The following are three poems from my recently complete manuscript, Sometimes a Woman. The poems in this manuscript represent the lives and voices of the prostitutes and madams who were indispensable, economically and socially at the least, to settling the “Wild West.”
Roll Call of the Fancy Ladies, Yavapai County
(found in Jan McKell’s Wild Women of Prescott, AZ)
Part I--Mistresses of Yavapai County, 1864
Pancha Acuna, born in México, Mariana
Complida, México, Theodora Dias, México,
Nocolasa Frank, México, Andrea Galinda,
married, born in New Mexico, Rosa Garcia,
México, Perfecta Gustalo, Tucson, Santa
Lopez, mistress of Negro Brown, age 17,
México, Isabella Madina, México, Maria no
last name, México, Laguda Martinez, Tucson,
Francisca Mendez, no city given, Arizona,
Juana Miranoa, México, Donanciana Perez,
México, Catherine Revere, age 40, México,
Acencion Rodrigues, born in México 35,
Sacramenta, no last name, age 20, México.
Part II -- Mistresses of Yavapai County, 1870 Census
Nellie Stackhouse, born in Pennsylvania,
Mollie Sheppard, born in Ireland, Maggie
Taylor, age 19, born in California, Ginnie
McKinnie, age 18, born in New York. Mary
Anschutz, a.k.a. Jenny Schultz, no birth place
listed, age 18, will be murdered in two months.
Part III -- Mistresses of Yavapai County, 1880 Census
Nellie Rogers, born in Illinois, lived next door
to Mollie Sheppard. Elysia Garcia, age forty, lived
with six unnamed ‘Mexican girls’ who ranged in age
from sixteen to twenty-eight. Maria Quavaris, Pancha
Bolona, and Joan Arris, all from Sonora, ages seventeen
to twenty-eight, dwelled together. Living with them,
Savana Deas, born in Arizona, eight months-old.
End of Times: A letter to“Big Billie” Betty Wagner, Silverton, CO
(found in Jan MacKell’s Red Light Women of the Rocky Mountains)
No doubt you will be surprised to hear from me but I heard
you were there and I’m writing to ask how business is
and is there a chance for an old lady to come
over and go to work? There is absolutely nothing here
and I want to leave before the snow gets too deep.
If I can get a crib or go to work in
one of the joints, let me know. I wrote to Garnett and she said
there wasn’t any place there I could get. Please answer
and let me know. Must close now
and put this in the mail.
Bye-bye and answer soon.
Mamie G., 200 N. 3rd St.
Death Is the Only
“Death is the only retirement from prostitution.”
--Anonymous Prostitute, Jan McKell’s Red Light District of the Rocky Mountains
Part I. Roll Call
Fay Anderson, Salida, Colorado, died from carbolic acid
Ettie Barker, actress, theater Comique, Pueblo, Colorado, overdosed on morphine
Blanch Garland, Bon Ton Dance Hall, Cripple Creek, Colorado, died from chloroform
Nellie Rolfe also overdosed on morphine, Cripple Creek
Cora Davis took strychnine, Boulder, Colorado, New Year’s night 1913, and died
Stella No-last-name, Boulder, Colorado, dead with no cause listed
May Rikand, combined alcohol and morphine to die, Silverton, Colorado
Malvina Lopez, Tombstone, double suicide with her companion, John Gibbons, by asphyxiation from burning charcoal
Goldie Bauschell, Crystal Palace, Colorado City, jumped from second-story window
Effie Pryor and Allie Ellis, Boulder, Colorado, double suicide by morphine. Allie survived.
Nora McCord, Salida, death through unidentified pills. Nora, herself, was unidentified. She never gave her real name.
Part II. Madam Maddie Silk Narrates, Boulder, CO, New Year’s Night 1913
When we nudged the door a little, it gave.
Cora lay curled on her bed like she was still in utero,
naked, except for the silk stockings which she prized.
It took the moment, and Officer Parkhill saw a breath
from her chest, and then we all held our own: she’s
alive. Officer Parkhill and the other policeman
lifted her off the bed and carried her down
the stairs lengthwise, Mr. Parkhill lifting
her shoulders and leaning her head against
his chest. This is when Cora revived long
enough to empty the contents of her abdomen.
She turned her head and covered Office Parkhill’s
chest with all the poison in the world.
The officers transported Cora in the car,
and I sat alongside. The 20-degrees
surrounding us wanted silence,
and we gave it. I had wrapped Cora
in a big bear blanket, but she had settled
back into the deepness of dying. Here,
we delivered her to the county
hospital. I’ll stay. I said. Mr. Parkhill,
your suit is ruined. He agreed.
The men took their hats and their way,
and I settled into a night of quiet. 1913,
unlucky at best. Cora died the next day.
© Kimberly Williams
Kimberly has been fortunate to travel to half the Spanish-speaking countries in the world by the time she was forty. As a traveler into different cultures, she has learned to listen ask questions, and seek points of connections. This page is meant to offer different points of connections between writers, words, ideas, languages, and imaginations. Thank you for visiting.