top of page

i think i’m finally ready to admit that i don’t know the first thing about forgiveness

once i wandered in penance an oasis desolate as an ocean

cleared by a storm the only souls still around a small band of ghosts

who stretched their legs on a sunless veranda rattling a tune

with jars full of teeth i plucked petals off pale tulips

heard the same song in she loves me not

& can this kill me

for years i’d steal every vessel from its siren

pick the matchwood out of my throat with fingernails thick

as nickels i made no distinction between powder that soothes

a baby’s gums & powder that puts down tameless broncos

when i tottered into detox the intake nurse didn’t bother

to swallow her awe with a heartbeat like that, it’s a miracle

you’re still alive

it’s no wonder i see desire

the way it looks in cartoons hyenas walk upright as charmed

as you or i by a parrot’s speech coyotes with tongues like runways

never catch their prey & nobody starves even pigeons dumb

with hunger barrel into glass & get rewarded

with crowns full of stars

in lieu of apologies i’ve learned to sing

a sound so solemn passing strangers stop to leave spare pennies

on my eyes but the birds just crane their necks & peck themselves

godless pavement flecked with little red florets the heart pumps & pumps


ANTHONY THOMAS LOMBARDI (he/him) is a Pushcart-nominated poet, organizer, activist, and educator. He is the founder and director of Word is Bond, a community-centered reading series that raises funds for transnational relief efforts and mutual aid organizations, and currently serves as a poetry editor for Sundog Lit. A recipient of the Poetry Project’s Emerge-Surface-Be Fellowship, his work has appeared or will soon in Guernica, Gulf Coast, The Journal, Colorado Review, North American Review, and elsewhere. He lives in Brooklyn with his cat, Dilla.


bottom of page