Flammeus Gladius

Carmina et Verba pro Discipulis Meis

Tag: Napa

Ghost Town

Ghost Town

Napa’s a ghost town now, rich in despair.
We bicker over endless pettiness.
And why? Marissa Amador’s not there.

To like this place indeed I used to dare.
I look around today and it’s a mess.
Napa’s a ghost town! Now, rich in despair,

I shake my helpless fist in haunted air.
The vineyards? They impress me less and less.
And why? Marissa Amador’s not there.

She hauled up stakes and sought another lair.
She’s pitched her tent in Idaho. I guess
Napa’s a ghost town now, rich in despair

And far beyond the region of repair.
Weeds root in psychic gardens – to excess.
And why? Marissa Amador’s not there!

Ulysses had Minerva? I’m aware.
My lack of such a goddess I confess.
Napa’s a ghost town now, rich in despair.
And why? Marissa Amador’s not there.

Happy birthday!


30 September 2022

Mike Thompson and the Gals

Mike Thompson and the Gals

Mike Thompson and the gals are working hard
To guarantee our feticidal fun.
Against those fetus-lovers Mike’s on guard.
He’ll frustrate the designs of anyone
Who doesn’t love abortion. As the Sun
Crosses the Heavens in a chariot,
So Mike will ride until the job is done,
Employing all his strength and all his wit.
Around him are his planets… Muses…. Shit,
I don’t know what to call them, but they’re there.
With feminazi fire their hearts are lit.
By slaughtering the young, they show they care.
For disarticulation they parade.
They’re grieving for their idol, Roe v. Wade.

–Tom Riley

La Ciudad Chicana

La Ciudad Chicana

(for Alejandro Oropeza)

More than half of my town is Latino.
My significance? Like a neutrino!
Am I worrying? Not.
I like Mexes a lot—
Though Italians produce better vino.

–Tom Riley

It’s Still Standing

It’s Still Standing


Breakfast today at Mickey D’s—
And there are firemen everywhere.
This early, I ain’t hard to please:
Breakfast today at Mickey D’s!
And everywhere, relaxed, at ease,
Heroes sip coffee. I don’t stare.
Breakfast today at Mickey D’s—
And there are firemen everywhere.


—Tom Riley




The righteous Moser now composes prayers.
He is a satirist we must admire.
At Donald Trump’s deficiencies he stares—
Then utters forth ferocious lines of fire
While strumming on a cool stylistic lyre.
Amongst the vast Resistance, he’s the best—
And of his genius we can never tire.
Or anyhow, that’s how he sees his quest.
It can’t be my place, people, to suggest
That Moser is as bright as swamp-soaked shit,
That, in the role of critic, he’s a pest
And furthermore a fucking hypocrite.
Therefore, that’s something I decline to do.
I leave such damning judgments up to you.


—Tom Riley


(Paul Moser, Napa’s Leader of the Resistance, composes a prayer.)

Seeing Rachel

Seeing Rachel



(for Rachel Bailey)



Rachel lives in the land of microbrews–
and here I linger, drinking cheap boxed wine.
Balloons rise in the morning, rainbow clues
to sunny lives that really can’t be mine.
The limits that we breezily define
grow into walls that Trump would celebrate,
praising their altitude. Groans form a line.
It is the line, and not the groans, I hate.
Seeing that girl again, of course, was great.
Oh, it was even better than champagne!
But I know chance on sight: it isn’t fate.
The aging heart relies on chance in vain.
When we meet next, it won’t be soon enough.
I turn therefore to stronger drinking stuff.



–Tom Riley

Napa Morning

Napa Morning



Balloons float overhead,
helpless before some predator that
hasn’t evolved yet.



–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

Sine Custode

Sine Custode




(for A.K.)




Napa’s now a more dangerous sphere

Of existence: we shiver in fear

     At least half of the time.

     Who will fight all the crime?

Our Incredible Hulk isn’t here!





–Tom Riley

Outlaw Julie Brumley

The Outlaw Julie Brumley





I saw you clearly – and your hair was dark.

I saw you: you were slender as a sword.

The general effect was stern and stark.

I cannot say the audience was bored.

More words perhaps than I can now afford

I mean to spend on educated you.

Against my Sabbath’s dull routines you warred—

Without, I’m pretty sure, quite meaning to.

Go off and learn what clever students do.

I’ll stay in Napa, drink my wine, be old.

To me, you’re not the sonnet’s only cue.

Still, my perceptions cannot go untold.

The Martian War again, you said, you’ve fought.

I pray that reading built on what I taught.





–Tom Riley