Volume 1, Issue ix
Wild Greens 1, no. 9 (July 2021)
Welcome to the July 2021 issue of Wild Greens
Where do we come from, and what is our inheritance? This month at Wild Greens, contributors excavated their past. From the dirt came skeletons. Ancient ruins, forgotten foundations are built on once again. From our heritage, we find blueprints for the future.
We begin with Hayley Boyle’s poem remembering the grandmothers who birthed “those yet unimagined.” Life, death, family, and futurity: the song “Bloodline Blues,” by Them Jones, is told from the perspective of a man who is the last in his line, singing the blues of the dead. The flash fiction piece “Trisha,” by Myra Chappius, takes us into the consciousness of a ten-year-old girl whose extended family is a source of abuse and pain. She negotiates her identity as a daughter growing up too soon, trying to make a brave decision that could shatter her family’s pretense of harmony.
In Lauren Kimball’s new comic, “Turtle and Hare: The Next Generation,” we meet the children of Turtle and Hare!
Lisa Molina’s prose poem “Abuela” gives a snapshot of all the things her mother-in-law had endured over her life, and the bittersweet process of rediscovering her family’s heritage with her own children. Matt Hinkel’s “The Hill” is a dollhouse replica of his grandfather’s house that he built from birch for his daughter. Christian Ward’s poem wonders what future generations will make of us. We’re “just borrowing bones / for the next generation.”
Robin Brownfield’s mosaic memorial, “Mom and Dad,” honors her heritage and confronts the prejudice experienced by her family in the past, and still in the present. Annapurani Vaidyanathan’s poem, “When would you take the leap?” offers a call-to-action to transform the future. Lynne Marie Rosenberg’s performance poem, “Go Edith,” reflects on her Jewish heritage, and the legacy she leaves behind.
We end with Aimee Nicole’s poem at a crossroads: a new relationship, old baggage, fears and hopes for the future.
These are our artifacts, dusted and polished and cracked and precious. This is our inheritance.
It Takes Strong Women
by Hayley BoyleIt took a strong womanto create a strong woman.To birth her into the night.Bearing her forth with the cries ofone thousand armies.As she, too, criedfaced with light and air and removedfrom the thrum of heartbeats and blood.
It took a strong womanto reveal a strong woman.To be bold, fierce, unashamed.Asking for more whenleft unsatisfied. Smoldering,not evaporating into the ether when forceful tongues clamorfor the space she inhabits.
It took a strong womanto endure the weight of generations.To stitch stories of those who came before her.Hemming those yet imaginedinto the seams of us.All in the name oftrust, that you and I would not forgetour mothers nor daughters.
by Them Jones
LyricsVerse 1Sweet Emma Roseshe done raised us alonemy father Philin the Great War he was killedNow Mama too's in the groundwhere daddy's blood was spilled
Verse 2My uncle Jameshe had a heart of goldHe ran a businessmade a million, I'm toldIt was the crash that did him inthe pavement that made him fold
Verse 3My brother Jackhe had a heart attackMy sister SueWent and did the same thing tooThey were just crooked saintsNot straight sinning foolsOh keep my bloodline going
Inspiration: The song is about the familial losses from key events in the twentieth century, such as World War One and the stock market crash. Told from the perspective of a man who is the last of his kin.
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!
by Myra Chappius
The sun is shining outside my window. My mom said it would be, but I still prayed all night for rain. I’m not sure if prayers actually work but it was all I could do. I know it’s early but Mom is already awake. I can hear her down in the kitchen, same as she was when I went to sleep. Seems like she’s been cooking for weeks but I guess it’s only been a few days. I know she’s nervous about having the whole family at our house for the first time. I’ve been trying to help, even if that means just staying out of the way. It kinda feels weird to be praying the day away and helping make it happen at the same time. I wonder if that’s what being an adult is like – doing a bunch of things you don’t want to do.
I swing my legs out of bed knowing I can’t put it off any longer. I had already chosen my clothes carefully, but when Mom came to check on me last night she saw them laid out and said it would be too warm for long sleeves and corduroy overalls. I told her I didn’t mind but she insisted and set upon my closet shuffling through all of the dresses until she found the pale yellow one I wore for Easter.
“This is perfect,” she said.
I just nodded, knowing I couldn’t object, and asked if I could at least have tights. Thankfully, she agreed. I guess maybe some of the little prayers get answered.
I get dressed – underwear, undershirt, tights, dress. I look in the mirror wondering if I can fit another shirt underneath. I decide, sadly, that I can’t. I put on my white tennis shoes, if she says something I’ll change them. Hopefully, she’ll be too busy to notice today. In fact, that’s exactly what I’m worried about.
Downstairs, the radio is on. I can barely make out the words. The kitchen is full of smells, warm and sweet, and something else I can’t make out. There is a moment before she sees me. She is singing to herself, mixing something with her hands in a big bowl. I wonder if I’ll look like her when I grow up. Everyone always says I’m the spitting image of my father. I don’t see it, at least not yet. I used to spend a lot of time wondering what he was like, asking questions. Or trying to. He died when I was a baby, but Mom still has a hard time talking about him. “I’ll tell you when you’re older” is always the answer. I get it. I like to see her smile, so I just leave it alone now. She breathes a little easier these days and I’m happy for that. There was a time when things weren’t so good, and I don’t want to go back there.
She gives me one of those smiles as I sit down at the table. There’s barely any room but she squeezes a bowl, spoon, box of cereal into an empty space. She goes back to her baking, checkered apron at her waist, humming a tune. I see an apple pie cooling on the stove – Uncle Roger’s favorite. The empty bowl is in front of me but I sit staring at that pie, seeing him in my mind. The slightly stooped way he walks, his dirty fingernails, his eyes that aren’t quite the same shape. For a second, the smell in the room turns to him instead of the fragrant aroma of cooking. Goosebumps have broken out on my arms and I swipe them away. Be brave, I tell myself and pour some cereal into the bowl.
After breakfast, I head outside to set up, careful not to get anything on my dress. The sun is already pounding down on the ground full strength. I wasted my time with those prayers. Table after table, chair after chair – is our family even big enough to fill all these seats? Seems to me family reunions might include more than just family. Just my luck. The more people there are, the less chance anyone will notice I’m gone. And the truth is, I want them to notice. I want someone to find us, to take the choice of telling away, make the decision for me. As soon as the feeling of calloused hands finally fades from my skin another holiday or family event comes around – another meeting with Uncle Roger. I know Mom would miss the money. I know we can’t make ends meet without it, might even lose the house. I know there’s a chance she might return to that dark place. But someone would help. Right? Someone else would surely help us if they knew. My 10-year-old self can’t be our only hope – not that way. Uncle Roger says this is my best bet. Just go with the flow. Our arrangement, he calls it. I call it something else, but only to myself.
My heart beats faster with every hour that passes. I watch the sun ascend up the sky, bringing my fate closer and closer. Mom is a blur, in and out of the house, bringing tablecloths and homemade centerpieces. She is really looking forward to this day. By the time guests start arriving she is flushed, in a pleasant way. Her eyes are shining. Person after person remarks on how well she looks – how healthy. She is basking in the positive attention, the compliments to our home, her decorations. I know it is a welcome reprieve from being “that poor woman,” the one with a dead husband and a child to raise.
I am just beginning to think the sour feeling in my stomach is from too much lemonade when I see him, and know, instantly, that’s not the case. There is a look in his eye, one I’ve seen before. I look around for my mother, wondering if I’ve got the guts to change her life forever. Again. She is talking to my grandmother, my dad’s mom – the only grandparent I have left – and my manners have frozen me to the spot, unable to interrupt. But then she turns her head slightly to the left, does a double take and sees Uncle Roger. A smile breaks out over her face and I see her touch Grandma on the shoulder, her body starting to move as she excuses herself. She is, no doubt, going to greet Uncle Roger, to thank him, let him know just how much that monthly check really helps, show the pie she’s made just for him. At the same moment she begins her journey, my body is released to begin mine. Even now, I don’t know what I will say when I get to her, what words will come out. But I am moving, nonetheless. A random cousin buys me some time with an exuberant greeting my mother just can’t ignore, and I make it to my destination before she can make it to hers. I skid into her just a bit, breathing more heavily than I should be for the short distance I have come.
Chest heaving, “Hey Mom,” I say, and her attention falls on me.
The Next Generation
by Lauren Kimball
by Lisa MolinaAt 12, the 3rd generation American girlleaves her mother in Michigan to live with her uncle and aunt in Texas in 1945.
They tell her she can stop working in the fields pulling sugar beets from the ground.And she can go to school. And take piano lessons.
The school and piano lessons never happen.She doesn’t go to school. She trades fresh tortillasto play a neighbor’s piano whenever she can.
She marries at 14 because she doesn’t know she can say “No.”
At 16, she gives birth to her first child, naming him Guillermo. At 20, she births Roberto.
Her house is a tiny one bedroom white box built by her father in a small south Texas town.
It is supposed to be The American Dream of the Eisenhower years.
She dusts her house obsessively. Her children are always bathed and dressed in freshly ironed clean clothes.
“We may be poor, but we don’t have to be dirty.”
Guillermo and Roberto learn to speak English and Spanish.
At school they are punished; Spanked, for speaking Spanish on the playground with their friends.
In the 1960s, she brings two more children into the world. She names them Karen and Stephen.
Her husband leaves her shortly after Stephen is born.
She tells Guillermo and Roberto (now called William and Robert)“Don’t ever speak Spanish to Karen and Stephen.”
Karen and Stephen grow up not understanding the Spanish their brothers sometimes speak.
And speak to their grandparents through kisses and hugs.
But they go to school without fear of punishment or spankings.
50 years later, Stephen holds a college degree and becomes nationally known and highly respected in his field.
He and his wife Linda have two children.
The children don’t call Stephen’s mother Grandma.
No, Stephen and Linda have taught their children to call her“Abuela.”
by Matt Hinkel
Baltic Birch Plywood
Methods: Plywood with dowel and box joints
Inspiration: This is a dollhouse I built for my two-year-old daughter, MJ. It’s also a replica of the house my grandfather built high atop a hill in Eastern Massachusetts in 1975. We affectionally referred to that house as "The Hill." I always appreciated the care and thoughtfulness that went into building it and I hope the dollhouse passes on to MJ a similar appreciation of architecture. The dollhouse is built exclusively from Baltic Birch Plywood and Oak dowels.
The Art of Remembering Your History
by Christian WardI do the same ritual every morning while the clouds wrap their blanket around the sun. Practice Italian and Spanish. Trace my fingers
along paths of cheekbones inheritedfrom my mother and all the mothers before her. Gaze into the bathroom mirror to make sure my chestnut eyes,
a hand-me-down from my mother borrowed from autumn, are still in good health. Sometimes I'll bakea focaccia and remember how its dimpled
surface contains the history of my grandfather. The salt on my lips after tasting it is a lesson in understanding how you're just borrowing bones
for the next generation. Every roomI've lived in will be left a part of me. Perhaps, after I'm gone, my sonwill assemble this map I've madeto show the direction our souls goafter we've parted.
Mom and Dad
by Robin Brownfield
Methods: Draw image, glue tiles, grout
Inspiration: The theme is "Heritage." I thought it would be appropriate to do this now because anti-Asian hate is by no means a new thing. My mother was Filipina, and my father Jewish. Each of their families rejected them - hers because he was Jewish, his because she was a "Japanese War Bride." They married at a time when 30 states in the US had anti-miscegenation laws. When traveling, our family occasionally got turned away from hotels that had signs saying "No Jews," and/or "No Japs." We lived in California at a time when their marriage was not recognized. I am white, but I grew up experiencing racism as people targeted my mother and brother for harassment and assault.
When would you take the leap?
by Annapurani VaidyanathanIn the name of legacy, in the name of culture, in the name of tradition, how long would you hold yourself back from embracing what is new, from what could help you celebrate life better?
How long would you want to be stuck between the layers of what went by and what is, how long would you want to restrain yourself from stepping into the future?
What would it take for you to break the shackles that keep you from following your heart, from treading the uncommon path? What would it take for you to widen your thoughts, to not put people in a box? What would it take for you to step out from the boundaries you’ve encased yourself in, from the start?
Why would you not want to unlearn everything that has never made any sense to the world, or to you?
by Lynne Marie Rosenberg
Pull down for transcript.
I traverse this city of immigrants, and absorb sites and try to process what we all are. What it could possibly mean that we move and dance and crawl and cry and fuck and rut and explode and forgive and get stuck and name things and pierce our bodies and tattoo our skin and brand our hearts with the experience of other beings doing the same thing. What the fuck are we all doing? What is this structure I sit in, this organized little collection of pages I write in, which record these words we created that can't possibly describe the multitudes within me?
What is this me? This great-great-grandchild of Jews slaughtered in mass graves, who never could have imagined the life I lead, or the city of immigrants I inhabit. Never could have imagined the ways in which their ripples would impact the pond of the universe, the erosions of its shore through my current. Never could have told their daughter, my great grandmother, when she left the village: Go, Edith. Get to America. You will set into motion scientists and artists and engineers and architects and painters and dancers and creators and one small Helper who wants to save all sentient beings, but has no idea what that means, or what that entails, or why we’re even here in the first place.
Go, Edith. Go, daughter. Get on a boat and go to a place I will never understand. Make a beautiful baby, who will make a beautiful baby, who will make a beautiful baby, who will struggle to heal the planet in tiny and immeasurable ways, all while feeling the weight of my sacrifice and yours. I, your mother, will be taken to a ditch in the forest and shot by those who are sickened by fear and ignorance. I will be treated as inhuman but you will continue on. Go, Edith.
I, Lynne, will not continue this lineage. Not in human form. What does it mean to be uninterested in the propagation of your ancestor’s DNA, when so much sacrifice has been made for you to exist? The fruits of my existence will not walk the earth, but float, unseen, unmanifest, in the hearts and minds of the few whose lives I manage to touch. What goal, then, could I possibly choose other than saving the world? What right do I have other than to gather my gifts in my arms, cradle them as my precious children, and bathe them in the wash of my tears? Curate their power and offer them, their merit, to the world and to myself. And how do I do all of this, with no attachment to outcome? To offer it humbly in the face of impossibility? Merely the Worthiness of Doing. Doing and being at all.
I was gifted with your existence for the first four years of my life, Edith. Nanny. An old, nonverbal person who drew with me with pastels. Whose only words by the end were Beautiful Baby. Beautiful Baby. Me. The Beautiful Baby. Do I feel so connected to you, Nanny, because you were nonverbal, and I was barely thus? Because your spirit could so clearly communicate its love to me when your mind was no longer burdened with words?
I feel you with me. When I pick up a pen I feel you with me. Present. Being. I feel your mother’s sacrifice. I feel the forest ditch. The beautiful baby, carrying on all of your heart and mind, without words. Without Offspring. In a city of immigrants. Just being.
Inspiration: This is a piece about my great grandmother, Edith, and the responsibility I feel to an inheritance of life in this country.
by Aimee NicoleHow do I explain to someone new the baggage I bring to this relationship?It’s only been a few weeks, but my suitcases are heavy and getting wet sitting out there in the weather. I can see them from the window, dark shadows haunting the steps, haunting us. Will you try to pack them back into the car and throw them off the closest bridge? (Not hard to find in RI.)Or will you bring them inside on a Sunday afternoon. Unpack what’s inside while holding my hand. Laying all the items out across the living room floor so they can live amongst us as friends.
If you liked the issue, consider supporting us on Ko-fi!
Artists and Contributors
Arts Editor, Artist and Poet
Hayley creates the cover image for each issue of Wild Greens magazine and serves as the Arts Editor. 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 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, and she wouldn't have it any other way.
The members of Them Jones are Dan Leyden, Brian Dlugosz, Frank Tobin, and Jim Leyden. Guest saxophonist on the track was Sean Bailey. Them Jones has released five albums and they can be found on pretty much all of the music streaming services.
If you want to hear more of Them Jones, stream them on Spotify
Writer & Poet
Myra Chappius is a writer and poet living in southern New Jersey. As a mother of five and, sometimes, not-so-quiet observer of the world, she takes her inspiration from all that life has to offer. Outside of writing, she enjoys expressing her creativity through choreographing and teaching dance, as well as playing the guitar and singing.
If you like her writing, send her a tip! Venmo:@Myra-Chappius
Lauren Kimball 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.
Lisa Molina is a writer/educator in Austin, Texas. She taught high school English and theatre, was associate publisher of Austin Family Magazine, and now works with students with special needs. Her son is a 3-time childhood cancer survivor. When not writing or reading with her silver tabby in her lap, she can probably be found playing piano, singing, or hiking and swimming in the cool, clear waters of the Barton Creek Greenbelt near her home with her daughter.
Matt lives in Philadelphia with his wife and two daughters. He became interested in making things by tinkering in his dad’s woodshop as a kid and he’s been building things ever since.
Christian Ward is a UK based writer who can be currently found in Asylum Magazine, One Hand Clapping, The Crank, Sein Und Werden and The Pangolin Review.
Follow him on Instagram: @christian_ward_writes
If you like his work, send him a tip! PayPal: commodityw[at]hotmail[dot]com.
Robin Brownfield is a former sociology professor who turned to art after becoming disabled. While she dabbles in numerous art forms, she finds mosaic art is a great way to recycle old materials and found objects. She has created murals, garden walkways, ornate tables, and countless other mosaic works, but recently, she has turned to creating portraits and works for social justice. She was recently featured in a FOX-29 News report, because she was commissioned by Tamika Palmer to do a mosaic portrait of her daughter, Breonna Taylor, whose death, in part, launched an international movement for justice for victims of racist murders. She has also won numerous awards in juried art shows, was featured as one of the Best Mosaic Artists in New Jersey in Best of NJ, and has had her art displayed in galleries all over the United States.
If you like her work, send her a tip! PayPal: rbrownfield[at]verizon[dot]net.
Writer & Artist
A 28-year-old mad hatter who can wolf down packets of M&M’s before you bat your eyelids. Instrumentation Engineer. Author. Poet. Blogger. Will lay her life down for Roger Federer. Loves working with numbers. Passionate about technology, art, culture, and literature. Hoards books for a living. Finds the scent of hydrocarbons intoxicating. Erstwhile software test analyst. Presently, a data journalist. Hails from India.
If you like her work, send her a tip!
Lynne Marie Rosenberg
Lynne is an artist and performer living in Brooklyn, NY. In addition to being an actor, writer, and lo-fi stop motion animator, she is a representation and inclusion advocate, and the creator and host of "Famous Cast Words" on the WNET/Thirteen affiliate channel, ALL ARTS. Featuring stars of stage and screen, Famous Cast Words blends hilarious readings of language from the casting world with an earnest investigation into what’s wrong, and what’s changing, with the entertainment industry.
If you like her writing, send her a tip! Venmo: @lynne-rosenberg-1
Aimee Nicole is a queer poet currently residing in Rhode Island. She holds a BFA in creative writing from Roger Williams University and has been published by the Red Booth Review, The Nonconformist, and Voice of Eve, among others. For fun, she enjoys attending roller derby bouts and trying desperately to win at drag bingo.
Follow her on instagram: @aimeenicole525
If you like her poetry, send her a tip! Venmo: @Aimee-Curran-4
Maggie Topel is an artist and writer living in Philadelphia. She designs our seasonal Wild Greens logo and social media avatar.
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.