Mo Sudduth

i woke up in the middle of the night like an old man does most nights, thinking about the book i continue and continue to work on and had this name come into my head: “Maurice Sudduth.” Don’t know where it came from. From there, i realized someone like him should be called “Mo.” My good neighbor Spud’s real name is Maurice Mumby. My wife is often called “Mo.” But i’m not sure they had anything to do with this name popping into my head in the middle of the night.

Then, i sat down and began writing one of those things that is almost a poem, certainly not in keeping with the rules for poetry, not any of those rules but mine.

As i was writing, i looked at a quote of Colette from Casual Chance, a 1964 work of hers  i had saved on a small piece of paper and placed near my laptop: “Put down everything that comes into your head and then you’re a writer. But an author is one who can judge his own stuff’s worth, without pity, and destroy most of it.”

So be it. i am a writer. Someday, in addition to my book of poetry, which did not fare well as far as being purchased, i may be published. But i’m not sure i will ever be an author, probably not using Colette’s definition. 

But for my friends, here is what this writer wrote one middle of the night this past week:

Mo Sudduth

Mo Sudduth,
they called him Mo
came out of the South,
huffing and steaming,
he ran away, running hard,
no stop, no governor,
running away from the people and things
he knew and loved
he dreamed
of far away places,
beautiful isles —
yes, it was Fiddler’s Green,
although he didn’t know the name then
he learned —
huffing and steaming,
he ran away, running hard
into a life at sea:
swells, spume, storms, doldrums,
cold bitter winds, soft warm breezes,
sultry heat, tempests in the night,
glowing sea urchins,
dolphins, giant sea turtles, whales, sharks,
gulls, albatross
the sea spoke to him,
captured his love
with tales of the deep
all things of the sea
she owned them all
she showed him her beauty
in all her fury,  her calm,
in the dark night sky with a blanket of stars
Mo Sudduth
huffed and steamed
the huff was more of a sigh
the steaming gave way to diesel and gas turbines and such
Mo Sudduth left the sea,
returned to the South
sold home-made trinkets he carved from hickory
at a roadside stand
out front of his one room cabin
out in the country
while he drank his coffee
like the brew he drank continuously at sea
with a cigarette, long ago when he still smoked:
coffee with no additions
to spoil the dark and strong aroma and taste
one evening deep and dark
like a cloudy sea night,
he took his nightly nip of Tennessee sour mash
gave one last huff,
no longer dreaming
of his far away places,
beautiful isles,
huffing and steaming
his sea.

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