Flammeus Gladius

Carmina et Verba pro Discipulis Meis

Tag: prognostication

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

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