Fear, Force, and Leather: The Texas Prison System&rsquot;s First Hundred Years 1848-1948

Poetry Corner, The Echo, October 1933

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Inmate poetry from The Echo, October 1933

THE ECHO                                                                Page 15




Rhymes Without Reason


By Tex Conaway

Now in the Print Shop, there is a bunch,
Who seem to think they have a hunch,
To every thing the writer knows,
Both in poetry and in prose.

To tell the truth they are quite rank,
Their heads remind us of an old tin tank,
When rainy seasons fail to come,
And the water tank is on the bum.

They are a lot of big shot crooks,
What they don’t is not in the books,
They will tell you of the dough they've made,
While out in the free world they stayed.

But I don’t think they are so smart,
To tell the truth right from the heart,
They are just a lot of country boys,
Not used to all the big noise.

There’s Rough-House Reynolds who hails from Chi—
And started telling tellers to heist them high,
He is a bandit brave and bold,
If all is true that he has told.

Then there’s Bert and J.D. Starnes,
Who dings back doors and sleeps in barns,
But talk to them when all alone,
They are First Lieutenants of Al Capone.

And you all have heard of Charlie Perry,
The boy from the wild and woolly prairie,
When he arrived in Wichita Falls,
He began to make his mid-night calls.

He started in to burglarize,
A trade that don’t pay to advertise,
But he left a clue which the coppers found,
And ere long he was Huntsville bound.

Of the bookbinders there’s not much to tell,
Just Leon Lassiter and Pinky Rischel,
Neither of them amount to much,
They’re crippled where they can’t use a crutch.

And Francisco Garza, the Mexican lad,
Who says he never did anything bad,
Cheer up Garza and dry your tears,
You can try it again in ten more years.

The foreman is quite a respectable person,
Whose only fault is work desertion
He has the habit of always seeming,
To be half asleep and fondly dreaming.

Of the days to come when he himself,
Will have some shekels on the shelf,
And will not have to work no more,
But Lay on his couch and snore and snore.

Also the porter Vincent Broussard,
He just came in while the times are hard,
That’s all but me, who wrote these lines,
Number Seven, Two, Six, One, Nine.


She knows my sins are red,
That if were better I were dead;
But her teachings oft times said
Out of thy mercy oh Lord “Though
His sins be as scarlet—even so,
—And my sins are scarlet I know—
“They shall be made as white as

Each and every night I know she’ll
Through all the night and all the
Since from her sight I’ve been a-
Praying for me as I stroll life[‘]s
Amid myriads of other tramping
Down its rough roads, easing a
   weary task
A favor of our Lord she’ll ask;
As she lays her head to rest in a
   weary bed,
Until the gray of dawn glows red;
Tho none may guess, her plea is
   Oh Mighty One,
Father above, deal gently with my

She knows the law itself does say,
For each sin some soul must pay—
But as she recalls clinging baby
Childhoods tenderness, big eyes
   with tears wet,
From above it seems, in heavenly
Her prayers are for her baby yet;
So, if a payment there must be,
For one so dear and sweet as she,
Exact it, Oh my god, from me!

                         —Puddin Head


There ain’t no use crabbin’, friend
   When things don’t come your
It does no good to gloom around,
   And grumble night and day.
The thing to do is curb your grief,
   Cut out your little whine;
And when they ask you how you
   Jest say, “I’m feeling fine.”

There ain’t no man alive but what
   Booked to get his slap;
There ain’t no man what walks but
   Fro[m] trouble gets his rap.
Go mingle with the bunch, old boy,
   Work hard and don’t repind;
And when they ask you how you
   Jest say, “I’m feeling [f]ine.”


You’re subject to falls, and a trip to the Walls,
   If you’re leading the life of a
If you’re dealt in a hand, with
      some crooked band,
   You’ll probably wind up with
      the book.

You may steal in the night, or the
      brightest of light,
  And get by for one year or more.
The first sentence you get, may be
      a small bit,
   So that wont burn to the core.
Then you’ll land back out there,
      with only your fare,
   To the village they sent you up
Then you say to yourself, it’s
      either the shelf,
   Or the life of a common bum.
I’ll make one good haul, and that
      will be all,
   Then I’ll put up my pistol for
That might be okay, you might
      get away,
   And still settle down, if you
You pull this one job and split
      with the mob,
   Then hit the high lights for
Your money runs low, you go for
      more dough,
   For some dame who gave you a
A cops whistle will blow, the end
      of the show,
   You’ve had your last pistol to
Just one more crook, wound up
      with the Book,
   And that is all she wrote.

            THE HAIR-PIN

What is home without a hair-pin,
  When the glove hook can’t be
And the street car is approaching,
  To the northern depots bound?
Or the paper cutter’s missing,
  As the thrilling tale she reads;
And the hero’s planned elopement
On an uncut page succeeds?
What is home with out a hair-pin
Deftly bent upon the floor;
When one finds it, walking barefoot
Hark, was that a voice that swore,
Sending echoes through the darkness,
  With a swift profane dispatch,
Till they swarmed upon a toothpick
  And became a parlor match?
Oh! the wicked little hair-pin—
  Treacherous wire of dual point—
You were better hid in tresses
  Than in wrenching out a oint!






The years they come and go, love;
Writ in flowers and snow, love;
In laughter, tears and pain.
And each but brings us nearer
The heart that has grown dearer,
We part to meet again.

So life will slip [unclear]
In sunshine of the day, [unclear]
In shadow and in rain.
With faith thru nights of sorrow,
In a happier to-morrow,
We part to meet [unclear]





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Poetry Corner, The Echo, October 1933. The Echo, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Page last modified: February 10, 2016