top of page


The Poetry of

James Arthur Skipper, Jr


A Brief Biography

 1. Swimming

 2. What They Call It

 3. Wee Willie's First Haircut

 4. Black Cat

 5. Jes' Before Christmas

 6. Down on the Farm

 7. When My Pa Was a Boy

 8. When the Worlds Bust Through

 9. Flyin' - Not Me!

10. 'Member?

11. Wouldn't It Be a Surprise

12. In the Dark

13. I'm Tall as Ma

14. My Paw Said So

15. The Papa Hen


I want to swim, but my big Dad,

He sits me on the sand

And then he dives and swims away.

He looks just something grand.

But when I say I want to go

He gives me a big smile

And says, "Why yes, when you get big,

But now, you're just a child."

Then my Ma, she goes out, too.

She swims out to the float,

But I must stay right by the shore

And sail my little boat.

I'll tell you what I think I'll do

When I get big and tall.

I'll swim away to China-land

And I won't come back at all.

What They Call It

Grandma says we're right in style

a-sitting in our auty-mo-bile.

Grandpa says we're fit to kill

a-riding in our auty-mo-bill.


Ma says we ought to feel

Grateful for our auty-mo-beel.


Pa says there ain't no other man

Kin run an auto like he can.

Uncle Bill says he ain't seen

Nowhere such a grand machine.

Brother Jim keeps a braggin'

About the speed of our new wagon.

But oh it sounds so grand and noble

When Sister Sue says auty-moble.


Wee Willy's First Hair Cut

Last Friday, Wee Willie Went to the barbershop with me

And the colored barber bowed most graciously

And asked the little fellow

How should he cut his curls?

Close to his head?

Or very short?

Or layered like little girls?

"My hair, please barber sir

Just like my own dear Daddy's

With a small round hole on the top."

Black Cat

As you know,

to be a black cat

has always been an honor.

Men feared us

and women turned pale at our sight.

But now I am the only one

left to tell the tale.

Black cat

we have claws.

Let us get him.

Jes' Before Christmas

Father calls me William. 

Sister calls me Will.

Mother calls me Willie, 

but the fellows call me Bill.

Might glad I ain't a girl;

I'd ruther be a boy

Without them sashes, curls an' things

That's worn by Fauntleroy.

I love to chunk green apples

an' go swimming in the lake.

Hate to take the castor oil

they give for tummy ache.

Most all the year around

there ain't no flies on me

but jes' before Christmas,

I'm as good as I can be.

For Christmas with its bats and balls,

lots of candy, cake, and toys

was made, they say, for proper kids

and not for naughty girls and boys.

So wash yer face and brush your hair

and mind your p's and q's.

And don't bust out your breeches

or wear out your shoes.

And when there's company, don't pass your plate again

but think of things you'd like to see upon that tree

and jes' before Christmas be as good as you can be.

Down on the Farm

Of course I like our auto car

That Daddy drives around

But when I went to Grandma's house

Guess what else I found.

I will not tell just what it was

But it would go for miles

And I would sit upon its back

And jump the big sand piles.

It never tried to stall or balk

And never had a flat.

It never needed gasoline

To make it go like that.

And so I'm only glad, you see,

When I am there to stay.

To ride that horse from morn 'till night --

Oh, I've told it all, you see!

When My Pa Was a Boy

I wish I'd been here when my pa was a boy.

There must have been excitement then

When my pa was a boy.

In school he always took the prize.

He used to lick boys twice his size.

I bet folks all had bulging eyes

When my Pa was a boy.

There was a lot of wonders done

When my Pa was a boy.

How Grandpa must have loved his son

When my Pa was a boy.

He'd get the coal and chop the wood

And think up every way he could,

Always just be sweet and good

When my Pa was a boy.

Everything was in its place then

When my Pa was a boy.

How he could wrassle, jump, and roll

When my Pa was a boy.

He never disobeyed. He beat 'em in every game he played.

Gee, what a record they made

When my Pa was a boy.

I wish I could have been here

When my Pa was a boy.

There'll never be his like again,

Pa was the model boy.

But still last night I heard my Ma raise her voice

and call my Pa the biggest fool she ever saw.

He ought of stayed a boy.

When the World Busts Through

Where's a feller goin'

And what's he gonna do

And how's he gonna do it

When the World busts through?


Ma says she jes' don't know

What we're gonna do

And Pa says he's skeered

Clean plumb through.


Suppose we'd be a playin' out in the street

And the ground 'ud split open 50 feet.

Ma says she jes' knows we'd tumble in,

And Pa says he bet we wouldn't grin.


And then suppose we'd be a playing in the barn so tall

And lightning would strike And kill kids and all,

Says Pa.


So where's a feller goin'

And what's he gonna do

And how's he gonna do it

When the World busts through?

Flyin' - Not Me!

Say, cap, you knows me

And you knows I'll do

Jes what ole Dixie tells me to

But deres one job dat I fo-see

Ain't gwin to tax hitself on me.

Dats dem dere flyin' aireplanes.

Naw sir boss!

I'll drive yo kickin' mule or hoss

Do yo cooking, clean your gun,

But I ai't flirtng with no sun.

And [      ] a mile or two is fun?

Uh- uh- not me.

I ain't goin' up there where the crows

Will git my wool caught in their toes

An' smooth this feller out his clothes.

Uh- uh- not me.

In Dixie I sees the light of day.

In Dixie is where I'm gonna stay

And when I does that loop-de-loop

I'll twist it 'round some chicken coop.

I like to "howdy" folks I meet

And chat to all de gals on the street.

Ain't nuffin' up der to eat.

Uh- uh- not me.

When [      ] trees grows on planet Mars

And gravy drips from all de stars

And chickens scratch the Milky Way

And melons grow where spirits stay

I'll rise and sail but 'till that day

Uh- uh- not me.

So I'll hang around 'till ol' Gabriel brings

Those good ol' fashion angel wings,

And I'll strap them on and then on high

I'll pass them buzzin' airplanes by

And shout in Glory from de sky.

Uh- uh- not me!


Member awful long ago

Most a million weeks or so

How we tried to run away

And was gone for most the day?

Your Pa found us both and then

Asked if we'd be bad agin

And we promised by-and-by.

Do you remember? So do I.

Member when I tried to crawl

Through that rat hole in your wall

And I got stuck because my head was too large.

Your mother said when she came to pull me through.

And I's surprised you didn't try it, too,

An' you did, by-and-by.

Member? Do you? So do I.

Member when your mother said

'At she wished I'd run an' do

All the mischief in my head

All at onct and get it through?

S'pose we did!

Why maybe then

We could do it all again!

Guess we could if we should try

Will you sometime?

So will I!

Wouldn't it Be a Surprise

If for one week from morn till night

All boys and girls would be polite

And not get cross or scold or fret

And do what they're told and not forget

To hang up coats and hats with care

Nor throw their books upon a chair

Nor think about their play and fun

Until their work was neatly done.

If they'd all study hard in school,

Keep outa' mischief and mind each rule.

If hands were scrubbed clean all the while

And faces wore a pleasant smile.

Say wouldn't teacher open her eyes

And our parents have a big surprise.

They either for the doctor send

Or think the world was about to end.

In the Dark

Mother pushed the button

That turned out the light,

Said I'd been a bad boy tonight.

But I don't care if I can't see

When everyone looks cross at me.

The man in the moon is looking down

And even he is wearing a frown.

I wish she'd come in soon

And press the button that turns out the moon.

I'm Tall as Ma

Did you know I was as tall as Ma?

Am! Pa measured me and you ask Pa.

Ma wouldn't believe me says,

"The idea of that boy being as tall as me."

And Pa, he teased Ma, told her that she

Was the baby now of our family.

I tried to love Ma same as before,

But she says, "You can't be baby no more."

It tickles my Pa for me to be 

Taller than Ma, and it tickles me

'Cause you see, I know it's my only chance,

Next suit I get, I'll wear long pants.

My Pa Said So

Foxes can talk if you know how to listen.

Owls have big eyes that sparkle and glisten.

My Pa said so.

Bears can turn flips and climb around trees

And steal all the honey from all of the bees.

My Pa said so.

Girls is scairt of a snake but boys ain't.

Boys would be 'shamed to act that way

When all the snake wants to do is play.

My Pa said so.

All these animals found in the woods

Ain't always ferocious, most times they're good.

The trouble is mostly they're misunderstood.

My Pa said so.

Maybe foxes don't talk to folks like you,

And bears never show you the tricks they can do,

But I know the stories I'm telling are true.

'Cause my Pa said so.

The Papa Hen

The mamma hen sits way up high

Up on her little nest

And pretty soon there'll be an egg

But the Papa hen, he sticks out his chest

And kicks the sand with his legs.

And if he finds a worm or bug

He hollers Quick, Quick, Quick

But he eats it up himself or else it's only a stick.

I'll bet if I was a Papa Hen, so handsome and so stout,

I'd lay some eggs myself and then I'd have something to holler about.

Anchor 1
Anchor 2
Anchor 3
Anchor 4

James Arthur Skipper, Jr. was born at England, Lonoke County, Arkansas on November 7, 1921. In June of 1944, at the age of 22, he was drafted for World War II. Though he could have claimed a "family exemption," he wanted to serve.

In June of 1945, the cargo plane he was flying in was shot down.

There were no survivors.

Anchor 5
Anchor 6
Anchor 7
Anchor 8
Anchor 9
Anchor 10
Anchor 11
Anchor 12
Anchor 13
Anchor 14
Anchor 15
art deco up arrow.png
bottom of page