Sunday, March 02, 2008

When They Killed Jim Lee

by Mary Elizabeth Mahnkey

I loved the tales my grandparents told,
When life was wild and free
And in the Ozark Mountains
He rode with Jimmy Lee.
Dearer than a brother
This youngster seemed to be,
And I can't forget the story
And the way he looked at me.
His stern dark eyes so wild and fierce,
His hand clenched on his knee--
"Now listen, boy, 'tis a sorry tale
Of how they killed Jim Lee."
"T'wuz at a dance at Hampton's
We wuz havin' a peck uv fun
When a gang come in from the river
An' thought they would make us run.
Some fool shot out the lanterns--
We fit thar in the dark,
Gals an' wimmen a-screamin'
But none of us missed our mark
Then, some one ripped the paper
Off'en the cabin wall
An' lit a blaze in the old fireplace
Jest as I seed Jim fall.

A tall slim cuss bent over him,
I seed a long knife shine,
But I wuz as quick as the stranger
An' he tuck the blade uv mine.

Jimmy died just about mornin'
Holdin' my hand 'til the end,
An' he grinned when they come to tell us
That down in the river bend
They was makin' a long, long coffin
For one uv the river men."

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