Listening to every heart
In those days of the olden, golden west
Where law was fair and women the best
Came the gambler, Black Jake, into St. Louis town
Looking for faro or any good game around.
The Riverboat Belle was in harbor ready
For a trip up the ‘Sippi, and she looked steady
So Black Jake thought this venture he might take
And boarded the boat, a gambler with a stake.
Dark and swarthy with a mustachioed grin.
he’d charm his way as he swaggered on in,
all the pretty girls in their clothes of silk
looked down on him; ‘twas none of their ilk.
‘Cept for Bessie, she smiled at him her charm-song
and the gambler Jake, gazed as if to heaven he’d gone
for her beauty surpassed the others by far
and to him she became his love, his shining star.
He sidled up to the oak bar quick as a snake
And in hushed voice, a bit quivering he quaked
“Miss Bessie, I’d have you in a minute I trust,
but first I must make my fortune, before I may lust!”
Bessie dimpled, she beamed, she took his arm,
and Black Jake, overcome with her charm
followed her willfully as the tables cleared
While the saloon girls hollered and cheered.
“Why BJ,” Bessie simpered, smiling all the while
“why don’t you play cards with me?” she said with a smile.
And Black Jake, aghast at a woman so fair
let his lean body relax in the oak chair.
“Why Bessie, m’love, don’t you think you
should just watch over and give me luck?
Are there any real men here
who would like to quick lose a buck?”
Would-be gamblers gathered on in
To see which way their luck would spin.
Whether big or small, no matter the pot
they just wanted to take back what Black Jake got.
The riverboat started its trip up the river,
All the gamblers had boarded from shore.
Black Jake the master set Bessie’s heart aquiver
While the bartender shut the Shady Side door.
“Deal!” barked Black Jake in a masterful tone,
the cards were shuffled, and in his smile a gold tooth shone,
“Play!” he commanded, as if the commander were he,
and the game progressed smoothly, with Bessie on his knee.
Time passed on, hazy smoke filled the air,
Black Jake never left the seat of his chair.
Bessie whispered sweet things in his right ear
And to his chest he pulled all his winnings up right near.
On the riverboat there were some rules
Two of them being, no cheating or fools
were allowed, for there was no dirt or door
To throw the wayward ones out into, not even the shore.
The Commander he didn’t care for the faro game
But he kept all of the rules fair, just the same.
It grieved him to see Bessie on Black Jake’s knee
But that wasn’t a rule to be broke, so to the bow went he.
The game went without incident ‘til three in the ‘morn
Most of the gamblers looked weary, but Black Jake wasn’t worn.
“Ah, Bessie, my sweet, my winnings are fair,
now I must ask you, is it for me and my love that you really care?”
Bessie parted her red rose lips
And placed her hand upon her wide hip
“Ah, BJ, my love, ‘tis you for me,
come to my room, I’ve a garter for thee.”
And thus the game was called for good reason
Black Jake left with Bessie among some mild teasin’,
as the rules on the Riverboat Belle in the Shady Side Saloon
said all winners must leave their cash with Bessie long before noon.
09 Aug 99
Words will always express our feelings true. ~~~ KRJ
Look, then, into thine heart, and write ~~~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow