Saturday, 11 February 2012

Ballad of the Barefoot Bandit

They say he hails from westward way,
A bonny bandit he,
Who hops and skips across the land
As free as free can be.

It’s said by some he’s seven feet,
And others six-foot-five,
But all agree the Bandit boasts
The cleanest heels alive.

He wanders where he will along
The highways and the lanes,
And rides the scudding clouds above
The mountains and the plains.

He camps alone in wooded dells,
Is never ever seen;
A shoeless footprint in the soil,
The only hint he’s been.

He tends the orphaned animals,
The injured and the sick,
And only comes to town to seek
Supplies he wants to whip.

In Tennessee he took some milk,
In Maine an Oreo,
A blanket in Nebraska and
A bath in Idaho.

And when his work is done and all
The animals are good,
The Bandit slips away at night,
To find another wood.

But on the way he always pays
A visit to the vet,
Where any cash he has to spare
He puts upon the step.
The sour Sheriff Frazer sought
To end his antics, though,
And vowed to track the Bandit down
Wherever he may go.

So gravely, then, the Sheriff studied
Barefoot’s family tree,
To understand the hows and whys,
And where and when he’d be.
He found him in New Hampshire on
A frosty winter’s day,
But Barefoot took uncharted trails,
And made a getaway,

From whence our Bonny Bandit blithely
Traveled down the coast,
And o’er the sea to paradise,
Elusive as a ghost.

And yet, the wily Sheriff, as
An older, wiser man,
Had climbed inside the Bandit’s mind,
And dreamed as young’uns can;

And so it was one golden dawn,
While lounging by a bay,
The Bandit saw the Sheriff’s shadow
Pounce upon his prey . . .
It’s said the Sheriff tossed the Bandit
Down a dungeon deep,
To pine away for light of day,
And grass beneath his feet.

But that ain’t so, as children know,
Cos sometimes sheriffs lie,
And that’s what Sheriff Frazer did,
And here’s the reason why:

The Bandit nimbly leapt aside,
And on a bobbing boat,
And where the Bandit’s butt had been,
The Sheriff saw a note,

And on the note were scrawled the words,
I’ll c’ya! Got to run!
The Sheriff scowled, the Bandit bowed,
And sailed toward the sun.

With that, the Bandit disappeared,
To where, I couldn’t say,
And not a single soul can tell
You where he lives today.

And that is why when mothers cry,
“D’you steal the cookies, son?”
A boy can hold her stare and say,
“The Bandit must’ve done!”

And, “Missy, where’s your homework?”
“Sir, I had it – did me best!
Perhaps the Bandit ripped it up,
To line a sparrow’s nest.”

It’s also why my crafty gran
Can wink and say, “Beware!
The Bandit takes a kid who fibs,
To feed a hungry bear!”

© Anthony Baverstock

Barefoot Bandit Colton Harris-Moore sentenced again

Author's note: "I am intrigued by how people like Harris-Moore become folk heroes with 60,000 followers on Facebook, and how their exploits assume legendary proportions, even mythic status. And as Harris-Moore has been compared to Robin Hood (not to mention Jesse James, and even John Dillinger), the traditional narrative ballad seemed the best choice of form for my own little bit of myth-making about him. "
Anthony Baverstock is from Colchester, reputed home of Humpty-Dumpty.