Flammeus Gladius

Carmina et Verba pro Discipulis Meis

Tag: bishops

Perverse Insights

Perverse Insights

Bishop Biff finds my insights perverse—
And pronounces on them such a curse
As he cannot take back.
Then he moves to attack,
Wildly swinging a cute little purse.

–Tom Riley

Big Sister

Big Sister


Some gal whose blog is Steel Magnificat
Hey, clever, right? — defends her buddy Shea.
It’s clear that, in his poor-plump-bunny way,
He fled to her. Oh, help me, for a lot
Of mean kids are proclaiming I’m a snot
And threatening to go this very day
Complaining to the bishop! Now dismay
Engulfs my timid spirit.  It’s just shot!

This mama ain’t no squish. Her second name
Sounds like a rectal probe that really hurts.
She plays a pointed and a ruthless game
When pals like Shea deliver such alerts.
Stomping the opposition is her aim.
How eagerly he hides behind her skirts!


—Tom Riley

Under Compulsion

Under Compulsion



(for B.M.)



You have to listen to the blowhard’s talk
Because the bishop thinks he’s A-okay.
Although you feel the forceful urge to walk,
You have to listen to the blowhard’s talk.
The bishop doesn’t waver if you balk.
Loud idiocy has to rule the day.
You have to listen to the blowhard’s talk—
Because the bishop thinks he’s A-okay.



–Tom Riley

De Patricio Romae Sancto

De Patricio Romae Sancto




“He wasn’t even Irish.”




Patrick, you wop, we take you as our saint–

As we have taken Rome to rule our prayers.

One of us, critics might object, you ain’t–

But we don’t let such Saxons put on airs

Toward us: we send them homeward for repairs.

A dago you may be — but you are ours.

And, since you guide our heavenly affairs,

We know our Enemy, the Devil, cowers.

Oh, dash aside his superhuman powers —

And kick him soundly when he turns to flee!

Your heart is human, but your crosier towers

Over that dark, demonic entity.

For one day, make his hurtful actions cease–

That we may raise our drinks to you in peace.






–Tom Riley




(Just a note on the ethnicity of St. Patrick:


A priest I know once said of St. Patrick, during a homily on the saint’s glorious green feast day: “He wasn’t even Irish.  He was probably English….”


I’ve never been so tempted to interrupt a homily.  Indeed, I’m sorry now that I didn’t interrupt.


The statement that St. Patrick was “probably English” was mixed up with all sorts of stuff about the vanity of wearin’ the green and so on.  I was, of course, wearing green when I heard the homily.


The priest had an English name – and I later remarked to him that there was a day when people with names like mine were hung up on trees for wearin’ the green by people with names like his.


The priest in question is generally an admirable and learned man – indeed, one of the finest clergymen I have ever known.  He once corrected an error of mine concerning St. Thomas Becket.  I was suitably chastened.


However, to suggest that St. Patrick was an Englishman by birth is to commit a blunder of stunning proportions.  St. Patrick could not have been an Englishman.


The English – that is, the Germanic – invasion of Britain began around A.D. 400 in the southeast of the Island.  Patrick was born in the west around 387, thirteen years before the Saxon incursion.  Moreover, Patrick was born into a Christian family – and the English did not begin to convert to Christianity till 597.  Remember that the “heathen” fought by King Arthur were, in fact, the English.


The region of Britain where Patrick was born remained almost completely Celtic, and not English, till about 600.


So if he wasn’t English, what was he?


Patrick was a man of Roman culture, certainly, and I admit the probability that he was a Celt – what nowadays we would call a Welshman.


Much more attractive, however, is the possibility – and it is a real possibility – that Patrick was Italian, the descendant of Roman colonists in Britain, of whom there was at one time a great number.


I find this idea attractive because of the traditional hostility in America, still present to some degree in my childhood, between Irishmen and Italians.  I sometimes get the idea that I understand God’s sense of humor – and, according to my lights, this is just the sort of joke that makes God chuckle.  Ha!  The traditional Patron Saint of Ireland is really a dago!  Hence, the poem.


I say nothing here about theories that St. Patrick as popularly conceived is a composite figure, a conflation of someone actually named Patricius with a less-known someone named Palladius.  I don’t discount such theories: I simply have no interest in them.


I do say that we have certain knowledge of St. Patrick’s ethnicity – the ethnicity that St. Patrick chose, which is the ethnicity that really matters.


St. Patrick was Irish.


So there.  T.R.)