The Light Thieves

By Jonathan Louis Duckworth

Languedoc, France


One day the mayor of St-Siffret

orders every third lamppost snuffed:

bulbs removed, radiance plucked.

Every third light gone. At least on

the hill, where Belgian expats live.

The French in the valley can still

bask in unperforated incandescence,

& see the full bloom of night’s dark

from a safe distance. Why? The usual.

Ces conneries de budget.” Budget crap.

At the Marché Nocturne, my mother,

a proud Walloon at heart, turns

her face away from the mayor’s lips,

no kisses on the cheek—no pleasantries

for thieves. But what’s the use?

Her little acts of guerilla discourtesy

won’t bring the lights back to the hill.

I have a recurring dream.

There’s me, my brothers,

our cousins, all bearing saws & spades,

roving like a cloud through the dark,

we find an extinguished lamp, saw it,

then bear it over our heads, through

the garrigues, the wooded bowels

of the hills, to the plains of lavender

where we dig a hole, & plant the post.

Like a cutting, a propagule of a town,

it sprouts into a whole new village,

eaves & gables stippled with candles.


Jonathan Louis Duckworth is an MFA student at Florida International University and a reader for the Gulf Stream Magazine. His fiction, poetry, and non-fiction appears in or is forthcoming in New Ohio Review, Fourteen Hills, PANK Magazine, Literary Orphans, Cha, Superstition Review, and elsewhere