Wild Greens

Volume 4, Issue iii


Wild Greens 4, no. 3 (January 2024)


Welcome to the January 2024 issue of Wild Greens

As you set the table for a new year, set an extra plate to nourish someone else. Cook together, eat together, create new memories and new rituals, or continue to pay respects to your honored traditions. 

Carol Mikoda’s poem, inspired by walks near Seneca Lake, takes nourishment from nature. “Way to Grow,” digital art by Melissa Lomax, brings nature into the home, reflecting on taking care of houseplants. In “Fruit Fly,” a poem by Christie Gardiner, two souls cross paths over an apple—the poet and a fly. 

Lauren Kimball is back this month with a brand-new Turtle and Hare, where Turtle makes food for Hare with unique ingredients from his culture.

Many of our contributors this month connected nourishment with traditions and family memories. 

Minahal Azhar’s personal essay “Why Medicine?” reflects on the nourishment the author received from her grandmother, and how this relationship encouraged her to pursue a career in medicine. “A (Mulberry) Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” a poem by Debbie Feit, remembers the mulberry tree in the poet’s grandmother’s front yard, and the empty plastic ice cream tubs that the grandchildren would use to pick berries. 

Melissa Lomax’s digital drawing “New Year’s Cheese” brings together the artist’s favorite cheeses and snacks for an at-home celebration with her husband. In “Pineapple Upside-Down Cake,” Rebecca Agauas recalls cherished memories of baking with her mother. 

In poet Suzy Harris’s “Chopped Chicken Liver,” the poet cooks a recipe and remembers her mother who died 14 years ago in December. 

Jessica Doble’s “Handmade Aprons” closes out the issue. Jessica sewed these aprons as Christmas gifts for loved ones this year, an invitation to cook together and create more cherished memories. 

And finally, as we read these poems that nourish and bring in the new year, a special collaboration announcement—we live on a rich planet with resources and food for all; but not everyone has access to these resources. Hunger affects hundreds of millions of people—an estimated 828 million people globally. 

We are collaborating with Poetry X Hunger and poet Hiram Larew for the 2024 year. Any hunger-focused poems published with us in 2024 will be invited to submit for possible publication on the Poetry X Hunger website after they appear in Wild Greens. We invite you to keep nourishing your creativity, and maybe raise some awareness by doing so.


Flow Like Water

by Carol Mikoda

Flow like water, like a breeze, like musicin my ears; nourish and feed every cell. What I have lost—restore. Replenish depleted stores to ready me for unseen future demands. Fatten and smooth; fill in the low places to level. No expectations mar the mirrored surface of this silken comforter I draw around me. Where else can I receive such succor that answers my every need? Always close to me and simple as a smile. Exactly what I need is exactly what is available, like zinnias filling a flower bed. In it, I feel free; away, I feel lost. Whatever I spend my time on is infused with energy and love so that I remain present. Like vines growing skyward, I look neitherright nor left, nor strive to win. Respect comes from contentment with myself.

Way to Grow

by Melissa Lomax

Digital drawing and color

Inspiration: I have a large collection of indoor plants and spend time each week taking care of them. For me, there is a type of meditation within the tasks of watering, pruning, rotating, and dusting of their leaves. Watching each variety slowly grow and change brings me so much joy! I love the beauty each plant brings to our environment and the reminder that we all thrive with a little attention and care.

Fruit Fly

by Christie Gardiner

A fruit fly and I tussle about the apple I am eating. An unrelenting side effect of harvest, this tiny attestation of filth. But today
is a day when cold rain is pocking the summer dust on my windows,is a month in which I found a body, pink and lifeless in a river, heart to the sky,is a year celebrating the wedding of a child I pulled from the warm, wet of my own body.
I have no more heart for contempt. Instead of shooing, I lean my fruit forward to let him have a lick. Go on—fill your fat red belly. Live.

Nourish or Perish

by Lauren Kimball

Digital stylus

Why Medicine?

by Minahal Azhar

Why medicine? A question asked often, yet a concise response is elusive. My initial response would be “to help others.” Though it is genuine, no one is truly satisfied with this response. But why? Can’t you help people in easier ways? The emotions I experience while helping others are overwhelmingly powerful. Knowing that I have made a meaningful impact on someone's life fills me with an indescribable sense of fulfillment.

My biggest source of inspiration stems from my grandmother. I vividly remember she would always be crocheting a new design when I went to visit, the tubes and machines surrounding her refusing to deter her from her hobby. Even at a young age, I was instinctively drawn to helping her, whether it was administering her medications or trying my best to understand her medical reports. Though I was too young to comprehend the full extent of her medical issues, it never deterred me from wanting to help her. Because of this she would refer to me as her “mini doctor.” I was filled with pride every time she called me that.

As time passed, my involvement in her health grew. Researching her conditions and medications deepened my interest, revealing the intricate workings of the human body. After she had passed, the only tangible memory I had left was her crocheted blanket—a symbol of her enduring love. It serves as a constant reminder of the warmth and compassion that fuel my ambition in the field of medicine. But it is more than that.

Looking down at the colorful blanket, I was struck with the realization of how similar studying medicine and crocheting is. In the beginning we start off with a long loose piece of yarn. This yarn symbolizes knowledge. As I delve deeper into my classes and obtain more knowledge, the once loose yarn slowly comes taut as each stitch is made. Are you sure you’re going to be able to handle the stress? My relatives constantly pester me with this question. Being the only girl amongst the army of boy cousins, I always felt undermined. Their questions begin to make me question my own capabilities. I always felt that I had to work for things harder than others. I was never naturally smart. Math never came easy to me. While my cousins were packing away their homework sheets, I was still solving the problems.

Am I smart enough for this? What if my threads become loose or not even form a proper stitch? But I don’t let these thoughts plague my passion. I have begun to accept that sometimes not every stitch is perfect and doesn’t have to be. Each ‘loose thread’ of uncertainty or challenge I come across simply fuels my determination of making the next stitch stronger. Diffidence can be transformed into a driving force, propelling me to persevere and create a tapestry of knowledge.

For some people they pick up the crochet hook from where their family left it last and resume the tapestry. It's a pattern characterized by wisdom, experience, and the familiarity of having been practiced and refined over time. They inherit not only the pattern but also the guidance, tips, and tricks from those who came before them. Being the eldest daughter of my family, I had to begin my own tapestry. I faced the daunting task of starting a new pattern—a medical pattern—with no prior family imprints to follow. With only a crochet hook, endless amount of yarn and passion to heal, I know that my woven creation will change lives.

While reading “Why Italian?” by Jhumpa Lahiri, I resonated with her struggle of learning Italian through her metaphor of doors. She speaks metaphorically about the different paths and opportunities that learning Italian opened up for her. However, these doors were not easy to open, but Lahiri accepted this challenge: “An unconditional opening, without complications or obstacles, doesn’t stimulate me.”

While Lahiri’s doors challenge her with language, my doors challenge me with my passion. I find myself trapped in a long, dark hallway. The only source of light seeps from the cracks under the door at the end of the hallway. I run towards it, but it feels as if the door is moving farther with every step I take. My heart begins pounding in my chest, and my head is spinning. I run faster, harder, refusing to stop until I get closer. I push the door open and step into a new space, only to discover another hallway before me. This time, the journey feels less treacherous, but still challenging. Some doors are flung wide open, waiting for me to walk through, while others feel as if they are bolted shut.

These bolted doors appear quite perpetually, whether it's me struggling with my calculus class or trying to keep up with the immense amount of information taught during biology. My perseverance and countless hours spent studying allow the bolts to loosen from the door. I smile as the bolts ricochet off the ground. I have learned to celebrate every small achievement.

My tapestry of knowledge builds with each door I unlock, revealing the intricacies weaved through the obstacles and accomplishments. I hope that my tapestry keeps growing and I am faced with a plethora of more doors, allowing me to save others but also a testament to my unwavering belief that I am capable of achieving anything I set my mind to.

A (Mulberry) Tree Grows in Brooklyn

by Debbie Feit

Fingers fumble for juicy morsels 
from sprouted green stems.

No finesse; just a child’s eagerness. 

Purpled pincers pluck bumpy mulberries,  
put one in the bowl, two in mouth. 
Stained lips slurp juice, 
berries   get loose.  Squish beneath sneakered feet. 

Bounty, bliss overflows from bowl 
and not even ice cream, which once filled 
the now blushing plastic tub, 
can get nearly as much love, 
for it is the berries, 
it is her comfort, 
it is the warm sun on bare arms 
s   t   r   e   t   c   h   i  n   g
toward bent branches, 
reaching back to Bedford Avenue 
and a memory that 
glows indigo.

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

New Year's Cheese

by Melissa Lomax

Digital drawing and color

Inspiration: For an at home celebration, my husband and I love to put together an assortment of savory treats. It’s such a fun tradition and we always enjoy choosing at least one unique cheese to accompany our favorites. Alongside our cheese board, we add colorful veggies, fresh fruits, a variety of proteins, dips, and sauces…I’m getting hungry just thinking about it! 

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

by Rebecca Agauas

The brown sugar is sweet, the pineapple tangy.The butter is melting, the flour mixing.She cracks and beats the eggs.I spread the batter, she holds the pan.Our sticky flour soaked hands graze one another.There is definitely sugar all over her forehead.Licking the spoon is encouraged!Besides, I’ve never heard of anyone dying from eating cake batter.
I wonder, does she soak in these moments and long to make our bond even stronger?
I live for these moments.Where chaos is spread across the kitchen counter and every pot, pan, and spoon is used to make the most mouthwatering cake you ever tasted.I can’t help but let teardrops of joy soak my face as I realize how happy I am in these little moments with her. 
Traditions.My heart yearns for these moments.The smells will be burned into my memory for an eternity.Sometimes we burn the cake, and that’s ok.Perfection is not what’s growing in the oven, it’s love.

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

Chopped Chicken Liver

by Suzy Harris

It seems silly to remember all these years later—to remember and search the internet for chopped liver recipes.
To get frozen chicken livers at the grocery store because there are no fresh.
To try to remember what my motherwould have used for fat—surely not schmaltz.
To boil the eggs and peel them.
To put each chunk in the grinder and turn the handlewatching the bits come out the other side as I did with her.
The cast iron grinder surprises me by its heft,by how easily the parts come apart to cleanand go back together again. 
All it takes is a meat grinder for time to collapse—then and now as close as chopped liver on a cracker.

Handmade Aprons

by Jessica Doble

two 100% cotton fabrics, sewn together with many mistakes and lots of hours trying to remember how to use my sewing machine

Inspiration: Christmas themed aprons represent all of the nourishment we receive during the holiday season—all of the holiday cookies baked for friends, parties, and sharing Christmas dinner where it is imperative to eat too much and have an abundance of joy. Spending time in the kitchen laughing and cooking is such a special time. It feeds your belly and your soul. 

Artists and Contributors

Carol Mikoda


Carol Mikoda (she, her) lives on the eastern shore of Seneca Lake, the original home of the living Haudenosaunee Confederacy. She has strong attachments to clouds, trees, water, and music. Her lyric poems process her experiences and thoughts about material existence and spiritual meaning through the lens of natural imagery. Her other imaginative work creates worlds where she can express opinions and suggest solutions. She has published poems in a variety of literary journals; her second chapbook, Wind and Water, Leaf and Lake, was released in November 2023 by Finishing Line Press.

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!

Christie Gardiner


Christie Gardiner is a bestselling author, speaker, trainer, and podcaster. She is the author of three books including the best-selling book, You Are the Mother Your Children Need. Christie enjoys speaking and inspiring audiences worldwide with her empowering message about the motivating power of showing up to take action in their lives exactly as they are. Known as an expert in the field of personal development, Christie’s training has helped people all over the world to find their voices and make a difference in their own unique ways. The charitable arm of her endeavors, “Getting Proximate,” teaches and encourages people to get close to the most vulnerable members of their communities. In her spare time, Christie can be found in nature, on her yoga mat, performing on the stage or carpooling her children to their activities. Christie lives in Pleasant Grove, Utah with her husband and three children. Website: www.christiegardiner.com

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.

Minahal Azhar


Hi my name is Minahal Azhar (she/her). I am currently a student at Rutgers University studying Cell Biology and Neuroscience. I have always enjoyed reading but recently have gotten into writing as well. When I'm not reading or studying you can find me watching a movie, cooking something new or hanging out with my friends. My instagram is @minahal__azhar

Debbie Feit


Brooklyn girl Debbie Feit is an accidental mental health advocate, unrelenting Jewish mother and author of The Parent’s Guide to Speech and Language Problems (McGraw-Hill), in addition to texts to her kids that go unanswered. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The New York Times, ONE ART: a journal of poetry, Five South, Passengers Journal and on her mother’s bulletin board. She has been a reader for Five Minutes, an advertising copywriter, and a person who used to be able to sleep without pharmaceutical intervention. Read about her thoughts on mental health issues, her life as a writer, and her husband’s inability to see crumbs on the kitchen counter on Instagram @debbiefeit or at debbiefeit.com.

Rebecca Agauas


Rebecca Agauas is a 39-year-old woman who lives in Michigan. She is a person living with chronic illnesses and is an advocate for the chronic illness community. She is a caregiver to her mom, Faith, who lives with Multiple Sclerosis, and who advocates for the MS community. Rebecca published her first book in 2022, The A, B, C’s and The X, Y, Z’s Of This Crazy Thing Called Life and her second book in 2023, Cardinals & Crows. She has written for several digital art & literature publications. You can find Rebecca on Instagram @rebeccaagauas.

Suzy Harris


Suzy Harris lives in Portland, Oregon. Her poems have appeared in Calyx, Clackamas Literary Review, Switchgrass Review, and Williwaw Journal, among other journals and anthologies. Her chapbook Listening in the Dark, about hearing loss and learning to hear again with cochlear implants, was published by The Poetry Box in February 2023. She enjoys making soup, walking among big trees, and playing with watercolors.

Jessica Doble

Artist and 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).