Flammeus Gladius

Carmina et Verba pro Discipulis Meis

Tag: December

Goodbye to Ghouls and Goblins

Goodbye to Ghouls and Goblins

“By that Heaven that bends above us—by that God we both adore—
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore….”

To say that I’m no longer in the mood
For Halloween would be, of course, a lie.
Darkness comes every night. My attitude
Adjusts. Folks, I don’t even have to try.
October passes, though. The ravens fly
Off to poor Poe’s December. Comprehend:
Such guys as I at last must say goodbye.
Halloween comes, like all things, to an end.
It tears my heart in half – but hearts do mend.
Thanksgiving is a prospect I abhor—
But I’ll give thanks, declining to offend
The God that birds and Poe and I adore.
Everything to its right and proper sphere.
(I can’t wait till October 1st next year!)

–Tom Riley

It Ain’t about Christmas

It Ain’t about Christmas

“The Raven” ain’t no Christmas narrative.
It is set in the bleak December, though.
Trapped in a world that he cannot forgive,
The Speaker lets his self-destruction grow
By asking questions that he ought to know
Will twist him into shapes of hopelessness.
The Raven’s simple answers, there for show,
Are, as the reader learns, not hard to guess.
Guy wants to hear his dark guest croaking yes.
Instead, it’s “nevermore” and “nevermore.”
Predictably, our man ends up a mess.
The Raven hangs around above the door.
Mournful remembrance, folks: that’s where it’s at.
Ha! Have a Happy New Year after that!

–Tom Riley



(Illustration by Gustave Doré.)

Temporal Displacement

Temporal Displacement

Guys, “The Raven” takes place in December,
Not on Halloween. Every crazed member
Of Poe’s fan club should know.
When you’re past feeling low,
When you’re lost in despair, please remember.

–Tom Riley

Lizard in December

A Lizard in December





I saw a lizard in December, friends:

My disappointment goes too deep to tell.

My love for creeping creatures never ends—

As those of you who know me know too well.

But in December?  That’s a real hard sell.

A lizard needs a temperature too high.

I guess I’m back in California hell.

Now I am one resentful Lockport guy.

When I was young, I never had to try

To feel the advent of the holiday.

The snow, as I recall, rose up chest high.

On Christmas Eve, I’d shovel half the day.

Now reptiles mock my loss cold-bloodedly:

That lizard grinned as he blinked up at me.





–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