Available from Jane's Boy Press:
And the Moon is Full Tonight
Release Date: November 7, 2014
50 pages, paperback
A Pushcart-Prize nominated poet and 2015 winner of the Allen Ginsberg Award, CJ Southworth teaches English at SUNY Jefferson in Watertown, NY. His work has appeared in over 20 publications, including Assaracus, Main Street Rag, Weave, The Paterson Literary Review, and many others. In 2014, he founded Jane's Boy Press with the intention of promoting new, emerging, and established poets. When not focusing on his teaching or writing careers. He earned his doctoral degree from SUNY Binghamton in spring 2016. Born Carlton D. Fisher, he officially changed his name in May of 2016 to honor his grandparents and mother, who raised him.
She said it was the humane thing to do,
and I didn’t know there were more humane ways
that we couldn’t afford,
especially for just a barn cat,
so I filled the bucket with water,
and tried to get the temperature just right
so it would be like a warm bath--
not scalding like the one his mother had fallen into
when she was a kitten,
burning off half her fur and healing her nipples over
so that he was the only one to survive
out of the litter of eight.
And once it was bath temperature,
I picked Buddy up,
with his one clubbed paw
that had gotten caught once
in the gutter cleaner chain, but healed,
and I lowered him into the bucket,
because my mom said it was the humane thing to do,
because if you don’t stop distemper
it will spread to all the cats,
and they will all get lethargic and quiet
and sniffle and slowly, slowly
just stop living,
but it will be painful and awful and long.
And I watched, as he twitched a little bit,
not thinking, at eight,
that the water was filling his lungs,
that this wasn’t like just softly going to sleep,
but the distemper had made him too weak to do much more
than flinch a little bit beneath the surface,
wouldn’t even allow him to lift his head above the water,
and when it was over,
I pulled him out of the bucket
and laid him on the towel--
Buddy, who was just a barn cat,
like every other barn cat,
each one of which I had a name for
had held from the day they were born,
had watched as they opened their eyes
and went from dragging their fat kitten bellies
along the bottoms of boxes
to running between the dandelions on warmer spring days.
I wrapped the towel over him,
and left him for my father
who would spread him on the field
like other things we no longer had use for,
not thinking, at eight,
that the coy dogs would come
and drag the body off.
I did it because my mother asked,
because she said it was the humane thing to do.
-from And the Moon is Full Tonight
“You were driving a red truck,
and you turned without your signal on,
but you saw me on the corner,
and I thought you smiled.
If you did, hit me up
you made me smile too.”
“You were jogging in the rain
at the entrance to the park
while I was walking my dog.
You said hello,
and I just didn’t know what to say.
You were so beautiful.
Please tell me you saw me too.”
“You were looking for the right kind of chips,
And I helped you find them.
Your eyes were so deep I didn’t know
how to tell you what I really wanted to,
but I’m saying it now.
If you’re reading.
I can’t stop thinking of you.”
All these moments of lives touching,
glancing off one another.
If I could post my own
it would say:
“You were walking out the door,
and I was screaming that all I wanted
was for you to go.
But that wasn’t what I meant,
and I thought you of all people would know that.
And by time I meant to say I was sorry,
you were too far away to hear.”
If you’re reading,
I mean it now.
- from And the Moon is Full Tonight