Flammeus Gladius

Carmina et Verba pro Discipulis Meis

Tag: superheroes

National Supervillain Day

National Supervillain Day

 

 

(for Anna and Ben Hatke)

 

 

National Superhero Day: of course,
my first thought, Ben and Anna, was of you–
you in your realm of aureate resource;
you where you do what others cannot do;
you where you serve the good, without a clue
about my twisted kind, our motivations,
the inner agonies we struggle through,
our startling and unsettling transformations!
There is no day in any of the nations
that celebrates transcendent villainy–
and we would only curse such celebrations
in any case. What? Us? There’s only me,
eager now for a new scheme to begin–
except I know you heroes always win!

 

 

–Tom Riley

 

 

(April 28th is National Superhero Day.)

How to Draw a Hero

How to Draw a Hero

 

 

(for Ben Hatke)

 

 

Keep the lines clear — but don’t draw too many.
Heroes soar: you must not define any.
They are what they must be.
Of themselves they are free.
Specificity’s not worth a penny.

 

 

–Tom Riley

Hartfelt

Hartfelt

 

 

(for Ben Hatke)

 

 

Shot with a recurve, in the dark,
while you were hanging upside down,
the fateful arrow found its mark
and in those innards went to town–
and the hart fell. All due renown
devolves upon you, Facebook-wise.
And I, as bowman just a clown,
search for the language that applies.
Your truths excel our wildest lies
and make our trophies seem like toys.
Manly, you triumph in your tries,
inspiring lots of aging boys.
Let vast applause now fill your ears!
The spirit of the stag, sir, cheers.

 

 

–Tom Riley

Prelude to a Defeat

Prelude to a Defeat

 

 

(for Regina Phelps)

 

 

I missed your birthday, Supergirl. The weight
of villainhood was heavy on me then.
A list of petty evils was my fate,
none of them such that you, bright citizen
of solar skies, would need to fight me. When
that list was done, another list ensued.
To drudgery I had to say amen.
I reined in an expansive attitude.
But now it’s time our battles were renewed.
I’m planning to destabilize the space
in which all words exist. I know it’s rude–
but I so want to see your earnest face!
You have to stop me, right? The same old story:
defeated, I shall gaze upon your glory.

 

 

–Tom Riley

 

 

(Second place, Napa Town & Country Fair, 2015.)

Perfect Future Guy

Perfect Future Guy

 

 

Perfect Future Guy doesn’t need sleep.
He stands straight, doesn’t fall in a heap,
doesn’t snore, doesn’t dream.
His perfection’s extreme–
and it’s something our hero can keep.

 

 

–Tom Riley

Wonder Woman versus the Dark Lord of Stratego

Wonder Woman
versus
The Dark Lord of Stratego!

(for Emmylu Lopez)

When Wonder Woman soars back into town,
The ordinary crooks return to hiding.
Even if she wears heels and evening gown,
She’s always more than ready for colliding
With guys like that. The super-crooks, confiding
Only to robots, are not quite so clear.
The course they’ll choose requires some deft deciding.
Will they take flight – or slug it out right here?
But I in my reaction am sincere—
Despite my status as malicious brain.
I head to parties where you are, my dear.
My minions urge me on to fight in vain.
Victory? I don’t really give a damn.
I straighten out my necktie. Golly, ma’am!

Love,

Uncle Riley

15 December 2014

Rorschach

Rorschach

 

 

“It’s just so hard, reaching him. I mean, all this stuff, this horror and madness, he attracts it. It’s his world. This is where he lives, in this sordid, violent twilight zone, under this shadow.”

 

Under this shadow, here indeed he dwells.
An easy-going fellow he is not.
He’s calm surrounded by concentric hells.
Perspective is the only thing he’s got.
Surfaces, polished, don’t conceal the rot
from him. Beyond the show of things, he sees
the things themselves. He doesn’t have a lot
to say to them. He doesn’t strive to please.
And if, in consequent hostilities,
he ends up beaten by the brainy Veidt,
nevertheless, what’s strong in him agrees
to no conditions. Facing endless night,
he’s equal to the least-forgiving task.
When the bolt strikes, he casts aside his mask.

 

 

–Tom Riley

 

Hyperanthropus et Mater Sua

Hyperanthropus et Mater Sua

 

 

Superman and his mom were on my flight.

He himself was in toddler-sized disguise–

but, friends, there is a higher kind of sight

than that which passes only through the eyes.

I saw therewith the engines in the thighs

and shoulders, solar-powered yet powerful

beyond the power of mankind’s feeble tries.

I saw the diamond hardness of the skull.

Yes, I refused to be convention’s gull.

I looked a second time.  I saw anew

the bright red glow that blinking could not dull

behind those irises — and took the cue.

Superman and his mom were there that day.

He took a step.  I got out of his way.

 

 

–Tom Riley

Hot Plates of Justice

Hot Plates of Justice

 

 

(for Phil Thornton)

 

 

He’s serving justice – and he serves it hot.

He chuckles as he tracks you culprits down.

You think that you’re evading him?  You’re not.

 

We all have skills.  Our hero has a lot.

Justice to him is one substantial noun.

He’s serving justice.  And he serves it hot.

 

You shift feet and pretend that you forgot.

When he’s in town, this ain’t that kind of town.

You think that you’re evading him?  You’re not.

 

Your confidence is just infectious rot.

Your vague smile is the death smile of a clown.

He’s serving justice, and he serves it hot.

 

Your supply of deception is long shot.

Upon your brow, despair’s your only crown.

You think that you’re evading him?  You’re not.

 

You are already boiling in the pot.

You smile.  He smiles.  Your smile becomes a frown.

He’s serving justice – and he serves it hot.

You think that you’re evading him?  You’re not.

 

 

–Tom Riley

Henchbabe

Henchbabe

 

 

(for Colleen Carter Duncan)

 

 

You helped the supervillain with his plan?
Well, don’t let any heroes put you down!
Grayfox and Justice Lad and Hyperman—
They love to preach, but every one’s a clown
When he pretends to wear the martyr’s crown.
You know those guys all have endorsement deals:
They trade their smiling, dubious renown
For shekels. Every noble deed conceals
A motive slimy as a vat of eels.
But villains? They are charged with purity.
They turn aside from popular appeals
And do their twisted conscience earnestly.
They do what God, if he were mortal, would.
You helped the villain, did you? You done good!

 

 

Love,

T.R.

24 May 2014