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The Criminal’s Apology

From The Seattle Star, December 29, 1913. By Berton Braley.

Oh yes, I’m guilty, right enough;
It ain’t no use to throw a bluff,
An’ yet, I guess, Society
Kin share the guilt along o’ me!
I ain’t the kind to weep an’ whine,
But say—wot chance, wot chance was mine?

Born in a dirty, reeking slum,
Where decent sunlight never come,
An’ starved for food an’ starved for air
Through all my years of boyhood there,
While evil things, an’ low an’ mean
Was nearly all the life I seen,
Of course, I growed to be a tough,
A hoodlum, and a bad young rough!

But even then I might uv been
Reformed to be some use to men,
If, every time I left the trail,
They didn’t slam me into jail
Where thieves an’ all that rotten crew
Would teach me worse than all I knew.

Oh yes, I’m guilty; that is clear,
But every guy who’s listenin’ here
An’ all you swells an’ goodly folks,
Who sniffs at me an’ such-like blokes,
Is guilty, too—along o’ me,
An’ will be till the world is free
Of stinkin’ slums an’ rotten holes
That poison people’s hearts and souls,
An’ cheats ‘em from their very birth
From every decent chance on earth.
I ain’t the kind to weep an’ whine,
But say—wot chance, wot chance was mine?

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