Wild Greens

Volume 4, Issue vi


Wild Greens 4, no. 6 (April 2024)


Welcome to the April 2024 issue of Wild Greens

In Soundbite, we feature overheard conversations, snippets, quotes, whispers, and silences.

“Just the Beginning,” in pen and ink by Melissa Lomax, depicts the start of a story from a multitude of cartoon creatures in thought and chat bubbles. Doug Jacquier’s short story “A couple overheard in Tenby (Wales)” is based on a real conversation overheard by the author at a bar by quite the character, dressed in a top hat with a water spaniel as his guest. The sketchbook drawing “Conversations Overheard” by Melissa Lomax captures fragments of a dressing room conversation overheard by the artist.

The creative nonfiction “Revelations in Havana” by Angie Cosey reports on an experience the author had in Cuba, and the fear of being overheard.

In Sarah Freia’s poem “A Full Heart,” meals are experienced in the sounds of cutlery, clinking glass, and conversation; what happens to those sounds when food is scarce? Afra Ahmad’s watercolor “Conversations with God” depicts inner voice, prayer, and silence.

Crystal Rivera’s poem “soundbites while waiting” responds to an overheard Instagram reel from Gaza.

“Core,” in acrylic by Afra Ahmad depicts the unknown of puzzle pieces, butterflies, and a beating heart. In “Scenery” by Blanka Pillár, the heart remembers a whisper long since past; and recreates a story by telling it over and over again.

Turtle complains about the way Hare eats in Lauren Kimball’s “Sound Bite.”

In “Salt and Strawberries,” a poem by Natalie Quiles, sweet memories of childhood are intertwined with the sting of nostalgia.

Read through, listen, tell your friends, share the tidbits, create soundbites of your own.


Just the Beginning

by Melissa Lomax

Pen, ink

Inspiration: Within this detailed piece, small doodles make up a larger drawing that leads the viewer through various chats, debates, and questions. But in this discussion, do they ever get the full story? This image was a delight to create and is also featured in the Philadelphia Cartoonist Society Anthology #3, a book of collected comics that is currently available in our shop at lomaxandpatch.bigcartel.com. 

A couple overheard in Tenby (Wales)

by Doug Jacquier

At the Buccaneer Pub, inside the walls of the old town, I’m drinking with ancients like myself, pretending to be interested in rugby while they pretend to be interested in cricket.

Neither of us fakes their distrust of royals (though it must be said that the man in the top hat and overalls, feeding his bar stool-perched water spaniel some crisps and Guinness, is a little less harsh than his mates. He would allow them to take their own lives come the revolution).

Drifting from a woman behind me comes:

“I already told you what I want but you didn’t want to buy me that!”

I turn to hear her man, all country-tied up and jacketed with leather elbows, red of face and spaniel-eyed, shout:

“Two more of the same, thank you, landlord.”

Before the next pint, I offer side bets to my new companions about how long it will take before he notices she’s been in the Ladies an awfully long time and that the pub has a back door.

“My round, convict lad,” smiles Top Hat, “because the dog thinks you're funny.”

Conversations Overheard

by Melissa Lomax

Pencil, sketchbook

Inspiration: This dressing room drawing was created for a Philly art show (a collaboration with Field Notes) where each artist captured snippets of conversations “overheard” inside their sketchbooks! It was really fun to pay more attention to the world around me and document random moments with fragments of dialogue.

Revelations in Havana 

by Angie Cosey

Rob and I strolled through the colorfully dilapidated streets of Havana, searching for an establishment to indulge our customary happy hour. Rob mentioned that we should try to find a rooftop bar and that’s when Laura stepped out of a doorway and slipped smoothly alongside us. “Come,” she said in accented English, “I know the perfect place, it is run by my cousin.”

We were seasoned enough to be wary of the ubiquitous grifters found around the world, but we’d been in Cuba for a week and had been charmed by the kindness and friendliness at every turn, from everyone we met, including the beggars and panhandlers. Laura hooked her arm in mine and led us through the narrow streets and alleyways of the old town until we ducked under a crumbling lintel and ascended a narrow staircase, emerging onto a covered terrace. A bar ran along one wall and a musician in the corner entertained the few patrons with his keyboard. 

Laura introduced herself and her husband, Roberto (“Name twins!” she exclaimed cheerfully to my boyfriend Rob). She started, as everyone we met did, with the same rote reassurance: Cuba is very safe. There are no drugs, no guns, and no mafia. We are very happy to see Americans; the problem is between our governments, not the people. We had heard it dozens of times over the course of the week, and it seemed genuinely sincere every time. The Cubans really were happy to see us. 

Laura was 27 and taught children at the local school; she’d once been a dancer in one of the tourist clubs—I didn’t ask if she meant exotic or salsa, it didn’t seem to matter—and her husband worked as a security guard at a computer center. It just so happened that today was their anniversary, and would we buy them a drink? Rob and I agreed if for no other reason than we would have this story to tell later. Also, the drinks were about 3 US dollars, so it wasn’t going to bankrupt us to be nice to our new friends, even if, as we suspected, it was their anniversary every time they met someone new.

The rooftop bar they’d guided us to had met our requirements for a view over the neighborhood, although it was almost certainly not run by Laura’s cousin based on the formal interactions we saw between her and the staff. Roberto was quiet, as his English was not as polished as his wife’s, and while we sipped our Cuba Libres, Laura told us about life in Havana. 

The Cubans get coupon books for the grocery store where they receive an allotment of staples like sugar, pasta, oil. They might get a coupon for 6 eggs per month. If they wanted more, they could buy it, but extra money was hard to come by. Electricity could and did go off without warning for days at a time, and if you didn’t have a rain barrel on your roof you might not have water for days either. Laura and Roberto had a young child at home—eight of their extended family lived in a 3-room apartment—and it was hard to change diapers in the dark with no running water.

Most Cubans now have mobile phones, though they hadn’t gotten the internet until 2015 and it was still heavily regulated. Milk, it seemed, was one of the hardest things to come by: everyone wanted to buy it, and no one could afford it. After Rob paid for the drinks, Laura hinted none too subtly that she didn’t have enough milk to feed her baby and we—having expected that this is how our interaction would end—handed over around 160 Cuban pesos, the equivalent of about 8 US dollars. 

As we were getting ready to leave, Rob turned to Laura and asked the question that had been on our minds every time we heard another of these stories or got another request for money to buy some child milk. “If things are so bad, why don’t you—” 

“Stop!” Laura interrupted. “I know what you’re going to say and please don’t say it. If anyone hears us it would be a minimum of three years in jail for us.”

Rob and I fell silent, both thinking the same thing. Was the threat of jail for even discussing the idea of change worth living an entire life without reliable water or electricity or milk for your child? Evidently, Laura felt that it was. And evidently, there was more to the story—the entire country—than we could understand after one superficial conversation with one local couple. 

As I considered it more, I also realized the power of a stray word, of random eavesdropping. Overhearing our conversation about where to have happy hour had netted this couple drinks in a nice bar and some milk money. Being overheard, in turn, could be personally disastrous for them. Such a fine balancing act they were walking—a skill that they, who had spent their entire lives in the paradigm of Communism, had developed without, I’m sure, even knowing what they were doing.

A Full Heart

by Sarah Freia

I loveto be fed with moments of merriment;an aria of assembly, performedby clinking glasses and clanging plattersfilling the room with sweet satiation. 
Yet, in times when only my heart is full,and I am starved of all but affection,the melody of meeting is muted, and I cannot stomach being with thoseI love.

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Conversations with God

by Afra Ahmad


Photo by author

Editor's note: if reading on mobile turn phone to landscape mode for best viewing.

soundbites while waiting 

by Crystal Rivera

I am waiting for fresh green, chickpeasto be delivered straightto my door. And as I wait,like all mornings,I log onto IG and there it is–there she is    the sound of Bisan’s voicebreaking.
And this time she doesn’t say what day it is, or thatshe is still alive, but somewhere in the breaking you hear ...and the only way they can get food
is to wait for food. And they–fathers and sonshave slept on the streets for weekswaiting. And I hear her say,At 4AM, someflours, and I swear I thought I heard her saysunflowersyou heard it, too, right? I place     my earcloser to her voice, closer to my phone, and desperatelyI am searching for these loudly-yellow 4AM bloomsbut instead, chills running bone-deep, she is sayingsome flours,     blood mixed      with some flourand my doorbell rings. 
At 4AM in NYC, you can find me on the floor      waitingfor my small hands to shell a pound of chickpeas.You wouldn’t know this until youbreak apart the green, but it smells of sunflowers       freshly cut,and you can hear sounds from Apt 19 of someone quietly    breaking.


by Afra Ahmad



by Blanka Pillár 

I forgive him for the little lies. The little fibs that slip away and the broken promises that go unkept. He always tells the same lies, and sometimes I believe him because the story paints itself like a vivid oil portrait; first, the figures are painted, then the background, then the corners, edges, contours, and finally, it becomes as if it were a real scene on the canvas of life, but only the immensity of human imagination has made what could never be real. It tells me what I most desire, so I reach for it with all my heart, stretching out my soul’s arms to preserve all his lips whisper and hold it within me for eternity. I love him with all my heart, but when my reality is keen-eyed, it sometimes smells like the scratch of jagged-edged infidelities in the dawning light or the wistful night. The cold realization slips into bed beside me or touches me as I walk.

Today we take it into our heads to walk around the riverbank. We get caught in the cool January breeze, and he starts coughing. I take off my thin pink cotton scarf and wrap it around his neck with careful movements. He gives me a weak half-smile and walks on. My chest gets hot, even though my whole body is shivering from the winter’s minus temperatures.

Sometimes we stop. We look at the broken-legged seagulls on the slippery waterfront stones, the sloppy sidewalk ahead, and the footprints of giddy pedestrians. He rubs his hand as we spy on one of the old buildings covered in melted snow. His fingertips are almost purple, so I tug off my black fabric gloves and slip them on his frosty palms. He thanks me quietly. His silent words creep into my consciousness like angelically soft notes, wrapping my trembling body in a gentle embrace. 

The milky-white sky opens, and it drizzles, but we are unperturbed. We sit on a stinging bench and stare silently at the glistening toes of our wet boots as they tread the snowy ground before us. Somewhere in the distance, expensive hand-painted plates clink, light pages of newspapers crinkle in the city breeze, the iron bells of a dilapidated church jingle, and a delicious golden-skinned duck in a warm oven is being prepared. 

I feel him move beside me, and I put my head down. He sways back and forth with folded arms while tiny particles of dripping snow fall on his knitted flame-red Angora sweater. I slip my thin arms out of my expensive loden-lined coat and place them on his back. He looks me in the eye. My tongue curls and confesses at seeing his delicately delineated perfect face. It humbly admits the truth it has admitted so many times before and hopes. It hopes that, for once, its love’s answer will not be a lie. But once again, he replies, “I love you, too.” 

He utters this gracious lie delicately. I-love-you. The first syllable is trust, the second is passion, and the third is loyalty. He feels none of these, yet he testifies to them. He savors the shape of the voice. First bitter, then sour, then finally swallowed. After all, it’s only three words. But for me, it’s so much more: I put myself in his hands.

Maybe that’s not how it all happened. I’ve been sick for a while now; my lungs are weak from the January freeze. Every time I close my eyes, I try to remember our last story. Embellish it, add to it, rearrange it, change it. Maybe one day I’ll grind it to perfection, and those words won’t ring so false. Or the memory will turn yellow, like old letterhead, and no longer matter. Or maybe “I love you” will become just another fluffy saying to be whispered in the harsh winter, bored, picked up by the wind, carried far away, across the world, to where it means nothing.

Far from the eager, greedy arms of my soul.

Sound Bite

by Lauren Kimball

Digital stylus

Salt and Strawberries

by Natalie Quiles

We sprinkle sugar on strawberriessunbathing on worn bed sheets in the yardfar from the street noise, so far that time can’t touch usand the days loll long, lazy,a drunken forever.
In the magic of this afternoon she cuts sweet cucumbers for me, salted with oil and vinegar. I sit on the kitchen counter watching cartoons while she peels potatoes with a knifeas though it can’t cut her. 
I didn’t know yet how it would feel to watch the light in your eyes dimto hold you in my arms as you sob, body wracked with painfear a vice around my throat. 
I suck vinegar from my fingertips and swing my legs off the counter, hungry to go outside and step into the light.

Read about the inspiration for this month's logo on Ko-Fi.

Artists and Contributors

Melissa Lomax


Melissa Lomax (she/her) is a freelance illustrator, writer, and cartoonist, with 20 years of experience in the creative industry. Some of her clients include American Greetings, Sellers Publishing, Great Arrow Graphics, Lenox Corporation, and Highlights for Children. Her comic 'Doodle Town' posts on GoComics.com, the largest catalog of syndicated cartoons and comics. When she is not in the art studio, she enjoys spending time in nature, drinking really good coffee, and 'everyday adventures' with her husband. Pop by her Instagram @melissalomaxart for weekly inspiration!

Doug Jacquier


Doug Jacquier writes from the Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia. His work has been published in Australia, the US, the UK, Canada, New Zealand, and India. He blogs at Six Crooked Highways and is the editor of the humour site, Witcraft.

Angie Cosey


Angie (she/her) is a Pennsylvania native with a professional background in veterinary medicine and clinical research. An avid traveler for many years, she decided to quit her job in 2024 to take a travel sabbatical in order to have a more immersive experience abroad. She is currently slow-traveling in Argentina and heading next to eastern Europe. More of her travel writing can be found at angiecosey.substack.com or on instagram @angiercosey

Afra Ahmad


Afra Ahmad is a writer, poet, artist, and calligrapher. Based in Taiwan, she holds a bachelor's degree in English literature. She writes about everything under the sun: from the dark issues of society to problems faced by teenagers, to imparting chunks of wisdom through her poems, stories, and write-ups. Her works have appeared in various magazines including Iman Collective, MYM, Rather Quiet, Ice Floe Press, Olney Magazine, The Malu Zine, The Sophon Lit, Blue Minaret, Melbourne Culture Corner, Her Hearth Magazine, The Hot Pot Magazine, Ghudsavar Magazine, Moonbow Magazine, Eunoia Review, Alternate Route, Ink In Thirds, Porch Lit, Zhagaram Literary Magazine, Broken Spine Collective, Duck Duck Mongoose Magazine, Afterpast Review, Unlikely Stories, Rewrite the Stars, Spillwords, and A thin slice of anxiety.

Sarah Freia


Sarah Freia (she/her) is a multilingual author, actor, and comedian who has lived in Paris, London, and Toronto. She is a recent graduate of the The Second City, and of Sorbonne Université/ Glendon Campus’ International B.A. in French and Hispanic literature and French B.Ed program. Unable to allow herself any free time, Sarah regularly hones her craft at Gotham Writers Workshop, and is looking forward to her upcoming enrollment at Oxford University. She is rarely seen without a coffee, or a chocolate-based snack. All Socials: @sarahfreia / www.sarahfreia.com / www.sarahfreia.ca

Crystal Rivera


Crystal Rivera (they/she) is a queer poet and recipe developer from NYC. Born a Russian-Puerto Rican Jew in Queens, NY, many dishes merge cuisines into poems. You can follow them on Instagram @cookonyournerve.

Blanka Pillár


Blanka Pillár is a seventeen-year-old writer from Budapest, Hungary. She has a never-ending love for creating and an ever-lasting passion for learning. She has won several national competitions and has been an editor-in-chief of her high school’s prestigious newspaper, Eötvös Diák. Today, she is not throwing away her shot.

Lauren Kimball

Artist and Writer

Lauren Kimball (she/her) lives in Philadelphia. She teaches literature and composition at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. In her spare time, she plays with paint, digital pens, words, and home improvement tools.

You can find her comics on Instagram @turtle_n_hare_comic.

Natalie Quiles


Natalie Quiles (she/her) is a dreamer, yoga teacher, lover of greek mythology, and overall circus peanut. She earned a degree in Political Science and hasn't used it once. When she's not writing poetry, you can find her drinking too much coffee, practicing yoga, or salsa dancing. Follow her on instagram: @natalieryanxx

Jessica Doble

Poetry Editor

Jessica Doble (she/her) holds a PhD in English from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. She's published two critical works: “Hope in the Apocalypse: Narrative Perspective as Negotiation of Structural Crises in Salvage the Bones” in Xavier Review, and “Two-Sides of the Same Witchy Coin: Re-examining Belief in Witches through Jeannette Winterson’s The Daylight Gate” in All About Monsters. Her poetry has appeared in PubLab and Wild Greens magazine. 

Myra Chappius

Poetry Editor and Copyeditor

Myra Chappius (she/her) is the author of six works of fiction and poetry. While her passion lies with shorter creations, it is her aspiration to complete a full-length novel and screenplay someday. She enjoys reading, running, cinema, music, and seeing the world. When not doing mom things, she is working full-time, learning a new language, and planning her next trip. 

You can follow Myra on Instagram at @inwordform. Her work can be purchased on Amazon.

Tim Brey

Music Editor

Tim Brey (he/him) is a jazz pianist living in Philadelphia. He holds positions as Artist-in-Residence and Adjunct Faculty at Temple University and The University of the Arts, where he teaches jazz piano, music theory, and improvisation. Check out more of his music and his performance schedule at https://www.timbreymusic.com.

Jacqueline Ruvalcaba

Senior Editor

Jacqueline (she/her) edits fiction and nonfiction as the senior editor for Wild Greens magazine. She earned her BA in English and creative writing at the University of California, Riverside, and completed training as a 2021 publishing fellow with the Los Angeles Review of Books. She previously served as a co-editor for PubLab, editor for UCR's Mosaic Art and Literary Journal, and as an intern with Soho Press. In her free time, she loves to read all kinds of stories, including YA, literary fiction, sci-fi, and fantasy.

Maggie Topel


Maggie Topel (she/her) is an artist and writer living in Philadelphia. She designs our seasonal Wild Greens logos and social media avatar.

Hayley Boyle

Arts Editor

Hayley (she/her) creates the cover image for each issue of Wild Greens and serves as the Arts Editor. Hayley is a social justice seeker, world traveler, rock climber, dog snuggler, frisbee player, event planner, and storyteller. She loves to paint with watercolors, embroider, and write. She grew up reading sci-fi and fantasy, and to this day she still turns to those genres to help her make sense of the world. She calls Philadelphia home where she lives with her partner Evan and her dog Birdie, and she wouldn't have it any other way. You can find Hayley on Instagram @hayley3390.

Rebecca Lipperini


Rebecca Lipperini (she/her) is a writer, teacher, and academic living in Philadelphia, and the founding editor of Wild Greens magazine. She holds a PhD in English from Rutgers University, where she taught all kinds of classes on literature and poetry and writing, and wrote all kinds of papers on the same. Her essay on the soothing aesthetics of the supermarket was recently published in PubLab. She teaches in the Critical Writing Program at the University of Pennsylvania.

You can find Rebecca on Instagram @rebeccalipperini (personal) @wildgreensmag (you already know it).