The Ballad of White Boy Rick
a news-inspired sonnet
by Joe Váradi
A boy grew up on Motown’s crack-laced grid,
His nearest kin not able to provide,
Fell in with shady crowds — was just a kid,
Rose in the ranks, setbacks absorbed in stride.
'Came F.B.I. informant early on —
The youngest snitch the law had ever turned,
But once the Feds had no use for their pawn,
By his handlers, he was ditched and spurned.
His life spent in the shade of barbed-wire fence,
Crossing a crooked chief his worst offense.
Now thirty years and more have come and gone,
His day of freedom just about to dawn.
Sometimes redemption for the wicked waits —
His childhood sweetheart met him at the gates.
I was inspired by the release from prison, after 32 years, of Richard Wershe Jr., the youngest FBI informant in history, nicknamed White Boy Rick not by his peers but by the media that sensationalized his story.
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