Flammeus Gladius

Carmina et Verba pro Discipulis Meis

Tag: Soviet Union

Holy Mother Russia Day

Holy Mother Russia Day

I failed you, Mother Russia, yesterday.
I failed indeed to greet you as a mother.
Should I of my regret make vain display—
Or is the right course altogether other?
Today too is a day to celebrate.
It’s the day you defeated the aggression
Directed at you by the Nazi state.
As Westerner, I here make full confession:
The West has not esteemed your sacrifice
Nor honored properly your sons and daughters—
But rather sought, and more than once or twice,
To foist upon you further grievous slaughters.
But me, I pray for victory anew
Over the fascists who would strangle you.

–Tom Riley

A Different Kind of Valentine

A Different Kind of Valentine

(for Mary)

Saints Cyril and Methodius were better.
No secular confusion now detracts
From what they did. The spirit and the letter
Are still intact, though intervening acts
And history’s interminable facts
Tortured the Christian flock in Slavic lands.
Did priests and bishops make unholy pacts
With Commies – and obey the wrong commands?
Da. Sure. Such failings, though, God understands
Better than we judgmental types admit.
Our wrath grows fierce, the product of our glands.
We try to take God’s view – but lack the wit.
Why am I going on so, anyway?
Happy Hearts-Chocolates-Roses-Romance Day!

14 February 2022


Tailgunner Joe

Tailgunner Joe

Had you no decency, Tailgunner Joe?
You wouldn’t leave our commie friends alone.
You didn’t blush to hear the leftists groan
About the way you dared to fight the foe.
Why on earth did the nation need to know
Where infiltrators were? The Great Unknown
Can be a comfort in the Twilight Zone—
And truth is frequently the cause of woe.
They cut you off and pushed you out of sight
At last. Your doggedness just couldn’t shatter
Those final obstacles, nor could your light
Reach shadows duly shielded. Even sadder,
When in the end we learned that you’d been right,
The pundits sneered and said it didn’t matter.

–Tom Riley

What’s Important

What’s Important



A plane shot down.  Obama, though, remains

Focused on what’s important to the nation

And to the world.  He’s fixed his brilliant brains

On raising funds for Democrats whose station

Is just a little shaky.  Brief oration—

Well, maybe forty seconds – on the grave

Tragedy.  Must steer clear of indignation.

Now on to stand-up comedy.  Great save!

To unforeseen events he doesn’t cave.

He must remake America – and shall.

If Dutchmen end up slaughtered, he won’t rave

As Ronald Reagan might have.  Be a pal:

Acknowledge that our leader’s voice rings loud—

A shout-out to the Bidens in the crowd.



–Tom Riley

Biters to Santorini

Biters to Santorini



(for Mainak Dhar)



In Santorini, where the vampires are,

Zombies have not inspired tremendous fear—

Until now.  Who’s arriving?  Mainak Dhar!

The homegrown monsters sense that he is here.

“What is this strange disturbance to our sphere?”

“Don’t you know?  It’s the guy who made them rise—

The Biters!  He’s the top imagineer

Of the age, scribe of tales both fierce and wise.

If he is here, we have to recognize

That Alice, spunky Queen of the Undead,

Is also on the island.  From her eyes,

No glamour can conceal us.  Flee instead!”

“I’m sure his mortal blood would taste just fine.”

“Don’t be a bonehead!  Leave him to his wine!”




–Tom Riley


O lector, nota, te amabo

Line 1:  Santorini is one of the Cyclades and is traditionally known in Greece as the place where vampires prowl.  In fact, a Greek idiom – translated as “vampires to Santorini” – corresponds to the English expression “coals to Newcastle.”

Line 7:  I’d love to take credit for the word “imagineer,” but in reality I stole it from Mark Millar’s graphic novel Red Son, where the infant Superman lands in Ukraine and becomes a Soviet superhero.    

Line 13:  I’m stretching the limits of folklore here: the Greek vampire rarely drinks blood.