#6 The Poetry of Walter Bishop, Jr.

The ancestor Walter Bishop, Jr. was a potent exemplar of the so-called bebop piano style. Part of modern jazz’s second wave, Bishop played with a veritable who’s who of bop and post-boppers. He left all too soon when he split in 1998, but along with his recorded output it turns out “Bish”, as he was known to friends and colleagues, also left a significant poetic legacy. Poetry was an art form about which Walter Bishop, Jr. was quite the devotee – witness his membership in the poetry society known as Poets Four. Valerie Bishop has graciously shared some of Bish’s poetry; this is the sixth installment in our series and you can locate the other five pieces in our Archives section.

By Walter Bishop, Jr.

I never wrote a song for my mother
Although I love her like no other.
They say we could pass for sister and brother,
But I never wrote a song for my Mother.

Now don’t get me wrong – I’ve written many a song…
Not nearly as much as my Father.
He’s gone on to glory but that’s another story
I never wrote a song for my Mother.

I’ve written songs like WALTZ FOR SWEETIE
Yes, indeedy,
But none of these was a song I wrote for You.

I’ve written music for a saint called Yogananda
And a city way out West.
But none of those was a song I wrote for You.

Now she’s nurtured me since infancy.
Now, Sonny Boy, no need to lay up in dat pee
For I will come and changeth the.
Eat your oatmeal, it’s good for you.
Castor oil will see you through.
Prune juice will keep you loose.
Drink all your milk… it makes your skin soft as silk.
Get ready for church, don’t keep the Lord waiting.
Get there on time and he’ll save you from Satan.

And when I engaged in outrageous behavior,
T’was She…She who would be my saviour.

Now Dad’s mad and he’ll whip my tail
But it’s you Mother who’ll go my bail.

Stop…don’t steal from your sisters, you’re giving me blisters
Trying to whack your little butt.
I’ll call it a wrap, you’re due for the strap
That’ll end all the crap.

Your astrological sign is Leo the Lion, the key word here is love;
Forthrightness, courage and efficiency; you are all of the above.
From stick-ball to Carnegie Hall, who was behind it all.
You, Mother

I’ve gotten standing ovations in distant nations…
Been on radio and TV too,
As you can see I’ve had a ball, but in spite of it all,
I never wrote a song for You…

A toast to you on this day of days,
I could never repay you for your loving ways.

Yes it’s true, I never wrote a song for You.
But one little song would never do
The song I write for thee would have to be a symphony,
And this I know to be true.

You’ll live a long time in spite of this rhyme
And you’ll never need pity as long as there’s Atlantic City.

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