Poetry

The Ballad of Lizzie Borden
by Annette Baker

Miss Lizzie Borden (so they say)
Chopped up her folks one August day.
The experts gave us all the specs:
She lusted after her own sex;
Beheading kittens (two or three)
She regularly did with glee;
She stole the goods she could have bought;
Her music lessons came to naught;
She was a dropout, though ’tis said
She was uncommonly well-read.
She sailed to Europe – that we know
And overspent her budget, so
The girl wired home for extra cash…
Her father wired back, “Balderdash!”
She had to borrow from a friend,
Which set her thinking how to send
Old Andrew up to Heaven’s throne
And get his fortune for her own.
Of course, there was one tiny hitch:
His wife – that sly and scheming witch!
He could leave no widowed missus,
For all the money must be Lizzie’s.
(She’d share with Sister Emma, who
Was fond of filthy lucre too.)
The plot was hatched, the hatchet ground;
She waited till the time came ’round -
The perfect moment, when the coast
Was clear, and she could make the most
Of Emma’s summer interlude,
For poor, dear Emma was a prude,
Who wouldn’t sanction shedding blood,
Though Lizzie fancied Emma would
Be all too glad to help her spend
The proceeds of it in the end.
She chose a perfect summer day;
‘Twas hellish hot, the stories say.
A houseguest put her plan in doubt,
But handily, he sauntered out
To visit elsewhere in the town.
But then the maid was duty-bound
To wash the windows in and out,
Assuring she would be about
The place and surely interfere
With Lizzie’s plan – but never fear -
Our Lizzie was a fearless sort;
She donned her paint-smeared Bedford cord,
Crept noiselessly up the stair,
And slew that “mean old thing” up there;
Rained blows upon her old gray head,
Till she was well and truly dead.
She waited then till Andrew came
From downstreet and gave him the same.
Her trademark frizzy bangs askew,
She chopped and hacked; he got his due.
And then she washed the blood away
And yelled upstairs, “Come down, I say!
For Father’s dead; someone came in
And killed him while I looked for tin
To fix my screen – or was it lead
To make some sinkers?”  Then she said,
” Fetch the doctor on the double!
Tell him there has been some trouble.”
Soon the neighbors came and then
They all asked Lizzie where she’d been.
Her answers didn’t fit the facts,
And in the cellar was an axe
With broken handle, and its head
Was rubbed with ashes, so they said.
Some ten months later, she was tried
With three fine lawyers at her side.
The D. A. failed to prove his case,
And Lizzie, in her best black lace
Was asked to stand and face her peers.
” Not guilty!” rang out loud and clear.
So Hip! Hooray! for Lizbeth B.
The jury loved her; so do we.
She bought a house upon the hill
And lived there all her days, but still-
Who did it, if it wasn’t she?
We’ll never solve that mystery… 
 
© 2002 by Annette Weeks Baker
All rights reserved

 


 

Ode To Fellow Bordenites by Tina Weidle

A hatchet on one side. An ax on the other.
The legend of Lizzie killing father and step mother.
So brilliant, so angry, did she make the plan?
To kill step mommy, and later kill again?
Or maybe she didn’t plan it that way at all…
And another murderer, waited in the hall.
And father who came home early that day.
Did the killer know it would be that way?
An ax they say, not knowing where it was from.
Nor where it went when the end had come.
So oddly it became, how the murders turned out.
Noone saw anything, and noone heard shouts.
Only minutes later, the maid heard a yelp.
Then the maid was sent for help.
Doctors, police, so many others too.
In and out of that house, and not a clue.
Lizzie got arrested, the town all a gasp.
When father came home Lizzie laughed.
She burned her dress, she told a lie!
Do not let her go, Lizzie must die!
The jury decided it was all no good,
There wasn’t enough proof, to prove Lizzie could.
People all around, in amazement they scoffed.
Feeling that Lizzie had just been let off.
And they also felt Lizzie did not do enough at all,
To find the real killers, they were appalled.
The whispers, and rudeness cut like a knife.
Would continue throughout the rest of her life.
So many stories would live, long after she’s gone.
And the legend of Lizzie will continue on.
The case wasn’t solved, and will live on forever.
In the hearts of Bordenites, and the case of Fall River.

Ode to Fellow Bordenites © 2002 Tina Weidle

 


 

Ladies and Gentlemen If You Please
by Kat Koorey 

Ladies and gentlemen
If you please
The facts of the case
Are simply these:
That two old folks
One summer morn
Had their brains exposed
And a Legend was born
A daughter accused
Folks said “No way!”
The jury agreed
She’s free to this day
No one was ever
Hung for the crime
And that is why
We still hear that Rhyme . . . 

Ladies and Gentlemen © 2002 Kat Koorey

 


 

The Mystery of Lizzie Borden
by Eugene Hosey

One grim hot August day, 
In a house locked within and without, 
A blade rained blood, crushing bone and brain. 
Striking 19 times, the stepmother was dead by a bed. 
Father’s eye was cut in half, 
Where he had laid a tired head. 
Shock and dismay echoed through voices of the day. 
How did it happen?  Who could have done it? 
No one saw — no one heard — a thing. 
The maid was washing windows outside. 
Alone in the house, Lizzie ironed and ate pears — 
Except when she went to the barn for lead, 
And came in and found her father dead. 
Bloody flowers on the floor, 
Pear-shaped drops on the wall. 
Old man warm, old lady cold. 
Did the killer hide? 
Who so reckless, so bold? 
And why is Lizzie so calm, quiet, and clean? 
She heard a groan. 
Abby went out on a note. 
While the ladies fanned Lizzie’s face, 
There was a cry from the front stairs. 
Abby never left the house. 
The crime began over an hour ago. 
Murmers and whispers that would never end — 
Gave birth to the Lizzie Borden legend: 
That the stepmother she could not abide — 
Was how Lizzie Borden became an icon of parricide. 
Father had the money and would know, 
So he too had to go. 
One person was there to do them both. 
But no blood was on Lizzie’s wardrobe. 
After the search, someone saw her burn a dress. 
Soon after, Lizzie was under arrest. 
I know I am innocent and will bear this duress. 
Lizzie, when did you last see your mother alive? 
When she went up to the guest room. 
I saw her making the bed as I passed by. 
I took up laundry and saw the door closed. 
Where she was, I’m sure I don’t know. 
I know where I was. 
What could occupy Abby that morning? 
The sewing machine was in the guest room. 
Did you hear the machine? 
No. 
Could Abby have gone to her room without your knowledge? 
I addressed envelopes in the sitting room. 
I was in the cellar for five or ten minutes. 
Did your mother leave the house? 
No. 
Did your mother leave the house? 
She said she had a note. 
Where were you when your father came home? 
In the kitchen, on the stairs, in the kitchen. 
Maggie let him in, and then she was upstairs. 
Maggie washed windows inside? 
I never saw her. 
She was in one room, and I in another. 
Father laid down to nap, while I looked for a sinker in the barn. 
I looked at the pigeon house and picked up some pears. 
No one came to the house. 
I heard a scraping sound and saw the door wide open. 
Father’s face was bloody. 
I sounded the alarm: 
Maggie, come down. 
Someone came in and killed him. 
No bloody weapon was found. 
Maggie upstairs heard no sound. 
The killer came and disappeared. 
One night Lizzie saw a phantom run around the house — 
Out of sight into the night. 
No one ever looked more guilty than Lizzie because of where she was. 
But where was the blood of her deed? 
Unless in the pail in the cellar — 
Which Dr. Bowen explained, 
Was her monthly sickness. 
He was fast on the scene, 
A reliable witness. 
The jury found Lizzie not guilty. 
A young girl cannot hang. 
Her ring on her father’s finger is love. 
An axe in her hand is impossible. 
Cold butchery so horrible cannot be the act of a Christian daughter. 
Perplexing crime of the century goes unsolved. 
While Lizzie Borden was absolved. 
Sweetly innocent spooky gaze, 
Dreamy pale blue-eyed haze. 
Blind, deaf, muted truth buried in graves, 
Of headless bodies — 
Debris of rage. 
While Lizzie Borden — 
Stoic, silent, concealed — 
Entertains in a mansion on the hill. 

© 2003 by Eugene Hosey
All rights reserved