Anthony Thomas Lombardi

the wolf will live with the lamb

it’s dark & i am listening & something
is listening to me. i don’t whimper. i cross

my chest & place my hands on the chopping
block but it’s my tongue God wants. i figured

this a decent compromise the way i pick
-pocket the prophets each time they fall

asleep mid-prayer. the right act of kindness
can be damning. consider the getaway car

posted outside a prison wall, the convict
christening each glint of barbed wire

while his driver gets hauled off below.
sweet victim of the siren, i too am a casualty

of my own invention, following every burn
mark for a place to keep warm. i ended up

on a tundra, the fire long past cinder, a single
wolf haloing the ashes with paws so worn

they didn’t leave spoors. i was barely old
enough to rust the first time i let a man

leave me bruised without his fingers finding
a fist. i still believed in war & my best sins

were before me: daily devotions in blackened
spoons, my mother’s pulse like a slow sad

song, forgetting his name by heart.
now i scour the geometry of spiderwebs

desperate for a single critter caught still
moving while he’s praying over prison food.

like any saint worth his sin or salt
i vanished. i have no faith in forgiveness

so it is the one thing that will bring me
to my knees, my cries for God sometimes

sharp enough to crack kindle on cold nights.
the wolf mostly ignores these good deeds

but once in a while she brings scraps & a wet
snout meant to say, i’ve decided, curious menace,

bless you. wolves only catch a paltry amount
of their prey, prepared better for famine

than feast. i know i shouldn’t be but i am
afraid. how selfish of me. where’s my prey?

where’s my prayer? like heartbeats
or mercy sooner or later we run out.

Anthony Thomas Lombardi is the author of Murmurations (YesYes Books, 2025), a Poetry Project 2021-2022 Emerge-Surface-Be Fellow, and a multiple Best of the Net and Pushcart Prize nominee, among other accolades. He has taught or continues to teach with Borough of Manhattan Community College, Paris College of Art, Brooklyn Poets, Polyphony Lit’s apprenticeship programs, community programming throughout New York City, and currently serves as a poetry editor for Sundog Lit. His work has appeared or will soon in the Poetry Foundation, Best New Poets, Guernica, Black Warrior Review, Narrative Magazine, and elsewhere. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and their two cats.