Flammeus Gladius

Carmina et Verba pro Discipulis Meis

Tag: vineyards

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

Napa Valley Heat Wave Sacrificial Urge

Napa Valley Heat Wave Sacrificial Urge

Sun above vineyards:
for cooler mornings, I’d almost
give up wine.

–Tom Riley





The raven sitting on the vineyard fence
Brings wisdom from a distant deity.

“Does the world have it in for you and me?”

Not really, says the One-Eyed God. Events
Proceed with an indifference so immense
That mortals welcome frank hostility.
It’s a gift they will never truly see.
They fool themselves, and that’s their recompense.

“Does every raven answer just the same?”

My fellow, with a semblance of design,
Declares the opposite. It’s not our aim
To force consistency on the divine.
In evenhandedness there is no shame.
Now quit your questions. Have a glass of wine.



–Tom Riley



(First Place, Napa Town and Country Fair, 2017.)

Omne Vinum Terra Est

Omne Vinum Terra Est




Wine was once earth, and earth is rich as wine.

Laborers in the vineyard understand

This truth, whose limits no tongue can define.

Made wine, the earth is ready to command

The hearts and hands that altered it.  Though planned,

The alteration never quite submits

To labeling.  Earth doesn’t need a brand.

It’s matter, but it gives the spirit fits.

Indeed, indeed, the craftsman bends his wits

Toward making something vastly satisfying

Yet subtle.  When he scores his greatest hits,

He knows a pride that lies beyond denying.

He also knows the rush that never lies,

The taster’s thrill, the spark of sheer surprise.




–Tom Riley



(Won First Place and Best in Division in the Napa Town and Country Fair competition, 2013.)

Influx of Skunks

An Influx of Skunks





Sometime in Spring, the male skunks cross the road

That separates the vineyards to the east

From my own property – and half explode,

For manmade tire is stronger than foul beast.

This year, I’m sure, the march of skunks increased.

For weeks, I smelled the corpses out in front.

The morning nose enjoys the same rich feast

Whether the skunk’s a giant or a runt.

A skunk’s not game the canny plan to hunt.

He likely thinks that cars should fear his scent.

He likely thinks a truck’s not worth a grunt.

He grunts, though, when the truck will not relent.

Crushed skunks smell worst.  I call Spring’s passage thus

Survival of the least malodorous.




–Tom Riley


(Won Fourth Place in the Napa Town and Country Fair competition, 2013.)