Flammeus Gladius

Carmina et Verba pro Discipulis Meis

Tag: Macbeth

Is This a Dagger that She Sees Before Her?

Is This a Dagger that She Sees Before Her?

Liz perceives truths with vision ethereal
As she dreams of a future imperial.
Did she get her ass kicked?
Then success she’ll predict!
She is now presidential material!

–Tom Riley

Witches in the Wilderness

Witches in the Wilderness

“If you meet witches in the wilderness,
Don’t listen!” But of course we always do.
Our ordered lives are really just a mess.
Though victory smells fresh, we need a cue
To further action. Then they come in view,
Their more-than-mortal knowledge evident.
The future is what all hearts must pursue—
And guidance isn’t always Heaven-sent.
The nascent king did not know what they meant?
Oh, yes, he did. He knew he’d pay a price—
But rushed on to embrace the dark event.
That other witch, his mate, had more advice
To strengthen resolution, more or less.
Sometimes we can’t escape the wilderness.

–Tom Riley

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Know the Future

Know the Future


It’s the future you’re aching to know?
We’ll reveal it to you in a show
Of infernal excess.
You’re on board, right? Say yes!
Your enslavement ensues — and not slow.


—Tom Riley




They probed his wounded judgment in the waste—
And found it wanting, as they knew they would.
How swiftly righteous pride defects from good!
Toward sheer destruction it proceeds with haste
After you give it just a little taste.
In its soliloquies both could and should
Figure immensely. In its neighborhood
Are faceless neighbors, never to be faced.
Temptresses they were not — not in the sense
Reserved in common speech for words that glitter.
Their every exhalation gave offense.
Their every stab at sweetness turned out bitter.
Nevertheless, he panted for events
That they delivered like a she-wolf’s litter.


—Tom Riley





Hamlet’s mother
and Lady Macbeth:
neither saw the impolitic ghost.

Gentlemen, be assured:
if you live, if you die,
women pay
no attention to you.



–Tom Riley

Double, Double

Double, Double



Witch’s double appeared. Hey, who knew
that she had one? Her cover-up crew
must have made some mistake.
Still, the double would make
a more likeable president, too.



–Tom Riley

Ring of Power

Ring of Power



(for Grace Cortright)



My love, cling fiercely to your Ring of Power—

And don’t let wizards talk you out of it!

Halflings may take effete advice and cower—

But, on your hand, the Ring should be a hit

Forever.  You don’t need your strength and wit

Enhanced?  That’s true – but lots of things are true.

In place of the Dark Lord, a Queen would fit—

And who’s a better candidate than you?

List all your enemies – then do and do

And do!  When they are wailing, I shall cheer.

About your wrath they need to get a clue

That they may have a proper sense of fear.

Yeah, yeah: you’ll turn to evil – but I smile

When I imagine your malicious style.






–Tom Riley

Macbeth and Wife

Macbeth and Wife


“And be these juggling fiends no more believ’d,
That palter with us in a double sense;
That keep the word of promise to our ear,
And break it to our hope….”

They thought advice would help them master time.

They thought command would help them conquer fate.

The three uncanny sisters’ yen to rhyme

Made double-subtle sayings resonate

With bogus clarity.  Rather than wait

And see these bright predictions face the test,

The two conspirators, meant to be great,

Erred greatly in the way they judged was best.

She summoned hateful spirits to her breast

And gave suck to a brood of empty acts.

He murdered sleep – and knew at last no rest.

He learned on his last day the baleful facts.

And, after she was dead and all was known,

He faced the words he’d trusted in alone.



–Tom Riley

Terms of Salvation

Terms of Salvation



And damn’d be him that first cries, ‘Hold, enough!’





He well defined the terms of his salvation,

The deadly terms of his damnation, too.

In the face of prophetic  refutation,

He would press on, as once he used to do

Against the foes of Duncan.  So they knew

The future, did they, those three hags who lied

Even as they spoke true?  Given their cue,

The words that really couldn’t be denied,

He wouldn’t yield.  The glory he had eyed

From under his abundant flaming hair

Was vanished – and the witches, satisfied,

Joined Macduff as they urged king to despair

And pelted him with scraps of their foul art.

He kept a manly, though a wicked, heart.



–Tom Riley