June 30, 2015

"Mary Phagan" by Ueno Wayne

Grave of Mary Phagan
Mary Phagan

It wasn't no easy life making pencils,
But I’d rather lived it than died like I did.
They found me in the wee hours
The night of Confederate Memorial Day--
It was 1913 and I was 12 years old. 
Worked in the pencil factory with other kids,
Ran a knurling machine that put erasers into metal 
For 55 hours, I got 4 dollars and 11 cents.

They found me, I wasn’t pretty no more,
A 7 foot strip of 3/4 inch wrapping cord around my neck
Buried in the skin 1/8 of an inch deep.
They measured everything. Then they grabbed
A Yankee from New York, Mr. Leo Frank
They called him Jew, whatever that is. It’s in the Bible.

The Governor said No, the trial wasn’t right,
So they took Mr. Frank and hanged him from a tree.
25 armed men, called themselves the Knights of Mary Phagan,
They carried him 150 miles to Frey’s Gin
Near where I lived in Marietta.
They took pictures, pieces of his nightshirt,
And bits of rope to sell as souvenirs.

Everyone wanted to be in the picture.
I could tell you the man did it but what would that change?
It was the janitor. I never knew his name.
Anyway, my great niece Mary Phagan Kean already done this.
She named the names, so everyone knows who killed Mr. Frank.
When you walk down the streets of Marietta
Their names are the ones on street signs, 
Shopping centers, and law offices.

Leo Frank (before)

Leo Frank (after)