dVerse — Poetics — My name is Hattie

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Bob Dylan | The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll | Murder Ballads

As many times as I look in the mirror and pin my hair just right,
so its beauty hides behind my scarf, out of lusting sight,
still the knife twists in my gut when I know what is to come,
where fine gentlemen ogle, touch, and blurt obscenities to
me the lowly, serving wench. When possible I keep a bench
between myself and them. My eyes stay low, I never smile
as no accuse shall swell of attempts to bewitch or beguile.
Still one of the regulars makes it his passion for harassment
through insults and taps with his ivory lion-headed cane.

With a small plot of land, I bet I could grow enough to feed
the too-many hungry mouths, sprouted seeds of a hot-blooded
husband’s passion. He’s long-gone sniffing on down the road.
Serving rich folks at the club, and evening-ends leftovers, is
enough, worth the price of my sense of self as worthy of love.

Tonight Mr. William is drunker than usual. He’s drinking doubles
after his wife slapped him and stormed off in her white ermine coat.
Hattie, you no good wench, get your black ass over here. Now!”
On the other side of the bench, eyes to the floor,“May I help you, Sir.”
The last thing I see is the ivory lion, coming close fast.

 

 

Although Hattie Carroll was a very much real person who was murdered on February 9, 1963 by William Zantzinger, to my knowledge, there are no written words in the voice of Hattie Carroll. I’m hoping my bending the rules a little here is ok for the prompt.

Image and well-written article found here.

Ingrid is today’s host for dVerse’ Poetics. Ingrid says:
The challenge is to write a poem in the voice of a fictional character. It can be any character you like, and you can introduce it in your own voice if you choose (à la Coleridge, though I certainly wouldn’t insist on this) but the main body of the poem must be in the voice of your character.

57 Comments Add yours

  1. Ingrid says:

    This message really hits hard. I know the song well, and this is absolutely a great use of the prompt. Now is the time for our tears. Thank you Lisa.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      ❤ Thank you for the comment and you are welcome.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love how you gave her a voice… and I do remember the song, I think I even wrote a poem inspired by the song once.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thank you, Bjorn. I would love to see the poem if you care to share it.

      Like

      1. I did in the next comment.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. msjadeli says:

          I saw that and just commented. Thank you for sharing. It is really shocking how much brutality has been overlooked and/or minimized in our nation with a root of racism and/or misogyny.

          Like

  3. jazzytower says:

    I have to go do some reading on Hattie. This is very well presented. Nice work.

    Pat

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Pat, if you click on that image link it will take you to more information. Thank you very much.

      Like

      1. jazzytower says:

        Will do. Thanks.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. kim881 says:

    I love that the character is inspired by a real person and a Dylan song, Lisa, and that its begins with her looking at herself in a mirror. You conveyed her motivation clearly in the lines:
    ‘With a small plot of land, I bet I could grow enough to feed
    the too-many hungry mouths, sprouted seeds of a hot-blooded
    husband’s passion. He’s long-gone sniffing on down the road’
    and the pain that’s hidden behind her smile fills the lines:
    ‘On the other side of the bench, eyes to the floor,“May I help you, Sir.”
    The last thing I see is the ivory lion, coming close fast.’

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thank you very much, Kim. It hurt to write it.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. merrildsmith says:

    I’m so glad you gave her a voice. There are too many women like this over the centuries.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thank you very much, Merril.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. merrildsmith says:

        You’re very welcome, Lisa!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. sanaarizvi says:

    This is incredibly hard-hitting and poignant! I am glad you chose to give her a voice via this poem, Lisa! 💝💝

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thank you very much, Sanaa.

      Like

  7. calmkate says:

    great voice Lisa, these women only want to serve yet arrogance cut her life short … as with so many others. A fitting tribute to so many ….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thank you very much, Kate. I feel sorry for waitresses and other servers and the harassment they take. Then you have this kind of situation which takes it to a whole new level. What a crime and what a crime and shame so little accountability.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. calmkate says:

        arrogance insists on having it’s own way … fortunately I understand that what goes down comes round … karma is efficient!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Glenn A. Buttkus says:

    Like you, I mixed fact and fiction. In this divided nation, with racism front and center, this poem hits like a mule kicks. Good character study, and wonderful word-smithing here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Glenn, I appreciate your comment. Thank you. I will go check yours out now (behind on my reading!)

      Like

  9. Dora says:

    Lisa,
    Hattie’s suffering and murder makes me think of all the women around the world who are suffering likewise, because of class or color or circumstance. As far as civilization goes, we humans have made a mess of it and I hardly believe it’s any better now in many places around the world. You did such a good job giving Hattie a voice that my blood is boiling. Great piece of writing.
    ~🕊Dora

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Dora, thank you very much. It makes my blood boil also, for those now gone and those in the now being tormented and murdered.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Sadje says:

    What a sad story of the fate people of color faced. Well written my friend

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thank you very much, Sadje.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sadje says:

        You’re welcome 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Beverly Crawford says:

    So many stories like Hattie’s. I pray one day the roots of racism can be destroyed at last, and there be no more Hattie’s.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thank you very much, Beverly, I pray so as well.

      Like

  12. Grace says:

    Her voice rings out loud and clear. What an interesting story and I admire how you descrbe this so vividly:

    Still one of the regulars makes it his passion for harassment
    through insults and taps with his ivory lion-headed cane.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thank you very much, Grace. I am honored to try and speak for Hattie now, who was given no voice before.

      Like

  13. This is powerful stuff, Lisa. And what a crazy, sickening story – makes your blood boil!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Yes it is, Christian; it almost defies belief!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I have to say I never knew this story, what a tragedy! Powerful piece with a very memorable voice. Thanks for sharing the link to the full story as well! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thank you very much, Tricia. I learned the story when I bought Bob Dylan’s “Biograph” CD set and heard the song. Once heard, never forgotten.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Helen Dehner says:

    Now, more than I had ever imagined …. we need to hear the voices. Beautiful write, Lisa.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Helen, you are so right, we need to hear the voices. Thank you very much.

      Like

  16. rothpoetry says:

    I think you have done a wonderful job on this narrative. Your worries about the prompt are forgiven by artist’s prerogative!! A sad story!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thank you very much, Dwight ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Anita says:

    Well conveyed in the words of Hattie.
    Sadly, we will never really know what happened in such cases.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thank you for reading and commenting, Anita.

      We do know that Hattie is dead and that William got 6 months probation, but beyond that — does it matter?

      Like

  18. memadtwo says:

    I could feel her and the context of her life. Still too many in that servant role. (K)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Amen! Working for tips and smiling through the pain and insult of brute patrons.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Raivenne says:

    For whatever reason I could not see your image and it has been a very long time since I heard or thought of Dylan’s song, so all I had were your words.

    I feel part of it is a server’s lament, especially a female server. The inherit reality of the job, and some of the types of people they must deal with as they work toward their dreams. or simply making ends meet rings true even now. The haunting job you’ve done with these as Hattie’s voice as she faces her evening and then her end lends it veracity and tension that escalates very much the way it did the last night of her life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Raivenne, the image I found of Hattie is one of the few (the only?) image I could find of her on google, so if you google her name, the image I used will show up.

      Thank you very much for your comment and feedback.

      Like

  20. The disparity between the “classes” is just as clear here as in Dylan’s lyrics. Well done, Lisa.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Ken, thank you. Classism and racism have not improved much since then and in some/many ways have gotten worse.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Brutal and all too true. So well done Lisa.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thanks much, Linda.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome.

        Liked by 1 person

  22. Your offering of a voice to Hattie was admirable. A wonderfully done piece ‘bringing her to life’! Really good write!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Appreciate your reading and your comment. Thank you, Susan.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. robtkistner says:

    Excellent Lisa, so well written! Time for tears…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Rob, thank you very much. I hope there is no such thing as harassment in heaven. Or murder for that matter.

      Like

  24. I know the song well, though not much about the person.
    This is just wonderful, Lisa!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Sara, thank you. It’s a very sad situation. I wonder how many other Hatties there have been that didn’t have songs written about them…

      Like

      1. We will never know.

        Liked by 1 person

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