Sheldon Allan Silverstein
A Boy Named Sue
Well, my daddy left home when I was three,
and he didn't leave much to Ma and me,
just this old guitar and a bottle of booze.
Now I don't blame him because he run and hid,
but the meanest thing that he ever did was
before he left he went and named me Sue.
Well, he must have thought it was quite a joke,
and it got lots of laughs from a lot of folks,
it seems I had to fight my whole life through.
Some gal would giggle and I'd get red
and some guy would laugh and I'd bust his head,
I tell you, life ain't easy for a boy named Sue.
Well, I grew up quick and I grew up mean.
My fist got hard and my wits got keen.
Roamed from town to town to hide my shame,
but I made me a vow to the moon and the stars,
I'd search the honky tonks and bars and kill
that man that gave me that awful name.
But it was Gatlinburg in mid July and I had
just hit town and my throat was dry.
I'd thought i'd stop and have myself a brew.
At an old saloon in a street of mud
and at a table dealing stud sat the dirty,
mangy dog that named me Sue.
Well, I knew that snake was my own sweet dad
from a worn-out picture that my mother had
and I knew the scar on his cheek and his evil eye.
He was big and bent and gray and old
and I looked at him and my blood ran cold,
and I said, 'My name is Sue. How do you do?
Now you're gonna die.' Yeah, that's what I told him.
Well, I hit him right between the eyes and he went down
but to my surprise he came up with a knife
and cut off a piece of my ear. But I busted a chair
right across his teeth. And we crashed through
the wall and into the street kicking and a-gouging
in the mud and the blood and the beer.
I tell you I've fought tougher men but I really can't remember when.
He kicked like a mule and bit like a crocodile.
I heard him laughin' and then I heard him cussin',
he went for his gun and I pulled mine first.
He stood there looking at me and I saw him smile.
And he said, 'Son, this world is rough and if
a man's gonna make it, he's gotta be tough
and I knew I wouldn't be there to help you along.
So I gave you that name and I said 'Goodbye'.
I knew you'd have to get tough or die. And it's
that name that helped to make you strong.'
Yeah, he said, 'Now you have just fought one
helluva fight, and I know you hate me and you've
got the right to kill me now and I wouldn't blame you
if you do. But you ought to thank me
before I die for the gravel in your guts and the spit
in your eye because I'm the guy that named you Sue.'
Yeah, what could I do? What could I do?
I got all choked up and I threw down my gun,
called him pa and he called me a son,
and I came away with a different point of view
and I think about him now and then.
Every time I tried, every time I win and if I
ever have a son I think I am gonna name him
Bill or George - anything but Sue.
Sheldon Allan Silverstein's Other Poems
Read this poem in other languages
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.
Comments about this poem (A Boy Named Sue by Sheldon Allan Silverstein )
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
(16 August 1920 – 9 March 1994)
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
Edna St. Vincent Millay
(22 February 1892 – 19 October 1950)
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
(c. 600 BCE)
(27 October 1914 – 9 November 1953)
- The Saddest Poem, Pablo Neruda
- The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
- Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, Robert Frost
- Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep, Mary Elizabeth Frye
- A Dream Within A Dream, Edgar Allan Poe
- Annabel Lee, Edgar Allan Poe
- Winter Solstice, Jacqueline C Nash
- The Raven, Edgar Allan Poe
- If You Forget Me, Pablo Neruda
- As I Grew Older, Langston Hughes
Poem of the Day
- Goodnight Prayer(For You), Michael P. McParland
- Forgive Me Please, Michael P. McParland
- Concentrate On The Game, Lawrence S. Pertillar
- Come Join Me?, Michael P. McParland
- Come Hold Me, Michael P. McParland
- Come Be With Me, Michael P. McParland
- Christmas, Michael P. McParland
- Change And Hope? What A Joke., Michael P. McParland
- Candy, Michael P. McParland
- Can I Belong?, Michael P. McParland