Flammeus Gladius

Carmina et Verba pro Discipulis Meis

Tag: Clark Kent

Secret Identity

Secret Identity


There was once a young hero named Clark.
“I shall share my Kryptonian spark!”
he resolved as a lad.
“Revelation is bad,”
said his parents. “Keep folks in the dark!”



–Tom Riley

De Cervicibus Kryptonianis

De Cervicibus Kryptonianis




(for Larry Maxson)





Only Kryptonians can break the necks

Of other damn Kryptonians – like Zod.

A furious Tyrannosaurus rex

Could never even make Zod shrug – or nod.

No, a Kryptonian is not a god—

But, when it comes to scrapping, he is better.

It’s hard to hurt his solar-powered bod.

You’ll note how thoroughly he fills his sweater.

At super speed, he’s more than a go-getter:

He goes and gets and goes and gets and goes

More times than you can count.  Solve for the letter

“K” and you’ll get an answer no geek knows.

That’s why I’m glad that Clark said what-the-heck

And broke the general’s bull-stubborn neck.





–Tom Riley





(for Regina Phelps)



Hey, Supergirl, I recognized your face

The way that no one ever recognizes

Your cousin Clark’s.  It came to me like grace—

Or other bright, superior surprises.

We buy enlightenment in different sizes—

But, when it comes as gift, we have to take

The size we’re offered.  Seeing through disguises,

We’re stunned to soothe a constant inner ache.

Wow!  It was you!  My insight came awake:

That babe could crush your skull between two fingers!

Excitement vast enough to form a lake

Rained down on me – and some of it still lingers.

You don’t crush skulls, I know: you’re kind and good.

Still, it’s a thrill to recognize you could.



–Tom Riley

Sex and the Superman

Sex and the Superman




In Man of Steel, there’s very little sex.

Somebody messes with a waitress?  Clark

Stops it, disguised as Wimposaurus rex.

After that, there’s no lusting fierce and dark.

The villain is a sort of programmed shark

Who kills us flimsy folk to serve his own.

Lois and Superman do share a spark—

But never far beyond the comfort zone.

O sages of the silver screen, the lone

Hero can be a fascinating sight!

Omissions may make Flynt and Hefner groan—

But in that vacuum I perceive a light.

Women of Kleenex, dread that man of steel!

From such a broken heart, you may not heal.



–Tom Riley






(for Maria and Kevin Klassen)




Are you living where Superman grew?

Though the landscape is flat, lucky you!

     Summer stretches.  Corn grows.

     You can take it, God knows.

You are part of a glorious crew!






–Tom Riley

Real Thing

The Real Thing




(for Matt Thornton)





Henry Cavill makes quite a Superman.

I once shook hands, though, with the genuine

And superhuman article.  My plan

Was unformed, but I wore a cocky grin

And challenged the serene Kryptonian

To a test of sheer strength.  The thunder rolled—

And he could destroy worlds let me win.

My victory, though false, was bright as gold.

I shall remember it while growing old.

Such fictions, fans, enable us to live.

Shamefully stupid, I was proudly bold.

From fact I may have been a fugitive—

But, after he had winced, he shrugged and smiled,

Happy to see me victor, though self-styled.





–Tom Riley







Nobody wants to mess with Superbrat—

And only Clark can really manage it.

She wants her little way in nothing flat.

Clark counsels patience: Kara throws a fit.

And Terran kids?  They make her want to spit.

She’s wary of their sheer fragility.

Into their little cliques she doesn’t fit.

Nobody, she complains, is friends with me!

Someday she’ll learn that no one’s flying free,

That cousin Clark, who’s always smiling wide,

Is laden with responsibility

From which not even Superspeed can hide.

With many fans, I’m waiting for the day.

Until then, I’ll stay out of Kara’s way.





–Tom Riley




Superman versus Batman

Superman v. Batman




(for Grace Cortright)




It’s clear that Batman is the better man—

For Superman is not a man at all.

I labor to explain this when I can—

But, when it comes to Grace, truth hits a wall

It can’t knock down.  Like Spiderman, I crawl

Upward.  I shall surmount this falsehood yet!

But, as I climb, the wall that started tall

Grows stratospheric, infinite.  I’ve set

My purpose firm.  I’m certain I have met

The burden of convincing argument.

Yet finally I find I’ve lost my bet—

For Grace rejects my works, withholds assent.

Down from that wall I fall right on my face.

(I only take this kind of crap from Grace.)





–Tom Riley




(for Ben Hatke)


The alien who comes from ocean deeps

Is far more distant than the one who came

From Krypton.  Where the Kraken waits and sleeps,

The Sea King is at home – and whales proclaim

His chilling glory.  Think you know his name?

You know it not who hear it on the air.

An ancient strength, impossible to tame

Has made his heart its own forbidden lair.

Work out his motivations if you dare.

Remember, though, that he can breathe through gills.

Remember that his hope is your despair.

What the Flood promised, he in truth fulfills.

There is no doubting that he serves the good—

But are you in his moral neighborhood?


–Tom Riley


(http://letflythecannons.blogspot.com/2012/11/journal-comics-jl-sketchbook-and-more.html )


Johnny and the Monster

Johnny and the Monster



(for Ben Hatke)



Even Supes seems to play at being hero—

So Johnny’s free to see this stuff as fun.

Last of your kind is pretty close to zero

In the delight department.  Anyone

Would seek some other option, try to run

Some other course – so Johnny’s now the Child

With Gnarly Powers.  He has drawn the sun

Closer: his daily climate’s almost mild.

But, when the unexpected gets him riled,

When criminals won’t play, as he plays, fair,

When affront on affront is rudely piled,

Why, then you’ll find a monster waiting there—

Which the perceptive Batman ought to see

As that which Johnny’s chosen not to be.



–Tom Riley


(http://letflythecannons.blogspot.com/2012/11/the-child-stranger.html )