J.J. McCafferty  


Moon's Door


Aren't you relieved when the moon's door finally swings open?

You thought maybe piles of bones would drop out,
not this waterfall of milky light.

 In a parking lot
you're writing Mercy on the dusty windows
of the cars tonight. 

Across from the black river,
you close your eyes to see

the white light
fill red rubber boots you wore when you were five.
Look, they're out there muddy on the back stoop.

They took you up and down the urgent streets
and through the rain-drenched yards, in the long days
when you knew the ones you loved would live forever.



 Tree Room


 Branches rose up and spilled a green fountain
to the ground.

Your hands grabbed hold to part them,
 making a temporary secret  door--

and you stepped barefoot into the circular
room, made by the tree that had been waiting

forever  to take you in, to show you how to be
ravished, and alone

 in silence, shade, with illuminated borders.

The shimmering walls made of leaves
knew to breathe, and nobody

knew where you were,
or how you swallowed the color green.

Down on your haunches,
Listening was praise.




Grief is a Tide That is Going Out


Some people can’t stop writing letters
to the dead. I wish I was a child dropping
these endless missives to my father
into the mailbox up on the corner,
like a five year old believing heaven
has an earthly address.

If heaven has an earthly address, it must
be inside of the yes of our no, the little windows
opening all around us that we can’t see.

I know a man who was visited in a dream
by his late friend Larry who stood in a stream
quoting Theresa of Avila.

Sometimes the dead write back
in the language of Sun. “Keep burning,
keep shining, it is why you’re alive.”

My friend Tanya from Russia watched
her dead grandfather eat pickled herring
in her Pittsburgh kitchen one night.
Wearing his underwear, he ate
with great relish, then cleaned up
the counter before his departure.

I’ve begged my father to come back
and have a drink, but he’s apparently
not thirsty anymore.




J. J. McCafferty’s  poems have recently  appeared in Chatauqua Review, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Healing Muse, Cafe Review, HeART, and others. He can be reached at janem@andrew.cmu.edu