.

Your compromises they will never crown.

The tyrant often doubles as a clown—

And these are no exception finally.

They mean to rule the whole surrendered town.

They know they’ll get the townies to agree.

But better their absurd vacuity

Than your alternative of empty show,

Than your slick, Herod-governed pageantry.

They keep their zeal, however low they go.

They don’t commit the dire crime of an art

That enshrines Christ in places not the heart.


–Tom Riley

October Country

October Country


(for John Bertolini)


Some of us love it best, this golden time.

Don’t suppose that we’re putting Christmas down.

But to the Christmas star we cannot climb.

It’s not for us to place the thorny crown

Upon an infant’s brow.  The emptied town,

And not the crowded inn, calls out to us.

The leaves are red and yellow, even brown,

And crumble underfoot.  Imperious,

The wind makes them an army.  It is thus

That we’re assailed by monsters whose existence

Is, on analysis, plain dubious.

Thus we embrace the shadow’s sheer persistence.

We do not think about it overmuch.

Soon enough, we will feel December’s touch.


–Tom Riley