Mountain View Cemetery, Oakland, CA (2021)

In winter

Friends are sad

Some crumbling

The candle wick

Organ of perception

We are our social relations

What is that

A star a star

Feet freezing

I may have skipped a step

The cemetery

I felt so happy

I didn’t stop for coffee

Then the shadows vanished

Glasses aren’t that bad

Lara sewed this notebook

All the small stuff

Birds are in the berry bush


The way some plants bloom then collapse

Is that mountain Tam

We’re jammin’

Splaying radially

I do love craft

Planning vs organic

I wish I were a gym rat

Stone slabs in the grass

Yesterday I loved it so much

The ground

The precarity of where

We carved words

I started thinking about buying a lily

Organ of communication

There’s so much of that

Bright pink plastic fades to black

The decorated graves

Are we too late

Somewhere off site

Ride-on lawn mower

Sump pump

Anything tinny

But the air here

By a headstone

Late in the day

Sun in the west

I want to understand the ache as I want to understand the collective

Redwood cedar magnolia oak

Is this lexicon dying?

All my aging is around my eyes

Stop smiling

In the cemetery in the city

What was that

Is it a note

It isn’t easy sitting

No stress in the cemetery


I loved where I was


Where is the fucking affordable housing

Back against a stone

Flex and extend

Rough like a duck

The hills are green again

Winter wonder in the west

I can’t not say it yet

Crude thinking

Betrays a deep naivete

You wish

Berry bush

Bottle top


I can handle it

There’s a kind of bunching at the top

Gleaming like teeth

All this time went by

Shadows reaching east


Innovation my foot

Fruit smoothie

Shapes in the century

We distinguish between good and bad jobs because we think it helps

Assertive squirrel work

A line of thought and I’m lost


A perpetual point of pain

Palm tree is a green fountain

Even when not your home

A grey bird landed

Like pale stones in a row

The monument with a bronze buck atop a rock outcrop

Why is that abandoned

Can’t integrate it

I see the port cranes and the different 80s

Palm elm cypress eucalyptus

The light left


Split the difference

For a minute

I did warm up walking

People talk

Oh god that balsam

Looped Local Roads

We didn’t say faded

when I got high.


In Sharing Nature with Children one exercise

was to lie beneath a tree, cover

oneself in leaves and listen

with all the senses.


That GIF of Homer Simpson

disappearing into the hedge.



stance is compassion.


I didn’t see anyone

on the street doesn’t mean

I wasn’t seen.


The transition from day to

night is so mysterious –

how does it happen. That is, in reference to

direction gradation pace or source.


What archaism maintains us.


Walking in the mountain town

at dusk, I encountered other structures

like wave at the traffic, low lights that mark

a walkway, looped local roads.

Melissa Mack is a writer, mostly of poetry. Her publications include the full-length collection, The Next Crystal Text (Timeless, Infinite Light), a chapbook, Includes All Strangers (Hooke Press), and poems published in anthologies such as The Town: An Anthology of Oakland Poets (Nomadic Press) and journals such as Elderly and The Capilano Review. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Literature at the University of California, Santa Cruz.