Oklahoma 1933

He wore white shirts and silk ties

With sharp suits and new shoes;

But he weren't much older than that season's cornstalks.

Her days had been empty and blank,

Like dishes drying in a rack;

So when he asked her if she'd like to go for a ride, she didn't have to think it over much.

He was a businessman,

Relieving banks of excess inventory at the urging of a Browning automatic rifle.

She liked the movies and wrote poetry in a neat hand while waiting in the getaway car.

She called him "Daddy."

He called her "Sugar Darlin'."

All throughout Texas and points north,

He enacted transactions and then left the law choking on his dust down the back country roads.

He said, "Am I scarin' you, Darlin'?"

She said, "Drive faster, Daddy, I'm gettin' bored."

At motor courts outside Enid or New Braunfels,

They'd ruin the sheets, then leave a ten dollar tip.

Lots of people knew who they were, but it was a donkey's age before anybody snitched.

It was September, early in the evening,

And they had just stopped their car a minute to smell the sun-warmed country grass and have a smoke when judgement came.

The windows shattered into her eyes and she couldn't see that part of his head was gone, so she covered him with her body to protect him;

The stolen V-8 rocked them like babies in a cradle with every impact,

And she said "Daddy" in his ear one last time in the moment before her heart stopped forever.

Later, pictures of them dead sold for a nickel,

And their car turned up at carnival sideshows for years

With one headlight remaining,

Miraculously intact,

And seemingly ready to light up the road,

Even still,

As if they might yet come barreling down it.


photograph: Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker, on whom my poem is very very loosely based. Some of these things happened to them, some to others, and some are made up.


Riot Kitty said…
I love that line about days.
Senorita said…
Wow, talk about how slow I am with history. At first I thought you were writing about your parents or grandparents. Then I put two and two together.

Silly me !
Lynn said…
But I got that it was about them right away. Good job and good imagination for filling in details! Did the car really tour at carnivals?
Fireblossom said…
Lynn, yes indeed it did.
Kay said…
inspiration all around... wasn't expecting it, to be honest. Great Shock value
mac said…
I remember seeing the car when I was a kid.
I'm not sure if it was the actual car, or one that was used in the Warren Beatty film.

Either way, it was a pretty shot-up car.

Nice poem :-)
Ileana said…
"Drive faster, Daddy, I'm getting bored." I like that line! :)

Beautifully done, amiga. You bring everyone back to life...in full detail.
TALON said…
A perfect blend of fact and fiction...and for the duration of the poem they lived again so vibrantly.
Cloudia said…
you say something original AGAIN!

Aloha from Waikiki

Comfort Spiral
Shadow said…
how i love this story...
G-Man said…
...And they took pieces of cloth, and dabbed it in the fresh blood for souvenirs.
Maude Lynn said…
This is exquisite!
Daryl said…
Fabulous ...
Mojo said…
If they only knew you were gonna write this about 'em. What do you suppose they'd have done with those last few moments?

Great stuff Shay. Great stuff.
Jannie Funster said…
Wow!! Another of your best ones.