4.26.2014

Black Bart, the Poet, of course lived in Decatur, Illinois. Bowles was convicted and sentenced to six years in San Quentin Prison, but his stay was shortened to four years for good behavior. When he was released in January 1888, his health had clearly deteriorated owing to his time in prison. He had visibly aged, his eyesight was failing, and he had gone deaf in one ear. Reporters swarmed around him when he was released, and asked if he was going to rob any more stagecoaches. "No, gentlemen," he replied, smiling, "I'm through with crime." Another reporter asked if he would write more poetry. Bowles laughed and said, "Now, didn't you hear me say that I am through with crime?" Copycat poem written by another criminal in 1888: So here I've stood while wind and rain Have set the trees a-sobbin, And risked my life for that box, That wasn't worth the robbin. Authenticated poems: I've labored long and hard for bread, For honor, and for riches, But on my corns too long you've tread, You fine-haired sons of bitches. —Black Bart, 1877 Here I lay me down to sleep To wait the coming morrow, Perhaps success, perhaps defeat, And everlasting sorrow. Let come what will, I'll try it on, My condition can't be worse; And if there's money in that box 'Tis munny in my purse. --Black Bart, 1878

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