Brother Dave's Doggerel For The Day
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Doggerel is a form of verse that may be crudely constructed with regard to meter and rhyme and the other elements of classical poetry. Doggerel is often written for humorous effect. Doggerel is generally considered to be trivial, having little or no literary value, and wholly unworthy of being referred to as "poetry." Doggerel is what it is.
When a friend cajoled me into establishing a Twitter account, I had not previously visited Twitter and had no clue as to what I'd do with my own Twitter page. But, for whatever reason, I soon decided that I might post original doggerel there.
At first, I confined my rhymes to a single post, meaning the doggerel was 140-or-less alphanumeric characters in length. And because Twitter did not allow even the most basic of text formatting options back then — such as line breaks, for example — I used forward-slashes to separate the lines of a couplet or quatrain of verse. Following is an early example:
There are still Indians in Indiana / And you may find one if you try /
If not a native Miami or Shawnee / Then one from New Delhi or Mumbai
However, when the constraints of 140-or-less alphanumeric characters became too limiting, I devised the following form for posting longer doggerel on Twitter. Note: Contrary to the normal approach to reading a sequence of paragraph-like blocks of text in English from top down, Twitter feeds are read from bottom up. So, start reading the post that begins with "Above are four (Count 'em, 4!) tweets..." and work your way back up to the top block in the column.
Anyway, posted below should be the most current effort in the Brother Dave's Doggerel For The Day series. While the series title may imply that a new verse will be written and posted each day, such is not likely to be the case. Recently, the frequency has been two-to-four rhymes per week. When a new bit of doggerel is posted, the verse it replaces will be allocated to the archives, where it will remain available for viewing in perpetuity. And, oh yeah, I reserve the right to edit, reformat, or make any other changes to the original material, as the muse moves me and, hopefully, to better serve this webpage presentation. So there!
Brother Dave's Doggerel For The Day, 08/06/17
THE BALLAD OF BLACK BART
He was born over in Norfolk, England in Eighteen-Twenty-Nine.
When his family moved to America, he was age two at the time.
Who knew that bright-eyed toddler who was jolly, kind, smart,
And known as Charlie Boles would one day become Black Bart?
Charlie was only age twenty when the California Gold Rush hit.
He rode three-thousand miles on horseback to claim a piece of it.
But when Charlie's fortune didn't pan out after two years or so,
He went back home, then went back West to give it another go.
A busted Forty-Niner in Eighteen-Fifty-Four, Charlie once more
Headed back to Upstate New York, near Lake Ontario's shore.
Still nine hundred miles from his home, though, to Charlie's joy,
He met and married Mary Johnson and sired four kids in Illinois.
In 'Sixty-Two for the Civil War, Brit-born Charlie joined as a Yankee,
Enlisting in the Hundred-Sixteenth Illinois Regiment, Company B.
Charlie Boles was a model soldier – a grunt, then sergeant, then LT:
Seriously wounded in Vicksburg; marched with Sherman to the sea.
War was won, May of 'Sixty-Five. Charlie was discharged in June.
Unlike his fallen comrades and foes, he returned home. But soon,
Wanderlust and glittering dreams of nuggets and gold dust beckoned.
Forget California, he'd strike it rich in Montana or Idaho, he reckoned.
August 'Seventy-One, four more years away from his kids and wife,
He wrote one last letter home, after which Mary assumed he lost his life.
Charlie had written of an altercation with some agents of Wells Fargo,
And he swore vengeance, but did not say how far he was willing to go.
From July of Eighteen-Seventy-Five to November of 'Eighty-Three
Was the span of Charlie's Wells Fargo stagecoach-robbing spree.
At least twenty-eight holdups to his nom de plume in the poetic art.
You see, he left original doggerel at some heists, signed "Black Bart."
"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
Black Bart became a romantic Wild West folk hero to fellow countrymen.
He was a gentleman bandit who was courteous and well-spoken when
He asked for the strongbox, pointing a shotgun though he never fired it.
As if demeanor and wit weren't enough for fans, doggerel also inspired it.
"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 [sic?] in my purse."
— Black Bart, 1878
Yes, twenty-eight holdups in Northern California and in Southern Oregon.
Though Wells Fargo detectives had tracked Charlie for years, only one
Robbery was prosecuted when he was caught, tried, sentenced, and sent in
To do four years of a six year stretch in a Johnny Cash-less San Quentin.
Charlie "Black Bart" Boles never returned to family in The Great Midwest.
His post-prison whereabouts were known for a while, but then it's guessed
He slipped away to do some more prospecting, or lived anonymously in NYC,
Or was paid by Wells Fargo and Company to further refrain from robbery.
It's the Twenty-First Century now. That Nineteenth Century bandit is gone.
From among this ballad's named entities, it's only Wells Fargo that lives on.
Stealing millions from customers, it's now Wells Fargo committing the crimes,
With fake accounts and unnecessary insurance, but never leaving any rhymes.
The scale of magnitude 'twixt Black Bart's holdups and Wells Fargo's crimes
Would likely boggle Charlie's mind. And at least Charlie left us some rhymes.
# # #
The main reference for today's doggerel: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Bart_(outlaw)
The two blocks of verse (with the shorter lines) are, as attributed, rhymes written by Charles "Black Bart" Boles. I added the bracketed-sic [sic?] after the word "munny" at first thinking it was a misspelling of the word "money." But then, I added the question mark because I thought that, rather than "munny" being misspelled, perhaps it could be a word with which I'm unfamiliar, maybe an allusion to some word or line of text from antiquity. I just had some doubt about a common word being carelessly misspelled when it had been spelled correctly in the preceding line with only four other words intervening. Now I'm hoping that Boles' "munny" was actually a clever reference or pun that I will yet find the meaning of and appreciate with relish in the near future.