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.