Flammeus Gladius

Carmina et Verba pro Discipulis Meis

Tag: Christ





(for Karen Swallow Prior)



When godliness indeed meant cleanliness,
the godly proudly washed in temple pools.
Their need to wash they hastened to confess–
and it was taught in many godly schools.
Not so with scoundrels, profligates, and fools:
these were the creatures of dishonest scents.
They violated all the godly rules
and then relied on perfumes as events
proceeded from transgression. How immense
their self-deception was in those dark days!
Still, in the end, transcendence proved intense:
Christ shed his blood for those who walked this maze
–and, hardly mindful of aloof commands,
sly Pontius Pilate washed his bloody hands.



–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