I took last Wednesday off from work
To see Jack Braithwaite tried.
Never stood a chance did Jack,
From the moment his mother turned her back
He were up to something fly.
From up there in the public gallery
I watched that hard, cold face.
No reminders there of the little lad
Whose whole idea of doing bad
Was stealing penny taff.
They told us where he'd buried the lass.
Wrapped in his mother's kitchen curtains.
In those lonely woods down by the beck,
They said that's where he slit her neck.
She were only seventeen.
Jacky Braithwaite. Aye he was a bonny boy.
Played with our Margaret years ago.
Sand pies and mud pies in the yard,
My Harold always said he hit them far too hard
with that little wooden spade.
Those eyes. By God he's changed.
No feeling there except hate and guilt
And the memory of his father's belt
And just how bad it must have felt
Across his bare backside.
I knew they'd hang him before I went,
But still it's a bloody shame.
My Harold said he'd took a life
And cut it's throat with a carving knife
And now they'd make him pay.
Elsie Braithwaite didn't come.
Still hiding away with the gin.
She should have been there in her crimpelene
And her purple hat all steamed and clean
Just to say goodbye.
Elsie weren't much good with kids.
She put up with him because he were there.
She liked him at her beck and call,
That's when she were there at all.
You know she had those curtains then.
He looked at me as they took him down.
I didn't have words to say.
You can't smile at a man who is going to die
And it wasn't really my place to cry
So I just looked away.
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.