Poems penned in prison by gangster Bonnie go under hammer

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THE unpublished poetry of Bonnie Parker, America's most notorious woman gangster, has emerged in the prison notebook she kept.

Poetry from Life's Other Side was the title Parker - the partner of the notorious Clyde Barrow - gave to ten handwritten poems penned after her arrest over a botched armed robbery. Appropriately enough, she used a bank book, from the First National Bank of Burkburnett, Texas.

Parker was only 23 when she and Barrow died in a hail of gunfire in 1934 after a string of robberies of grocery stores, petrol stations and small banks, inspiring the film Bonnie and Clyde starring Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty.

Two years earlier, Parker wrote the poems in jail, and they are being sold by a descendant of a warder she befriended. The sale is being handled by Bonhams in New York and the book is expected to go under the hammer for between $30,000 and $50,000 (15,000 to 25,000).

Some of the poems are original and some copies of popular ballads. The Prostitutes Convention tells of prostitutes named West End Rose, Lonesome Lou and Subway Sue who meet for a talk but scatter when police turn up. The Fate of Tiger Rose tells of a woman, now growing old in jail, who was once a "woman of shame/who played a hard game". It ends with a shoot-out.

Parker was jailed after her arrest for taking part in a botched armed robbery with Barrow. After two months, she was released without charge.

In a 1934 biography of her daughter, Emma Parker said it was at Kaufman County Jail in Texas that Bonnie first began to use gangster-style jargon.

In Bravery, she wrote: "No-one must know how I tremble/When I hear a siren moan/Just fearing for you darling/And hoping you're safe at home."

The Trail's End, one of the poems that had been previously published, is typical of Parker's "gangster ballads". It reads: "Pat O'Neal, at the Paris Wheel/Makes a grab for a hidden 'gat'/McCall let go and Pat sags low/As the 'sub' went rat-tat-tat."