Bonnie Parker wrote two poems while she and Clyde Barrow were on the run from the law. This poem, the Story of Suicide Sal, was the first of the two. (The second poem is "The Story of Bonnie and Clyde.") Bonnie wrote this poem while she was held in the Kaufman jail in spring 1932. The poem was published in newspapers after it was found during the raid on Bonnie and Clyde's hideout in Joplin, Missouri on April 13, 1933.
The Story of Suicide Sal
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 now 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 man's 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.
Jake "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 this hell that he's caused me,
And love him as long as I live.
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.
Tomorrow 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."
-- Bonnie Parker