Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Ballad of Cordite Kate and the Honest Lawyer

The Ballad of Cordite Kate and the Honest Lawyer
attrib Bonnie Parker 1933

Now a lawyer's got to hear his client's story
As if the "gal" won't lie for her life
He's got to disregard the vain-glory,
Who drew first, or which hand held the knife.
His duty is to set the case wholesome
As it can be before jury's eyes
But a lawyer's a man, and to be bold, some,
Fell for her, without any damn lies.
Her name was Cordelia Harrow,
The papers called her "Cordite Kate,"
And the God who sees many a Sparrow
Fall, did not blink an eye at her fate.
She was rake thin from jail food, and lighter,
She had rung all the blood from her hands,
But her eyes were the eyes of a fighter,
In the last round, who just barely stands.
She told him the tale of her mockings,
She told him the tale of her flaws,
Though she stood but five, two in her stockings,
She'd looked down on, and trampled the laws.
She said, "The law is the stick of the rich man,
When he steals all the land of the poor,
It's illegal to steal what one bitch can,
Better she sells her soul, on the floor?
I never took none from the worthless,
I never bartered my own worth away,
If I ended up, locked up, and mirthless,
Well, the actress, just acts out the play.
I was raised in the dust of Wyoming,
Not sprung from the head of a Zeus,
Not hailed Athena for my knowing,
But I turned what I know to my use.
I came to the city with nothing,
That is, but five bucks, and my soul,
I saw my first man dead with no coffin,
When I was one thin dime from the hole.
By then I was one in a "gang" sir,
A sister to the band, not a "moll",
I never let off of a gun, sir,
Except p'rhaps to scatter the "pol"
We, went through the banks like a whirlwind,
We, went through the cash like a flame,
I was like a man, not a girlfriend,
And I drank, drink for drink to my shame,
But Mordeci Champion, loved me,
And Fair-Spoken George Malcolm, sighed "wife",
And Brash Colin Viel, carved above me,
While I slept, a great heart with his knife,
And tempers grew hotter, and hotter,
As to whether I'd fall and for whom,
Til Brash Viel who was scorned as a "rotter"
Pulled revolver on George in the room,
At the back of the "easy" on 9th Street,
And his shot, eased, Fair George to the tomb.
Mordeci, seeing Viel packin', what was in Chicago called "heat"
Threw a chair, that knocked Viel's gun from his hand
And a knife ended up, being thrown with a whoop,
And that was the end of the four as a band,
And me and Mordeci were deep in "the soup".
They kept us silent, lest we talk upon
Events and rehearse what to say,
And they hoped that I "crack up" and "squawk" upon
Mordeci, and he'd "squawk" upon me.
So "slick mr Lawyer" what's the outcome,
Though I love none, I'll not "split" on them so,
If I swear that Brash Viel shoot George Malcom
And George dying got one lucky throw.
Who's to say that Mordeci wasn't busy
Helping take a fly out of my eye?
God damn you, you need not look prissy,
I'd swear to more if I need to, this day."
I hated to tell her the story,
That Mordeci Champion, spun,
But if we've learned ought from history,
Its that the "rap" shakes the shit from the gun,
His version was that she'd shot Malcolm
For not being Fair-spoken to her,
And for seizing her waist in the transom,
And pressing his face, in her hair.
Further more, so he said, when she'd shot him
And Fair-Spoke' George Malcolm, was in hell,
She'd seen Brash Colin Viel, looking on all the while,
So she'd up and she'd knifed him as well.
She fixed me with one look of loathing,
And laughed and just laughed for a space,
And she said, "You poor fish in man's clothing,
Do you think with that look on your face,
You can come telling lies, that will move me,
Make me "squawk" upon better than you?
Let him say fire will not burn him, that he can breath under the sea
Let him claim in the court if he wants too
That the ocean is pink, and salt free
But that he say, what your saying,
That he would "pin" the rap upon me,
It's not the shape of his manners, no, baying
For blood, like a dog's, not his mark,
Of the four of us he was the best one,
He'd not let a "gal" down in the dark."
So it was, that the iron doors next morning,
Swung wide and we let him go free,
For he'd squawked like the birds at sun's dawning
And he'd bayed like a dog at her tree.
Now a lawyer's got to hear his client's story
But a lawyer's but man, and I fell
And I hunted the dog for her glory
And I shot him in some boozer's hell.
It was for Cordite Kate, that I braved it
For the faith that she gave to a louse
Now someone must take my affidavit
Is there another lawyer in the house?


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