Flammeus Gladius

Carmina et Verba pro Discipulis Meis

Tag: poets

Easy and Effortless Out

An Easy and Effortless Out

“Must I admire the poets of the past?”
Hey, only if you’re literate, my lad!
For those who aren’t, old epics vanish fast.
“Must I admire the poets of the past?”
In former times, a shining die was cast—
But please ignore the light, prefer the fad.
“Must I admire the poets of the past?”
Hey, only if you’re literate, my lad!

–Tom Riley

In Persona Poe

In Persona Poe

 

For Halloween, I dressed as Mr. Poe.
The Boston literati sneered at me
And called me “Jingle Man.” Implausibly,
They judged a soul beyond what they could know—
Or, anyhow, its image. Sure but slow,
In Europe critics rose to disagree
And poets imitated. You could see
My reputation now was sure to grow.
Here in my country, still the frauds abused
My art. Oh, yes: incredibly, they dared.
Latin America at last accused
Those liars by mere envy long impaired.
Hostility at last had been defused.
The sneering fools were well and truly scared.

 

–Tom Riley

Philosophy of Decomposition

The Philosophy of Decomposition

 

Yes, Poe died – and decayed. It is wise
To recall that most everyone dies
And decays, nose to toes.
But Poe’s critical foes?
They were rotting while still writing lies.

 

–Tom Riley

 

1855 engraving by Miner Kilbourne Kellogg

(Rufus Griswold)

Dark Bard

Dark Bard

 

(for Andrew Cooper)

 

Strong men blubbered like babies, undone
By his tales set to rhyme. Yes, the sun
Was put out in their hearts
By his unhallowed arts.
“Hey!” he told them. “For some, dark is fun!”

 

–Tom Riley

 

 

 

 

Spontaneous Overflow

Spontaneous Overflow

 

Poet felt he would shortly explode.

Inspiration, though unsought, abode.

Then he just had a fit.

“Hey, don’t call my stuff shit!

Those are feelings – and they overflowed.”

 

–Tom Riley

Another Confessional Poetess

Another Confessional Poetess

 

Shea says he’s writing verse because he’s “creaky.”
You’d think his inner grease would lubricate
That heart. But then, Shea’s claims are often cheeky.
His blimp-sized self he’s eager to inflate.
His therapeutic aim makes him a mate
To modern poetesses who confess.
Sylvia Plath may be his kind of great—
Or what he’s dimly aping, more or less.
Sylvia Plath I count as no success—
But I won’t let you piss on her, Mark Shea!
Her mind may well have been a sorry mess,
But she was not a fraud. You get away!
Your therapies should never see the light.
You need to stop pretending you can write.

 

—Tom Riley

Half Defined

Half Defined

 

 

Some take pride in a half-defined sonnet.
Me, I call the gods’ worst curse upon it.
If you take the loose path,
may you taste Delphic wrath!
If the robe doesn’t fit, then don’t don it.

 

 

–Tom Riley

A Cycle for Lara

A Cycle for Lara

 

 

The wolves howl
outside. He writes all that
will survive him.

 

 

–Tom Riley

Not Spock

Not Spock

 

 

(in memoriam Leonard Nimoy, d. 27 February 2015)

 

 

Yeah, yeah. I know. I read I Am Not Spock.
I read your artsy books of free verse, too.
I know that Vulcan never had a lock
on the identity we know as you.
You had so many busy things to do–
and did them, which I think is pretty rare.
Achievements? You had more than just a few.
I understand. I’m thoroughly aware.
But back to that old series I repair
like many in my geeky generation
whenever I require a breath of air
untainted by insistent complication.
There I appreciate your greatest work:
saving the universe with Captain Kirk.

 

 

–Tom Riley

De Poeta Majore

De Poeta Majore

 

 

Et in his omnibus inter nos et vos chaos magnum firmatum est : ut hi qui volunt hinc transire ad vos non possint neque inde huc transmeare.

 

–Luke 16:26.

 

 

When Dante looks across the Great Abyss

And sees you, he will want to add you in

As one who’s merited the Devil’s piss

For sixty-six varieties of sin

He never quite imagined.  He will win

The Lord’s permission – and proceed with zest.

After all, up there, where the heavens spin,

Poets all have enough time to invest.

Completion is up there no troubling quest:

It is a solemn duty and a joy.

And from fierce truth he need give you no rest.

In terza rima, you will suffer, boy!

While Dante rhymes ahead, I’ll look at you

And maybe write a limerick or two.

 

 

–Tom Riley