The infamous couple Bonnie and Clyde didn’t start off their lives as criminals.
As a child, Clyde Barrow considered becoming a musician. He played guitar and the saxophone.
On the other hand, the young Bonnie Parker wanted to be an actress but later turned her attention to photography and poetry.
What would a killer write about? When did Bonnie have time to write some of her poems? Did Clyde join Bonnie in her literary pursuits?
Keep reading to find out more about Bonnie Parker’s poems and her premonition of their demise.
Did Bonnie Parker Write a Poem?
Bonnie Parker, the female half of the duo known as Bonnie and Clyde, wrote more than one poem.
The ones that she is best known for were written while she was in jail, awaiting the outcome of the grand jury.
Just a quick background, Bonnie smuggled a gun into the jail where Clyde was imprisoned (learn more on where are Bonnie and Clyde’s Guns now). Clyde used the gun in a jailbreak, but he was quickly caught.
This led to Bonnie’s arrest. While she waited to hear about the outcome of the grand jury’s deliberations, she spent the time to write poems. Bonnie used a small notebook she picked up at some time from the First National Bank of Burkburnett, Texas.
Suicide Sal – A Poem Bonnie Wrote While in Prison
One of Bonnie Parker’s poems from that notebook is called Suicide Sal. It goes like this:
We each of us have a good “alibi”
For being down here in the “joint”
But few of them really are justified
If you get right down to the point.
You’ve heard of a woman’s glory
Being spent on a “downright cur”
Still you can’t always judge the story
As true, being told by her.
As long as I’ve stayed on this “island”
And heard “confidence tales” from each “gal”
Only one seemed interesting and truthful-
The story of “Suicide Sal”.
Now “Sal” was a gal of rare beauty,
Though her features were coarse and tough;
She never once faltered from duty
To play on the “up and up”.
“Sal” told me this tale on the evening
Before she was turned out “free”
And I’ll do my best to relate it
Just as she told it to me:
I was born on a ranch in Wyoming;
Not treated like Helen of Troy,
I was taught that “rods were rulers”
And “ranked” as a greasy cowboy.
Then I left my old home for the city
To play in its mad dizzy whirl,
Not knowing how little of pity
It holds for a country girl.
There I fell for “the line” of a “henchman”
A “professional killer” from “Chi”
I couldn’t help loving him madly,
For him even I would die.
One year we were desperately happy
Our “ill gotten gains” we spent free,
I was taught the ways of the “underworld”
Jack was just like a “god” to me.
I got on the “F.B.A.” payroll
To get the “inside lay” of the “job”
The bank was “turning big money”!
It looked like a “cinch for the mob”.
Eighty grand without even a “rumble”-
Jack was last with the “loot” in the door,
When the “teller” dead-aimed a revolver
From where they forced him to lie on the floor.
I knew I had only a moment-
He would surely get Jack as he ran,
So I “staged” a “big fade out” beside him
And knocked the forty-five out of his hand.
They “rapped me down big” at the station,
And informed me that I’d get the blame
For the “dramatic stunt” pulled on the “teller”
Looked to them, too much like a “game”.
The “police” called it a “frame-up”
Said it was an “inside job”
But I steadily denied any knowledge
Or dealings with “underworld mobs”.
The “gang” hired a couple of lawyers,
The best “fixers” in any mans town,
But it takes more than lawyers and money
When Uncle Sam starts “shaking you down”.
I was charged as a “scion of gangland”
And tried for my wages of sin,
The “dirty dozen” found me guilty-
From five to fifty years in the pen.
I took the “rap” like good people,
And never one “squawk” did I make
Jack “dropped himself” on the promise
That we make a “sensational break”.
Well, to shorten a sad lengthy story,
Five years have gone over my head
Without even so much as a letter-
At first I thought he was dead.
But not long ago I discovered;
From a gal in the joint named Lyle,
That Jack and his “moll” had “got over”
And were living in true “gangster style”.
If he had returned to me sometime,
Though he hadn’t a cent to give
I’d forget all the hell that he’s caused me,
And love him as long as I lived.
But there’s no chance of his ever coming,
For he and his moll have no fears
But that I will die in this prison,
Or “flatten” this fifty years.
Tommorow I’ll be on the “outside”
And I’ll “drop myself” on it today,
I’ll “bump ’em if they give me the “hotsquat”
On this island out here in the bay…
The iron doors swung wide next morning
For a gruesome woman of waste,
Who at last had a chance to “fix it”
Murder showed in her cynical face.
Not long ago I read in the paper
That a gal on the East Side got “hot”
And when the smoke finally retreated,
Two of gangdom were found “on the spot”.
It related the colorful story
Of a “jilted gangster gal”
Two days later, a “sub-gun” ended
The story of “Suicide Sal”.
This almost sounds like a biography of Bonnie’s life with Clyde, except that the pair had not been killed yet.
What Was the Last Known Poem from Bonnie Parker?
According to both mothers, Emma Parker and Cumie Barrow, Bonnie and Clyde paid them a visit in early May 1934.
As Bonnie was leaving, she handed her mother an envelope with a piece of paper ripped out from a notebook that she took from First National Bank. On it written was a poem that she penned.
Bonnie and Clyde had promised to return for another visit in 2 weeks, but in that two-week period, the pair was shot dead.
This poem is perhaps Bonnie Parker’s most famous poem since it appears to have a premonition of the couple’s impending doom.
The poem’s title is Trail’s End, but most people refer to this poem as The Story of Bonnie and Clyde.
“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 pigeons, 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.”
Did Clyde Barrow Write Any Poems?
Whether he did so to please Bonnie, or Clyde simply wanted to try his hand at poetry, Clyde did write one poem that we know of, part of which reads (including the spelling errors) –
“Bonnie s Just Written a poem / the Story of Bonnie & Clyde. So / I will try my hand at Poetry/ With her riding by my side. We donte want to hurt anney one / but we have to Steal to eat. / and if it’s a shoot out to / to live that’s the way it / will have to bee. / We have kidnapped some / people. And tied them to a tree / but not so tight that after we / were gone tha could not get / themselves free. /
We are going home tomorrow / to look in on the folks. We will / meet then out near Grape Vine / if the Laws donte get there / first. / Now that’s not as good as / Bonnies. So I guess I / Will call it a flop- / But please God Just one / moore visit before we are / Put on the spot.”
The spelling errors may be indicative of Clyde dropping out of school at 16 or the fact that the Barrow family didn’t have much faith or time for education.
Bonnie Parker wrote poetry that will live on in history, along with the story of the Barrow Gang and the time she spent on the run with Clyde Barrow.
Written by Kerry Wisby – GatsbyFlapperGirl.com
Owner & Founder of GatsbyFlapperGirl.com
Kerry Wisby, a former teacher with a BA in English, is the founder of GatsbyFlapperGirl.com. With a passion for all things 1920s, including The Great Gatsby novel, her website is the ultimate source for Roaring Twenties fashion, history, and party ideas. Read more about Kerry here.