The End of the Trail by Bonnie Parker

This week on the Deb Ball we’re writing about jobs, hobbies, or trips that connect to our books.

While I haven’t written many poems recently, back in my youth it was something I did frequently. It was a way for me to express myself, a way to let out emotions, a way to understand something that was happening to (or around) me.

After the death of my first grandparent, I sat down to write a poem as a way to console myself. I wish I could find the poem I wrote, and later read at my grandfather’s funeral, but it’s probably tucked in some corner of my parents’ attic. But there’s a snippet of the poem that alway seems to be tucked away in the corner of my mind: His arms and legs, once a jungle gym, were replaced by a cold metal chair.

Writing poems is something that I have in common with my protagonist in BECOMING BONNIE. In real life, and in my novel, Bonnie has a way with words. She loves poetry, often turning to it while sorting out her mind.

Here is an actual poem she wrote, titled The End of the Trail.

The title of the poem speaks for itself, especially since Bonnie wrote it about a month prior to her death.

You’ve read the story of Jesse James
of how he lived and died.
If you’re still in need;
of something to read,
here’s the story of Bonnie and Clyde.

Now Bonnie and Clyde are the Barrow gang
I’m sure you all have read.
how they rob and steal;
and those who squeal,
are usually found dying or dead

There’s lots of untruths to these write-ups;
they’re not as ruthless as that.
their nature is raw;
they hate all the law,
the stool pidgeons, spotters and rats.

They call them cold-blooded killers
they say they are heartless and mean.
But I say this with pride
that I once knew Clyde,
when he was honest and upright and clean.

But the law fooled around;
kept taking him down,
and locking him up in a cell.
Till he said to me;
“I’ll never be free,
so I’ll meet a few of them in hell”

The road was so dimly lighted
there were no highway signs to guide.
But they made up their minds;
if all roads were blind,
they wouldn’t give up till they died.

The road gets dimmer and dimmer
sometimes you can hardly see.
But it’s fight man to man
and do all you can,
for they know they can never be free.

From heart-break some people have suffered
from weariness some people have died.
But take it all in all;
our troubles are small,
till we get like Bonnie and Clyde.

If a policeman is killed in Dallas
and they have no clue or guide.
If they can’t find a fiend,
they just wipe their slate clean
and hang it on Bonnie and Clyde.

There’s two crimes committed in America
not accredited to the Barrow mob.
They had no hand;
in the kidnap demand,
nor the Kansas City Depot job.

A newsboy once said to his buddy;
“I wish old Clyde would get jumped.
In these awfull hard times;
we’d make a few dimes,
if five or six cops would get bumped”

The police haven’t got the report yet
but Clyde called me up today.
He said,”Don’t start any fights;
we aren’t working nights,
we’re joining the NRA.”

From Irving to West Dallas viaduct
is known as the Great Divide.
Where the women are kin;
and the men are men,
and they won’t “stool” on Bonnie and Clyde.

If they try to act like citizens
and rent them a nice little flat.
About the third night;
they’re invited to fight,
by a sub-gun’s rat-tat-tat.

They don’t think they’re too smart or desperate
they know that the law always wins.
They’ve been shot at before;
but they do not ignore,
that death is the wages of sin.

Some day they’ll go down together
they’ll bury them side by side.
To few it’ll be grief,
to the law a relief
but it’s death for Bonnie and Clyde.

I found this poem intriguing at the onset of my research into Bonnie and Clyde. Then, after months of research and after having a better understanding of Bonnie and Clyde’s spree, I found it even more intriguing — but also sad — that Bonnie saw the writing on the wall, even creating a suicide pact with Clyde.

In no way do I condone the loss of lives that occurred while the duo were on the run, but I can see why Bonnie wanted to tell her side of the story within this poem. While Clyde horribly took lives, Bonnie never killed anyone. A number of crimes/murders were also placed on them that they never committed. Like today, the media perpetrated so much, including how Bonnie and Clyde were notorious bank robbers, though they rarely robbed banks. Great stories sold newspapers. I found anecdotes of them returning the car they “borrowed” and, in other cases, giving their hostages money when releasing them unharmed. I also read how Bonnie despised the photo (above) that depicted her with a cigar. The photo was snapped as a joke, Bonnie holding the cigar of W.D. Jones, who took the photo, and playfully putting his cigar in her mouth. She later felt the need to write to newspapers to insist that she didn’t smoke cigars.

Bonnie’s poem, along with these interesting historical tidbits, have been great fodder as I tinker with a potential sequel to BECOMING BONNIE in my mind. Maybe I’ll have to write a poem to wrap my head around how I could tell The End of the Trail in my own words.

 

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Jenni L. Walsh spent her early years ​chasing around cats, dogs, and chickens in Philadelphia's countryside, before dividing time between a soccer field and a classroom at Villanova University. She put her marketing degree to good use as an advertising copywriter, zip-code hopping with her husband to DC, NYC, NJ, and not surprisingly, back to Philly. There, Jenni's passion for words continued, adding author to her resume. She now balances her laptop with a kid on each hip, and a four-legged child at her feet. BECOMING BONNIE (Tor Forge/Macmillan, 5/9/2017) is her debut novel that tells the untold story of how church-going Bonnelyn Parker becomes half of the infamous Bonnie and Clyde duo during the 1920s. SIDE BY SIDE, telling Bonnie and Clyde's crime spree story, will be released in the summer of 2018. Please learn more about Jenni's books at jennilwalsh.com.

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