Amnesty Week by R.J. Lambert

Amnesty Week | R.J. Lambert

Blizzards in July. 
Or was it June? Soon 
the sun would glaze 

our snowflaked 
lashes, eyelids like little crowns 
peering down upon 

the unmanicured grounds. 
(Our lakeside trailer lot.) 
In fairness, my inner child 

could in no way 
have observed to manicure 
as a landscape verb. 

I’ve thought a lot 
on what to do, 
contingency to 

prevent resale. Set it all 
on fire or drag it off. 
Doors locked, the foil 

in one side window 
like a silver tooth 
flashing a worthless grin. 

I swear, all the houses 
in that town 
look like an old man 

bent over, praying. 
One might have thought 
electrical & heat were on. 

No water, dry pipes, 
some human urine 
in the yard. 

The thing nobody knows 
is that a hoarder’s house 
is mostly mail, 

pages from magazines, 
old workout machines. 
Movies seem fake, 

like it would take 
a mental break, 
a bottle & a half 

of some off-label pills, 
a line of coke. 
No joke, it only took 

a childhood in the church. 
My grandma cutting 
naked women’s bodies 

from an art textbook. 
These days, the temptation 
of Christ might just be 

like you & me: 
not getting ourselves up, 
poor at picking up after, 

failing to put things right 
back. The picked-over library 
shelves are sharp like Jesus’ 

rib cage, its hinges showing 
through the artificial brown grain. 
Received another email 

& dates are overdue: 
It’s amnesty: return your books 
today for free.


About the Author:

R.J. Lambert (he/him) is a queer writer, editor, and teacher based in Charleston, South Carolina. Surviving the 1999 Columbine High School shootings fostered his interest in the healing power of writing in response to individual and communal traumas, which he has explored through scholarly research, presentations, and poetry. Recent poems appear or are forthcoming in The Broadkill Review, The Main Street Rag, and Posit, as well as in his debut collection, Mind Lit in Neon (FLP, 2022). R.J. teaches science writing and health communication at the Medical University of South Carolina. Find him online at