Benjamin Bickerstaff: bad to the bone

 

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Benjamin F. Bickerstaff,

better known as “Ben,”

got his start in Sulphur Springs in the Lone Star State.

When the Civil War commenced,

Ben’s kind were incensed

ta’ find out killin’ was their fate.

With well-trained guerrillas

Ben killed the blue-coat fella’s,

an’ found he didn’t mind at all.

So come the end of the war,

with a chance ta’ be poor,

he chose instead ta’ be an outlaw.

He went back ta’ Sulphur Springs

ta’ do his dirty things,

cuz’ he reckoned local folk would protect him.

They were rebel sympathizers,

blue-belly despisers,

an’ would never back a Yankee on a whim.

When Ben met a freed slave

he sent him ta’ the grave,

an’ cared not a bit who knew the fact.

He rounded up near twenty men

ta’ raid supply depots of the Union:

no wish ta’ defend… he chose ta’ attack.

In fair weather or muck an’ mud

they’d steal the wares an’ spill the blood:

they were an itch the Yankees couldn’t scratch.

Losses put the Yanks out of sorts,

so they built-up several forts,

with three full companies ta’ help with the catch.

The local folk stayed mum,

or simply acted dumb,

many were convinced Ben was a hero.

They thought he fought a cause,

an’ gave him their applause,

until they found out Ben was just a zero.

When Yankee pickin’s got harder

he considered himself smarter,

an’ took his gang ta’ the town of Alvarado.

He figured that the bounty

taken from a different county

would not cause local favoritism ta’ go.

He didn’t take into account

when they charged in on their mounts

that the folks in Alvarado had a say.

The citizens were warned,

an’ they came out fully armed,

an’ several rebels bit the dust that day.

He had conned the local folk,

since his “cause” was just a joke,

he had always been in it strictly for the money.

But the locals came out smilin’

when Bickerstaff’s riff-raff were dyin’:

somethin’ they were told sounded funny.

Ben’s criminal prank

was met point-blank,

the blast nearly took off his head.

Double-ought buck ta’ the face

ended Ben’s life in disgrace,

an’ the locals were glad he was dead.

 

© JW Thomas

 

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Mary Bell liked to kill

 

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In merry old England, in the spring of sixty-eight

There was a girl named Mary Bell that fed on hate

At the ripe old age of eleven

She sent two little boys to heaven

Plus five failed attempts left the little bitch irate

 

Mary even choked her accomplice Norma Bell: not related

A girl dumb enough to still hang with Mary in acts ill-fated

But she took her chance to squeal

After cutting herself a deal

So Mary was locked up with Norma free, but now hated

 

Despite signs of mutilation the court convicts of manslaughter

“Eye-for-an-eye” is out the window when it’s someone’s daughter

The last of her brief fame

A three day escape game

When she gave up her virginity, and spoke of blood flowing like water

Black Elk Speaks

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The biographical text indeed has a poetic flare (though not entirely) to it that comes across from the introduction onward, and can be seen in both Black Elk and John Neihardt’s speech and writing. For instance, Neihardt writes the following:

“Little else but weather ever happened in that country – other than the sun and moon and stars going over – and there was little for the old man to do but wait for yesterday (p.xxiii).”

 

And Black Elk’s normal manner of speech sings with the aged simplicity of wisdom and the colorful style of the long ago Indian, as seen in the following passages:

“What I know was given to me for men and it is true and it is beautiful. Soon I shall be under the grass and it will be lost (p.xxv).”

“I was born in the Moon of the Popping Trees on the Little Powder River in the Winter When the Four Crows Were Killed (p.7).” Continue reading

A steer branded Murder

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Gilliland feuded with Henry Harrison Powe

And one day they decided to go toe-to-toe

Powe went to Boot Hill

Cowboys say, “A clean kill”

And the steer with the brand tells the law what they know

 

A steer with the “Murder” brand

For years did wander the land

An odd Texas mystery

But true to its history

When a posse of Rangers killed Fine Gilliland

JW Thomas ©