Wild Greens

Volume I, Issue iv

Obsession

Wild Greens 1, no. 4 (February 2021)

Obsession

Welcome to the February 2021 issue of Wild Greens

Two dozen roses tangled like vines behind the garden, thorns sharp as needles. Red construction paper valentines with the letters cut out like ransom notes. Candy hearts with the messages, TXT ME, then— PLS TXT ME, then— Y WON'T U TXT ME—piles upon piles of them, like poison. Welcome to Wild Greens dark-take-on-Valentine’s-Day-issue, themed love Obsession.

Obsession is about returning to ideas, emotions, and experiences, and all of the works in this issue think about circles, cycles, and repetition in some way. The issue has both the sweet and the sour, divided down the middle. We’ll start with the sweet.


We begin with artist Suzanne Lipovsky’s “Ode to Herringbone.” Suzanne wrote to us about how creativity and obsession are intertwined, and how her obsession with knitting has helped her stay centered during this long, more-isolated-than-usual winter. This idea is echoed in Grace Clements’ reflection that learning music can be like “taking a bath in someone else’s creativity.” Her cover of Taylor Swift’s “Betty,” a song about being “only seventeen” and learning how to ask for forgiveness for what you did, makes us want to bathe in Grace’s voice! From being “only seventeen” we move to a poem from Sam Sobel about cyclical emotions, “Circles, everywhere,” where everyday objects and experiences can bring you back to a childhood feeling. The poem makes us think of schoolyards and lemon water ice and first loves.

After Sam’s poem, we have Hayley Boyle’s short story, “The Ball.” Hayley lost her beloved dog, May, this past year, and this story is about May’s obsession—with the ball. It’s sweet and heartbreaking at the same time. Artist Sam Ken’s portrait, “Lavender Fields Forever,” perfectly captures the hope and happiness of these moments; the purity of the love that a dog has for their ball. Sam, like Grace, writes about the fear of sharing art, and yet still choosing to embrace creativity. Sam points out that the scale of social mediastrangers from anywhere in the world can comment on your art!is particularly scary. We like to think that Hare, featured in our second comic from Lauren Kimball's "Turtle and Hare" series, has quite the social media presence. Hare is "obsessed" with the latest styles.

Then, to the darker half of the issue. Douglas Hardman’s poem “Tightrope Shenanigans” on unrequited love being like walking on a tightrope: so great a risk for so little reward. Douglas wrote about his poem, “When you're in love with the idea of being in love, every red flag can look like a welcome sign.” From Douglas’s poem, we move to Geoa Geer’s poem, “Echoing eddies.” Geoa’s spellbinding poem circles through the cycle of trauma and the messy steps of healing, and it reflects on how the repetitive reliving of sexual assault trauma is both an unhealthy obsession and a useful recovery tool.

We end the issue with two works interested in technology. The first, a digital collage from Rebecca Lipperini called “Beloved Community.” Rebecca talks about the obsession with reading and rereading the transcript of a hypocritical university address. Collage, as an art form, captures all too well the gaps and holes between what was said and what was done. Frances McGrew’s poem “DOOMSCROLL” takes us to the place we all find ourselves far too often these days: the endless cycle of bad news. Our phones have become an intimately terrible place, but still, we scroll.

We hope that scrolling through the creations in Wild Greens offers some relief from the inevitable daily doomscroll!


-Rebecca

Table of Contents

Ode to Herringbone

by Suzanne Lipovsky


Knitting, yarn


Methods: Herringbone pattern on straight needles with color blocking


Inspiration: Knitting has become an artistic obsession for me, especially in winter and the era of COVID-19. I was inspired by the low temperatures and the beauty of the herringbone design to knit this scarf that is both functional and stylish for cold weather. Once I was able to visualize what it looked like in my mind, I obsessed over bringing it to life.

Grace Clements "Betty, I'm obsessed" - 1:24:21, 5.48 PM.mp3

"Betty, I'm Obsessed"

by Grace Clements


Written by Taylor Swift and William Bowery(2020)

For mobile listeners: Pressing "play" will open a new tab. As long as you keep the tab open, most phones will allow you to listen to the song while you explore the rest of the issue in a separate tab!


For desktop listeners: Press "play" and listen while you explore the rest of the issue!

Inspiration: As a music therapist and self-deemed creative person, I am often thinking about, you guessed it, creativity. I was recently talking with a friend about, “When did we learn art had to be 'good' to share with others? Was it the development of our ego? Was it that one music teacher who wanted everyone to sound exactly the same? Was it our parents?”


This idea also keeps us from creating because we are worried (I AM AT LEAST!) that it won’t be good enough. If it’s not good enough then??? Then??? We just die of embarrassment, I guess.


Whoever it was, this idea has seeped into my brain like… like the new Taylor Swift album?


The idea of Wild Greens has been so refreshing and has encouraged me to share more of myself. In thinking about “obsession,” I realized I kind of missed being obsessive about music. I remember spending hours in the practice room figuring out transcriptions of drum solos, and it felt like taking a bath in someone else’s creativity. So I enjoyed spending more time than usual learning this song, becoming obsessed with it, starting to hate it, and then liking it again. So from obsession, I move to acceptance of whatever this sounds like.

Pull down for lyrics

Verse 1

Betty, I won't make assumptions

About why you switched your homeroom

But, I think it's 'cause of me

Betty, one time I was riding on my skateboard

When I passed your house

It's like I couldn't breathe


Pre-Chorus

You heard the rumors from Inez

You can't believe a word she says

Most times, but this time, it was true

The worst thing that I ever did

Was what I did to you


Chorus

But if I just showed up at your party

Would you have me? Would you want me?

Would you tell me to go fuck myself

Or lead me to the garden?

In the garden, would you trust me

If I told you it was just a summer thing?

I'm only 17, I don't know anything

But I know I miss you


Verse 2

Betty, I know where it all went wrong

Your favorite song was playing

From the far side of the gym

I was nowhere to be found

I hate the crowds, you know that

Plus, I saw you dance with him


Pre-Chorus

You heard the rumors from Inez

You can't believe a word she says

Most times, but this time, it was true

The worst thing that I ever did

Was what I did to you


Chorus

But if I just showed up at your party

Would you have me? Would you want me?

Would you tell me to go fuck myself

Or lead me to the garden?

In the garden, would you trust me

If I told you it was just a summer thing?

I'm only 17, I don't know anything

But I know I miss you


Bridge

I was walking home on broken cobblestones

Just thinking of you

When she pulled up

Like a figment of my worst intentions

She said, "James, get in, let's drive"

Those days turned into nights

Slept next to her, but

I dreamt of you all summer long


Verse 3

Betty, I'm here on your doorstep

And I planned it out for weeks now

But it's finally sinking in

Betty, right now is the last time

I can dream about what happens

When you see my face again

The only thing I wanna do

Is make it up to you


Pre Chorus

So, I showed up at your party

Yeah, I showed up at your party

Yeah, I showed up at your party

Will you have me? Will you love me?

Will you kiss me on the porch in front of all your stupid friends?

If you kiss me, will it be just like I dreamed it?

Will it patch your broken wings?

I'm only 17, I don't know anything

But I know I miss you


Outro

Standing in your cardigan

Kissing in my car again

Stopped at a streetlight

You know I miss you

Circles, everywhere

by Sam Sobel


I love the round shapes

that bugs make in chewed leaves,

the symmetry of their feast.


It’s like mealworms know

about the nurture found in loss,

the way librarians punch holes


in index cards for water ice,

or the way kids spin like drunks

searching for dizzy vision.


I look for these small circles

and see them in everything:

in airbrushed haloes


on t-shirts for dead loved ones,

in books about hungry caterpillars,

in the dimes I seem to find


everytime I write about you;

the coin a bug punched out

and deemed ours.

The Ball

by Hayley Boyle


Once, in the early days after we adopted her, and when I was still getting to know this miraculously beautiful dog in her skittish and distrustful-of-most-humans teenage phase, I tried a fake out. I picked up the ball, and wound-up my best impersonation of a pitcher, stretching my arm out to full extension, then pulling my arm back behind me with the ball still in hand.


Most dogs fall for this sort of trick. They go running with excitement, and search, completely bewildered by why they can’t seem to see or smell their beloved ball.


But not May.


She was far too smart for that kind of trickery, and with her eyes locked onto the greenish-yellow of the tennis ball she feigned a step away from me, tensed her muscles, and froze except for small, almost imperceptible twitches in her hind-quarters from the build-up of anticipation. She knew that I hadn’t thrown the ball. And after I said, jokingly, “Well, come on! Go get it!” and pointed out to the yard, as if I had thrown it, she let out a howl of disappointment. Almost as if she was correcting me, talking back, telling me what a dummy I was and that the ball was clearly still behind my back and I better let it go flying across the yard this time or else I’d be in real trouble.


And so I let the ball fly, and, almost simultaneously, she flew after it.

[Expand to read more]

She came running back to me, breathing heavily, smiling—although maybe the smile was in my head. Her tongue was lolling out to one side, and she was gnashing the tennis ball in her teeth like a hyena with a fresh kill. Only she was far less intimidating than a hyena, albeit, at times, probably just as stinky.


Her tail wagged with the rhythm of the trees rustling in the early summer breeze. She looked up to me, made eye contact, dropped the ball, with her nose pointing to it as it bounced once, twice, then came to a stop at the toes of my sneakered feet. She then glanced back up at me, so briefly that I nearly missed it. She had determined that I was taking too long to bend down and pick up the ball. She took a step back, then another, although never averting her eyes from it, before letting out a rumbling “ahhh-wooofff!” in what I could tell was pure exasperation at my too-slow, human-paced reaction time.


I chuckled at her mini-temper tantrum. I never moved fast enough for her, and she never let me forget it.


And so I picked up the ball once again. Her head jerked up, following the ball with laser-focused precision, never letting it out of her sight.


I groaned at the wet mess of nylon hairs and dirt and slobber that I was holding in my hand. How could she possibly want to chase this stupid piece of rubber? But I threw it, as far and fast as I could muster, despite my disgust. Because she loved it. And I loved her.


She sprung up, and because, more often than not, she was fast enough to beat it to its final resting place, she ran the ball down and caught it before it hit the ground. To this day, I’m still convinced that dog teleported, because there’s no other explicable way she could move as fast as she did.


She came loping back to me, gnashing the ball yet again—now even grosser than the previous throw—wagging her tail, sun gleaming off her brilliant burnt sienna coat.


* * *


This was how it went. Ten times. One hundred times. A thousand times? Most days I’d lose count. I’d tire of the ritual before she would, and have to give her the bad news, “That’s all. Time to go inside. Drop your ball.”


She’d look dejected, her tail would droop, she’d lower her head and place the ball down so gingerly, like it had suddenly turned to glass and she was worried that this time it wouldn’t bounce, but break. She’d take a few steps away from where the ball lay still, lonely in the middle of the stone path in our backyard. She’d move toward the back porch, but before bounding up the steps to the house, she’d look back at it, as if to say, “Don’t worry. I’ll be back to play with you again tomorrow.”


More often than not she’d hear the command, “Time to go inside, drop your ball” and instead of following instructions, her obstinate side would surface. She’d instead bound up the porch steps with ball in mouth, signaling that, no, the ball comes with me. And I’d have to correct her, “No. Drop it.” The wet mess of rubber and nylon and dirt was an outside toy.


She only got away with this ploy once, after I turned my back while opening the door, and she slunk into the house, thinking she had pulled the wool over my eyes. She plopped her body down on the carpet and went to town gnashing the ball, tossing her head up and down as she did. “May, I said no! The ball stays outside.” And she turned from excited pup to dejected dog for being reprimanded as I scooped the ball up and tossed it out the back door.


* * *


As she aged, she got slower in most things, sometimes even needing to be coaxed from a nap in order to go outside for a bathroom break. But she never tired of chasing the ball, although giving up at times well before I was ready to tell her it was time to go back inside. Then, maybe ten throws, and by the eleventh, she’d bound up the porch steps with the ball still in her mouth as she had a thousand times before, as if to say, “Thanks, but that’s enough for today. This old gal is ready for another nap.”


Even so, a cheery, “Where’s your ball?” would trigger a tail wag and dash to the back door, her furrowed brow and hazel eyes glancing back at me, that predictable impatient “ahhh-woof,” scolding me for moving too slow, all the way up to her last days.


Then, in those last few days, when she could no longer muster the strength to stand, let alone walk or run, her big, soft paws still twitched in her sleep. And I would bet everything I have that she was dreaming about chasing the ball.


The ball was everything—her one true love. Or, maybe, it wasn’t the ball. Maybe the ball was just the thing that produced the time we spent together, and that’s what she really loved.

Lavender Fields Forever

by Sam Ken


Oil paint on 14x18 stretched canvas


Methods: Alla prima


Inspiration: Since early 2020, friends and family have commissioned me to paint their pets. In December of 2020, I set up an Etsy store and have been trying to grow my art and business more formally. Pet portraits have become my specialty and this painting is a recent commission. I've always been passionate about painting, and I have found that I particularly love painting dogs. It's always important to find the right pose, the right colors, and the right technique to be able to effectively capture an important member of someone's family. I’m not afraid to say that my passion to create something beautiful, something that I am proud of, has become an obsession.


That creative obsession is a sanctuary for inspiration and imagination, but it has also become a haven for doubt. I think as a relatively new artist, I am susceptible to a heavy reliance on praise and affirmation. Social media helps to connect me to people and help me grow my business, but it can have negative consequences too. That's why it's so important to ensure my passion stays positivethat I stay positive and not allow my doubts to corrupt my passion. I need to remember to enjoy the little things and not obsess over trivial things.


The person who commissioned this painting absolutely loves it, and that is all that matters in the end. I was able to share his devotion to his dog by investing my time in this creative process. I want "Lavender Fields Forever" to convey both longing and peace through the juxtaposition of elements but most of all, hope and happiness in the little things.

Styles of 2021

by Lauren Kimball


Digital stylus


Tightrope Shenanigans


by Douglas Hardman

Echoing eddies

by Geoa Geer


cw: sexual assault


Lying in the grass, tummy warm in the sun, loud chatter across the river bisecting this New Zealand city, loud and beautiful and touch while the rest of the world waits inside, still and waiting and remembering.


Sexual assault comes up, again and again, drifting and heavy in my thoughts and shoulders. It felt gone and then, last night, drinks and laughter and words winding down this path, again-again, worn steps and memories of all the times I supported myself and my friends and you through this nightmare.


Listening and remembering, appreciating the lights and greys and the repeating, tessellating darkness of it all. Lights sparking through depths, shining and deep or wavering and watery, water running across my esophagus, coughing, hacking, gone.


It's never as simple, never as cut paste done, fixed ready gone, not as rare, not as never, not as forgotten as I want it to be, the taste lingering too long on our tongues and words and logic, misty brains focused, endlessly, repeating in circles the trauma once had and continue to hold, echoes twisting and cold.


No comfort taken in “but I said yes” to the hurt inside, the dirt the gross the sweat the squirm she remembers and feels and yet, still, empty and skin and swirling grey.


Learning no, encouraging no, trusting that no is no and not...an invitation. Convincing convincing convinced, fine. Trusting that no isn’t the last we’ll ever touch, fear-anxiety crumbling into broken and sad-hurt rhythms, forever.


Or yes, echoing the same, off tune and kilter.


Obsession obsession, again and again it returns, my words heard on other quiet angry tongues, regret and sad and wonder, the why, really, always returning, pressing me down, the vastness of the problem making my chest tight, COVID but not, anxiety helpless need, forgotten but never.


One time, an assaulter spoke to me and his grief was real, same feelings, different side to my own.


He told me he was filled with church and fear and shame when he assaulted her, years of blurred lines and unclear everything between them, dating but not, and then hands down her pants and then stuttering, shuddering no after the angry first few minutes of shock. Friendship fractured and lost in a moment, aching-gone, trust, disgust, regret, shame, and now just… why.


Circling around the why, the weight of his church's abstinence burned onto his fingers and heart, wishing he had had words and kindness, not shame, guiding him, then and now, and always.


They talk again now, he says, sadly and happily. Years passed and she reached out, missing him and empty a little, trauma gone but not forgotten, imprinted on her and him and them, both, together but separate and aching, still, lights dimmed and grey and different but still–alive. I guess. So I’m told.


Haunted new lives, echoing circles and broken new paths, twisting inside and around, hurt and new and truth, new life new vibe who dis, same words different voices, tired–


It was my fault, I overreacted–


I said no but I guess–


what even why did this even happen why–


I wish she had just–


I just wish they could, understand,


silence, and


I wish I could just not.


I wish to live, and I do, love and sex and light and hope, lying on the grass, back warm, listening to people chat and be, safe, tiny river gurgling happily beside me in this moment. Circles broken and eddies wafting, sadness eyes grey and circling my heart. Wishing and wishing and stepping beyond. It must be obsession, I think, returning to this spot, this memory-space worn thin, the words sharp and dull, different each time I return, but comfortable somehow nonetheless. Returning returning and turning away, again, leaving the weight for another day, another time, another laundry list of words and wishes and eddies, swirling, angry, gone.


I stand, grass between my toes and falling limply off my clothes.

Beloved Community

by Rebecca Lipperini


Transcript of the first University Senate Address by Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway and a personal email.


Methods: I used Snapchat to digitally cut and paste together parts of the address into a collage.


Inspiration: The very same morning I found out every single one of the Part-Time Lecturers (called PTLs) in the Rutgers Writing Program was let go for the spring, the new President of Rutgers published his University Senate Address. I became obsessed with it, reading the transcript over and over again, and eventually cutting and pasting together this collage. In the address, he was silent on the firing of Writing Program PTLs, but he announced, among other things, the creation of two new senior administrative positions, and the securing of a $15 million grant. The juxtaposition of the so-called "beloved community" of Rutgers (his words) with the same-day firing of its most vulnerable and lowest paid workers during a pandemic enraged me, and in a fury, I made this collage. I digitally cut and pasted language from the President's address along with the email where I found out the PTLs had been fired. By making the collage on one canvas, I wanted to bring together what the President of Rutgers had ignored in his address. As I was creating it, I was struck with how collage is in some ways a method of close reading, one that looks for repetition, juxtapositions, denotation, connotation, and incongruities.

DOOMSCROLL

by Frances McGrew


Eyes crack open,

daylight awakened from dreams - just barely.

Reach across to your partner and past

to the little table, and yank

your phone off life support, notifications trilling

their existence


Fingers sleep-stiffened and clumsy,

yet practiced, with muscle memory

flip first to your vanity apps where

you play the generous benefactor,

doling out likes indiscriminately.

This is a gentle addiction – playful fixation.


But soon you’ll see it –

a close-minded post, a thoughtless comment,

announcements by relatives

who just want to play the devil’s advocate.

It fuels a warp-speed jump to headlines.

What’s new? What orchestrated chaos occurred

while you were dreaming?


Then, coffee consumed mindlessly while

reading pieces composed to provoke anger.

You devour a Homeric thread

by something called a Bean Dad.

Resolutions made to axe screen time

hastily discarded because

alerts and updates are clamoring with more on and just in.


Minutes and hours whistled away

to the tune of unconscious consumption.

Minds frayed with the constant input of calamity –

shot through with gold notes of optimism

quickly buried by doom,

and still you scroll.

Artists and Contributors

Suzanne Lipovsky
(she/her/hers)

Artist

Suzanne lives in Philadelphia and works to train aspiring school leaders. Some of her "free time" passions include music, public policy, pop culture references, hiking, traveling, and cooking. Suzanne enjoys learning about things outside of her wheelhouse, which led her in recent years to learn to knit, crochet, and embroider (which have all become great stress relievers during a pandemic).

Grace Clements
(she/her/hers)

Musician & Music Therapist

Grace is a board-certified music therapist with her master’s in music therapy from Temple University. In her 7 years as a clinician, Grace has worked with children, adolescents, and adults in a wide variety of mental health and drug and alcohol settings. She studied jazz drum set while also learning piano, voice, and guitar.


Grace deeply misses playing shows with her band, Lady Parts, and has been spending time making her own art and music during the pandemic. She recently took up roller skating and is not very good at it. When she isn’t outside you can find Grace curled up on the couch with her two cats, Ray and Spike.


Show her some support! Instagram: @ladypartsphilly; Facebook: ladypartsphilly


If you like her music, send her a tip! Venmo: @grace-clements-1

Sam Sobel
(he/him/his)

Poet

Sam Sobel is an undergraduate student at Rutgers University, New Brunswick whose work has been featured in a couple of places there (The Anthologist, Writers House Review). Sam loves all aspects of language, ranging from literature to sociolinguistics, and plans on pursuing an MFA in poetry. His favorite word at the moment is lacuna which means "a hiatus, gap, or missing portion."


Show him some support! Twitter: @SobelSam


If you like his writing, send him a tip! Venmo: @Sam-Sobel-2

Hayley Boyle
(she/her/hers)

Writer & Poet

Hayley is a social justice seeker, world traveler, rock climber, dog snuggler, frisbee player, event planner, and story-teller. She loves to paint with watercolors, embroider, and write. She grew up on 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, and she wouldn't have it any other way.


You can find her on Instagram @hayley3390 or @haypaints. She takes commissions, and you can find examples of her work on her website.


If you like her writing, send her a tip! Venmo: @hayley-jeanne.

Sam Ken
(he/him/his)

Artist


Sam is a Marine Corps veteran, Air Force spouse, dog lover, and passionate artist. Currently living in Virginia. He loves to share his art with people, and wakes up everyday inspired to create something (whether it is painting, cooking, or drawing). He hopes his art will inspire people to see the beauty around them.


Show him some support! Instagram @samkenart; Facebook: @SamKenArt. View his portfolio; visit his online shop.


If you like his art, send him a tip! Venmo: @SamKenArt

Lauren Kimball
(she/her/hers)

Artist

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

Douglas Hardman
(he/him/his)

Poet

Douglas is a veterinary technician by day and a brooding lyricist/poet by night. He has a background in theatre, with a few original productions under his belt. A love of the city and hiking the Wissahickon is making Philadelphia feel like home since August 2019. He has an original writing series on YouTube called “the hideaway” where he presents his poetry and song lyrics in spoken word; while breaking down each piece, Douglas explains metaphors, inspiration, and offering vague writing tips for creative writers.


Show him some support! Instagram: @caliboynewyorkmind (personal) and @the_hideaway16 (writing)


If you like his writing, send him a tip! Venmo: @Douglas-Hardman

Geoa Geer
(she/her/hers)

Writer & Poet

Geoa has managed to wander the world, running frisbee and hanging out with cool people in Boston, LA, Colorado, Pittsburgh, Melbourne, Sydney, and now Christchurch, New Zealand. She likes dappled sunshine through the trees, is fairly convinced spirits are real, and is delighted that you might read her work.


Find her on Medium: https://sunshinehappytime.medium.com/


If you like her writing, send her a tip!

Rebecca Lipperini
(she/her/hers)

Artist

Rebecca Lipperini is a writer, teacher, and academic living in Philadelphia, and the founding editor of Wild Greens magazine (hi!). 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 video games and Shakespeare adaptations (an iconic mixture) was recently published in First Person Scholar.


You can find Rebecca on Instagram @rebeccalipperini (personal) @wildgreensmag (you already know it). She also freelances as an editor: contact her through her website www.rebeccalipperini.com if you have a project you'd like to discuss.


If you like her art, send her a tip! Venmo: @Rebecca-Lipperini

Frances McGrew
(she/her/hers)

Poet

Frances lives in Collingswood, New Jersey and spends her days working in implementations for a legal tech company. She enjoys reading, writing poetry and short fiction and playing with her French Bulldog, Finn.


Show her some support! Instagram: @fran_mcgrew


If you like her writing, send her a tip! Venmo: @Frances-McGrew

Maggie Topel
(she/her/hers)

Artist

Maggie Topel is an artist and writer living in Philadelphia. She designed our seasonal Wild Greens logo and social media avatar.