Wild Greens

Volume 4, Issue iv


Wild Greens 4, no. 4 (February 2024)


Welcome to the February 2024 issue of Wild Greens

In our Rhythms issue, we invoke the patterns in our steps, the music in poetry, the rhythm of generations.

Liz Lydic’s short story, “10,000 Steps” takes place during a workplace wellness competition, and explores the generational differences in a family. Do you feel how the repetition in this piece evokes the paces of the steppers in the story? Irina Tall (Novikova)’s collage “Untitled” considers the rhythm of life and its possibilities, from birth to death, in the form of an egg.

In LJ Ireton’s poem “Interlude,” the poet speaks to a robin who weathers the changing of the seasons, in tune with the earth’s rhythm. Melissa Lomax’s “Silly Birdies” in crayon and watercolor resist makes a puzzle pattern of birds.  

Nilsa Mariano’s poem, “You are Here,” explores silence, the winter season, and the beating heart of grief.  “Chromatic Tale” in acrylics by Afra Ahmad depicts life as a rugged cliff in a rainbow of colors and experiences. Amelia Díaz Ettinger’s poem “La Bomba” embodies the history, rhythms, and dance of an ancestor.

J.I. Kleinberg’s three visual poems, “as the moon flowers,” “emotions rhythmic,” and “your inner drum” are found and cut from paper and glued together. Together they invoke the inner rhythms of memory, uncertainty, and rage. Ian C Smith’s “Words and Music” is similarly collaged together, taking pieces of poems published throughout the poet’s life and turning them into a personal essay.

In “Live Fast Die Old,” the latest Turtle and Hare by Lauren Kimball, Turtle takes offense to a lyric.

Natalie Quiles’s poem “lychee sunscreen” transforms the rhythm of a heartbeat into a love poem. We close with Irina Tall (Novikova)’s three postcards, “Hidden spirits,” “Scarlet masks, perhaps this is a warning… Sisters,” and “They and fish” in ink and gouache. The artist compares the art on postcards to musical notes.

Take a moment to listen and breath. There are rhythms in your roots, your bones, in the very cosmos: inside you, all around you, and beyond you. Feel the beat? 


10,000 Steps

by Liz Lydic

Our daughter started participating in a wellness competition at work last month to see who could complete the most walking steps in four weeks, and she hasn’t stopped moving since.

Our daughter comes to our house for dinner and eats while walking in place. She watches the latest episode of Succession with us while side-stepping. She tells us she drinks little water. She even learned how to use the restroom while stepping!

When my husband and I try to talk to her about our concerns, our daughter marches in place and tells us she can’t let her walking team down—that they text daily in a group to encourage one another to walk more, further, the most. If she’s only at 9,990 steps by 10 p.m., she’ll get a text that states that team ‘Walk This Way’ is going to lose big-time to ‘Walk the Walk’ or ‘Step it Up!’ if our daughter doesn’t stay moving.

Our daughter says she gets out of bed and walks around her apartment until she gets to almost 20,000 steps. But her teammates say that they will FOR SURE win if our daughter does the 20,000 steps again the next day. Then the 20,000 becomes 25,000 and so on, and we ask her what her ultimate goal is; we even try to joke and say “What if you step so much your phone doesn’t even register the number of steps? What if you outwalk the system?” But she doesn’t laugh. She circles us, pumping her arms, saying that could never, ever happen, and she’s shaking her head and walking the groove on our rug.

And so, my husband and I research online, because if the phone has a limit to how many steps it records, maybe she’ll stop. But what we learn is that no one who makes things to help us with health and wellness would ever let us down and stop us from accurately tracking our full potential. The steps will always be tracked. And so, we peer at our PC as our daughter steps back and forth while folding the laundry she brought to our house, and we are intrigued by our research, and it is apparent that we have been missing out, health-wise.

And so, my husband and I make our own team—‘The Walkabouts’—and every day we step and compare notes and tell each other to walk more if we are not meeting our goals by lunchtime, by dinnertime, by bedtime. And we know the feeling now, the glory of the walking and of making goals of our steps. We step at church, and at the movies, and have even found a way to get in our steps while making weekly love by trying out a new standing position. And it’s like life has started all over for us, ‘The Walkabouts’, and when our daughter comes over now, we don’t try to get her to stop walking. We all walk together, together, together in step toward wellness and health.


by Irina Tall Novikova

Ink, gel pen, gouache, paper

Inspiration: The rhythm milking me is a kind of natural phenomenon—birth and death. Birth evokes associations with an egg, from which chickens, or a dragon, or even a person can hatch.


by LJ Ireton

Where are you, Robin, in the rain? Do you know that it is Solstice— That the light is coming?
Are you nestled, knowing onlyThat it is not time to sing now— Your wings blanketTo some tiny souls Eyes blinking in the brown night?
I think that you are more patient than I— And if daybreak is dry,You will sing with the same rhythm of the earthThat you felt In the wet interlude,When I was mourning slowness.
And yet your song will be, unmistakably, joyAs if you were kept back— And I will understand that.
I will understand that. 

Silly Birdies

by Melissa Lomax

Crayon and watercolor resist

Inspiration: When thinking about the theme “Rhythms” I started to notice how often I create artwork with patterns! For “Silly Birdies,” I began by drawing each bird with wax oil pastels and crayons. Like a puzzle, I played with the shapes and rotated the characters to make them loosely fit together. Lastly, I completed the artwork (with a deep breath) by washing black watercolor on top of the crayon doodles... as a resist technique, it's always incredibly fun to see what the final results will be!

You are Here

by Nilsa Mariano

A breath of air, fresh, cool pristineinside, no ability to escape, or hide, the pain. Searching for relief she steps outsidewalks quickly but grief keeps up, it is her shadow,her footprint, her heartbeat.She is sure the mourning dove sings for her alone. Featherlight whispers twirl around her head face and cheeks.Standing in the sun, arms clenched around her body…the breeze gently lifts her listless hair, she closes her eyes and listens.Her arms loosen to an embrace. You are here, she says aloud….she cries into the lake where the loons have settledwhere her mini me loved to swimtheir eyes are as red as hers..the desolate cry leaves her confusedwas it hers or theirsthe loon has a firm hold on a fish as he prepares to diveshe wonders why she did not hide her in her mouthwarm, secure, safeit is winter and soon the loons will molt and be flightlessif only we had dressed in feathers and stayed closein the midst of change the lake is almost frozenthe loons runway is limited their yodels sound loud and lonelythe mourning dove stops her songfalling snowflakes touch herskin like whispers she leans on the signwith the graphic of an arrow saying you are hereshe takes a deep breath into keep her safely tucked insidethe loon cries

Chromatic Tale

by Afra Ahmad


I'm not one of thoseOne of those who declare:It doesn't hurtOr it shouldn't hurt.
For life is a rugged cliffFor life is unpredictable For life can be a crone— so ugly and cruel that you would want to run to a station that sells tickets to paradise.
I will let you knowThrough my tender poems:Your pain is realYour tears are as real as the cloudless sky at dawnYour mental frailty is real. 
I will also let you know:Even though your pain seems incessant, It will not linger on.
You will witness sunnier climesYou will smile at floods that expected you to drown.

La Bomba

by Amelia Díaz Ettinger

I was born 400 years agoin a Batey surroundedby the sugar that tookand gave. It was in those firststeps that fused the goats' hideto the rum barrel that came from Spain.
I was born to be the link, the voice—my parents are Permanence and Perseverance,listen to the rhythm of my rootsin the movement of the dancers’ sway,the beat follows her movement —she sets the tone, the song, the spirit.
I was born from the enslavedand gave rise to her release, if only for a moment, on the sandwhere Cuá, maraca, and sweatmingles to remind the dancerand her drummer the history of our birth.

as the moon flowers

by J.I. Kleinberg

emotions rhythmic

by J.I. Kleinberg

your inner drum

by J.I. Kleinberg

Paper and glue

Inspiration: Rhythm is an element of every poem; sometimes it speaks metaphorically, sometimes in the first person.

Words and Music

by Ian C Smith

Breakfast in the all-night café reminds me of Hopper’s Nighthawks, a print I hung on a bare hook above my desk in the cottage I moved into alone several fast-disappeared years back. In a desultory mood for eating, I think of a remembered phrase: a certain loneliness peculiar to old age, possibly read when I blundered through first year philosophy as a mature student.

I save my newspaper’s crossword because it evokes a smell of oil from long ago. Tattooed men worked machinery as I read my palm, not the future, dashes between letters in biro, half-filled crossword answers, the gist of elusive clues memorised. Sensing my craftiness, the foreman casts suspicious glances my way in that conveyor belt clattering of steel, my odious limbo.

I glance at other early birds in the café. The words ‘furtive’ and ‘crazy’ come to mind. Sleep weirder than a Jim Jarmusch movie, I walk here in the wee hours to connect. This coffee tastes valedictory. I avoided grandchildren addiction, their cute me, mine, smash’n grab M.O.s, and gardening as refuge, except for despotic snail-crushing. Also on my wall, there is one of Monet’s at Giverny. I bet he had a gardener. He copped a speeding ticket for hooning through town in his new auto. Monet, not the gardener.

On the floor of what should be my final crawlspace, I leant a Toulouse-Lautrec print—Yvette Guilbert—against a lampstand base three steps from my ancient club armchair that moved in with me, situated strategically by French windows affording my tiny, ensconced view of glinting light through leaves where, searching for clues to my life, I recall in reverie that fleetfooted fugitive, youth.

The future bluesman, Dutch Tilders, worked alongside me in mill town turning threads in screws, silver swarf spiralling, cigarette jutting below his fair moustache as he squinted through smokedrift. One eye on that foreman, he suggested answers to my crossword in his deep growly scat voice, sometimes whistled, maybe mulling over tantalising half-formed dreams of magical riffs, unaware of the world ahead, places he and I shall see.

Although I misunderstood some clues—even answers, language’s shapes and sounds—its quixotic oddness, subtlety of syllables, seduced me. I wanted to learn about art and music and continue fitting ideas together. Dutch, who has died now, spoke of striking out on his own as a musician, both of us waiting with that yearning, like most people, to realise the mirage of our tomorrows, for those puzzles’ solutions.

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

 Live Fast Die Old

by Lauren Kimball

Digital stylus

If you like the issue, you can donate to Wild Greens through our Ko-fi page!

lychee sunscreen

by Natalie Quiles

I stumble into happiness like an accidentthe way your elbow catches the doorframe and without warning I have two wild thoughts
i forget the second but the first is about love, which is probably why it’s stuck against the edges of my mind like bubbalicious pressed into the gray matter and the truth is i’ve never loved anyone the way that i love you and cautiously i consider the many ways to feel full, whole, content, nourished,
drunk off the starburst of your smile;most alive when the sun of your face is pressed against mine.
there is much to know about the human body. its aches; the way it spills,our sharp wishes tucked between ribs but—
about the burning star of your smile pressed against my cheek,your hand cupping mine,the way your arm wraps around me as we sleep;
i should like to write them down, run my fingers over the indentation of this tender pressed into paper, the healing of this love.

Hidden spirits 

by Irina Tall (Novikova)

Scarlet masks, perhaps this is a warning... Sisters

by Irina Tall (Novikova)

They and fish

by Irina Tall (Novikova)

ink, goauche

Inspiration: Lately, I have been passionate about mail art and writing small postcards. A smaller image allows you to better understand and see the composition— these are like music or notes, from multitudes and in space, like perfume or echoes of sea foam...

Artists and Contributors

Liz Lydic


Liz Lydic is a mom, writer, and local government employee in the Los Angeles area. She also does theater stuff. Her work can be found at lizlydic.com 

Irina Tall (Novikova)


Irina Tall (Novikova) is an artist, graphic artist, illustrator. She graduated from the State Academy of Slavic Cultures with a degree in art, and also has a bachelor's degree in design.

The first personal exhibition "My soul is like a wild hawk" (2002) was held in the Museum of Maxim Bagdanovich. In her works, she raises themes of ecology, in 2005 she devoted a series of works to the Chernobyl disaster, draws on anti-war topics. The first big series she drew was The Red Book, dedicated to rare and endangered species of animals and birds. Writes fairy tales and poems, illustrates short stories. She draws various fantastic creatures: unicorns, animals with human faces, she especially likes the image of a man - a bird - Siren. In 2020, she took part in Poznań Art Week. Her work has been published in magazines: Gupsophila, Harpy Hybrid Review, Little Literary Living Room and others. In 2022, her short story was included in the collection "The 50 Best Short Stories", and her poem was published in the collection of poetry "The wonders of winter".

LJ Ireton


LJ is a vegan poet and bookseller from London. Her poems have been published by numerous journals both in print and online, including Green Ink Poetry, The Madrigal, Spellbinder Literary Magazine, Acropolis Journal, Drawn to the Light, and Tiny Seed Journal.

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!

Nilsa Mariano


Nilsa Mariano has used a variety of creative formats to advocate and celebrate her heritage. Nilsa has done multicultural storytelling, community theater, and performed original poetry accompanied by a four man band, Los Hombres. Nilsa studied at Brooklyn College, and has a masters in comparative literature from Binghamton University, N.Y. Nilsa is proud to be a birth and adoptive mother of five, but now only four. Nilsa taught as an adjunct and worked a state job with the unemployed. She has recently been published in Muleskinner Journal, Five Minute Fiction, Stone Canoe, and 101 Words, and Wordpeace. She is working on three plays. She has something to say.

Afra Ahmad

Artist and Poet

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.

Amelia Díaz Ettinger


Amelia Díaz Ettinger is a BIPOC poet and writer living in Eastern Oregon. Her short stories and poems appear in many anthologies, magazines, and journals. She is the author of five poetry books. 

J.I. Kleinberg

Artist and Poet

An artist, poet, and freelance writer, J.I. Kleinberg lives in Bellingham, Washington, USA, and can be found on Instagram @jikleinberg. Her poems have been published in print and online journals worldwide, and chapbooks of her visual poems, how to pronounce the wind (Paper View Books) and Desire’s Authority (Ravenna Press Triple Series No. 23), were published in 2023.

Ian C Smith


Ian C Smith’s work has been published in BBC Radio 4 Sounds, Cable Street, The Dalhousie Review, Gargoyle, Griffith Review, Honest Ulsterman, Southword, and Stand.  His seventh book is wonder sadness madness joy (Ginninderra Press). He writes in the Gippsland Lakes area of Victoria, and on Flinders Island.

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).