The Thief and the Henchman

“This piece was written in the middle of my poetry workshop class—no literally right in the middle of it. It was one of those ones that demanded to exist right then and there, about a thief and a henchman stealing the very stars from the sky.”

By Devan Petersen


He decides to steal all the stars and keep them for ransom,

until the people below learn to love them right.

The thief and his henchman walk through rows of dark trees,

when the night sky is laden with silvery stars,

and between worn fingers he carries small knives—

the kind you fold up into nothing and hide in fabric folds.

Eventually the two reach a place

where the thief gestures for the henchman to stop.

Without saying a word the thief climbs onto his shoulders,

like a ladder to help him reach the top of the world.

He takes his knives while standing there,

stretches his arms high over his head

until his shoulders ache from reaching.

Carefully with great patience

he begins to cut around the black velvet holding a star

tears it free like ripping fabric,

the star in his hands.

One by one the others follow suit,

until the burlap sack is filled

to the brim with sadly singing starlight

and the sky above is lightless but for the moon.