Wild Greens

Volume 4, Issue v


Wild Greens 4, no. 5 (March 2024)


Welcome to the March 2024 issue of Wild Greens

We open with a sleepless night. Outside, the sounds of early birds, inside the ticking clocks and creaking floors keep the speaker of the poem awake in Christian Ward’s “Rebelling Against the Night.” A sleepless night grows into a furnace in Elisabeth D.’s poem “a fire in me.”    

Lorette C. Luzajic’s creative nonfiction story “The Man in the Golden Mask” tells the remarkable true story of Fray Tormenta, a Mexican Catholic priest who supported the children in an orphanage by fighting as a luchador, or masked wrestler, at night.  

Angela Patera’s “Reclaim,” a drawing in watercolor and ink, depicts nature overtaking an abandoned manmade structure; a wild rebirth of growing things. “Ursula Knew,” a poem by Matthew Ellis, oracularly imagines the end of exploitative capitalism and a birth of something new. Odi Welter’s poem “Your body is a temple—” reclaims words used to shame and control queerness, gender, and identity.

Guillocheau’s “Nadia,” painted in acrylics, depicts a defiant and bored looking woman; her expression and posture refuse to appeal to the viewer’s gaze.

“Bang the Eardrum,” a personal essay by Angela Townsend, playfully takes aim at the idea of altering your creative work to fit some imagined editor’s taste. “Stand Strong,” a digital drawing by Melissa Lomax reminds us to stand for ourselves and stand for each other.


Rebelling Against The Night

by Christian Ward

And, should the highwaymanof the moon hold up the night,let me dream while still awake,shushing the crowsong clockticking in the floors, the swiftspreparing to unstitch the sky,the robin ready to outdo sunrise,and a red cardinal set to imitatemy bloodshot eyes veinedlike a plasma ball. Let me rebel against the nearby budgerigarsmocking the neighbourhood catswith their songs, the parakeetscarrying payloads of warmth in their wings, the wood pigeons narrating the scene. Let me rebel against the innocence of it alluntil I collapse and sleep and sleep and sleep.

a fire in me.

by Elisabeth D.

You said somethingso infuriating that Ifound myself speechless.What could I answer to something so wrong?I felt nauseous, so Idid the only thing I’ve always been good at—I ran away.
But I’ve spent the last thousand nights sleepless,pacing,wondering if you’ll ever do what you said,because you believe you’d be doing the right thing. After all, you’d believe she deserved it.
There’s a fire in methat grew.It turned my skin into gray ashes, and I wonderhow I’m still standing up,how I reached your house, and why I did.But I know why.It’s handwritten under my burned skin,the scars are still vividly painful, and Iknow there’s only one way for you to get what you deserve.
You need to get burned to understand the feeling,of betrayal, of nearing death,and the fire in me needsto escape.

The Man in the Golden Mask

by Lorette C. Luzajic

“No one would have taken me seriously as a wrestler had they known I was a priest." —Fray Tormenta

Sergio Gutiérrez Benitez, Cieneguillas, Mexico. Population 200. Seventeenth of eighteen mouths to feed. They do their best, but his father is a lowly carbonero, a charcoal peddler, who travels to sell his wares. The closest town is fourteen hours away by donkey.

When the young boy’s uncles are murdered by banditos—or is it a family feud?—the whole clan makes their way to the big city. The brothers grow up in the slums of Mexico City, in the Tres Estellos barrio under Tepeyac Hill. The shrine of Guadalupe is where Mary first appeared in a blue-starred mantle to a poor shepherd, speaking softly in Nahuatl, his own Aztec language: “¿No estoy yo aquí que soy tu madre?” (“Am I not here, I who am your mother?”)

Sergio is a gang member by the tender age of ten. He takes work at a pencil factory and sells popsicles at the circus. But punching and brawling are natural to him. He is constantly fighting, proudly collecting scars from every battle. He has been stabbed like a turkey Christmas carcass. He has been shot. He has been smashed with broken bottles. Sergio smokes; he drinks himself blind from the roadside buckets of pulque. He takes the pills, the powders, the pipes, and the needles.

Perhaps Sergio’s story is the same story as every luchador. Mexican wrestling is a surreal theatre of men in cosplay beating the shit out of each other. It is performance art, and a gladiator sport, both. It is a ritual enactment of the battle of good and evil. It is wildly popular throughout the country. Audience members have their favourite players in the drama. The arena gives glamour and glory to the masked men, who may otherwise have a terrible existence. Every little kid wants to grow up to be a luchador fighter. For those entrenched in violence and poverty, it is a way out, a way of being or becoming something else, a glimmer of grandeur.

Sergio reads the same comic books and watches the same movies as other boys his age. He is a teenager when he sees the films El Señor Tormenta and Tormenta En El Ring (Mr. Storm, Storm in the Ring). Sergio dreams about becoming a luchador. He also dreams of a bigger fight, a fight for God, becoming a priest to help the children who have been forgotten. Both movies were about a hero with a double life—a luchador who is secretly a priest, or a priest who is secretly a luchador. The hero uses his rewards to help orphans. It is exactly the kind of story that Jack Black will tell later, from a comedy perspective. By then, because of Sergio, it will be based on a true story.

When Sergio is barely 20, his friend is murdered in the mayhem of it all. He is the one accused, but he manages to prove his alibi, a cantina far away from the scene of the crime.

But now he wants out. He walks into a church, and he prays.

He is tossed away. He tries again. Eventually, he lands in a rehab in Tlalpan. When he joins a seminary, he can’t help throwing punches. “How are you going to break a wild colt from night to morning?” Sergio asks Vice Magazine in retrospect, at age 70.

He is determined to become a priest and struggles against the demons that have him in their grip. He is sent to Navarra and to Rome, and learns psychology, theology, philosophy. He is especially interested in sociology and psychology and studies to understand juvenile delinquency. He becomes a priest with the Order of Poor Clerics Regular of the Mother of God of the Pious Schools. He is a fighter through and through, in every way.

His first post is in Veracruz, the Gulf’s port city, loved by pelicans and by pirates. Sergio’s parish is filled with the least of these, “drogadictos, prostitutas, y delincuentes.” Some ruffians taunt him, tempt him to blows. They say they can’t trust someone who doesn’t fight. 

This is the beginning of the long secret, the Man in the Golden Mask. Father Sergio understands he has been called by the Almighty to a most unusual task, to becoming the legendary Storm in the ring. By day, he feeds the hungry, and gives the Bread of Life to hungry souls. By night, he wrestles under the cover of a red and gold satin mask. He will wear it in his cameo later, in the movie Nacho Libre.

Father Storm begins collecting destitute and damaged children. He does not abandon them when he moves, but rather takes them along when his priestly duties change. He grows his roving orphanage through the funds he earns as a clandestine luchador. He takes on thousands of fights in his homemade masks. “Gold is for the Divine. Red is for the blood I shed for His children.”

One day, when the cat is long out of the bag, he christens the orphanage “La Casa Hogar de los Cachorros de Fray Tormenta”—that is, “the House and Home of Fray Tormenta’s Puppies.”

Today, Sergio is nearly 80. Though he retired from the ring more than 20 years ago, he occasionally makes guest appearances. He continues to work with his charity for underprivileged children, because he will always be one of them. He trains them in grapples, rolls, and dives because they dream of wrestling. But he also teaches them reading, writing, and arithmetic. He feeds them. He gives them medical attention. Fray Tormenta has raised over 2000 children.

Today Father Benitez still does the mass in his Texcoco parish, and he does it wearing a cape, Spandex, and the famous golden masks. Only in Mexico!

Truth is stranger than fiction, as anyone who’s read the Good Book knows.

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


by Angela Patera

Watercolors and ink

Inspiration: Whenever a man-made structure stays abandoned, nature slowly, but surely reclaims the place that was once hers in a magnificent, rebellious manner.

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

Ursula K. LeGuin photographed by Marian Wood Kolisch, Oregon State University, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Ursula Knew

by Matthew Ellis
One day capitalism will end.And be considered an exploitative relic of the pastOne day, Just as the divine right of kings
The future can be hard to see But change is inevitableThe future cannot be fully knownBut all things must come to a close
And capitalism will failAs did the divine right of kingsAnd with it a new age will be ushered inWe’ve all but to reach and to imaginePower concedes nothing without demand
So dream, Dream and imagine and lust for more.So create,Let us build something new.
Ursula knew it, and I do too

Your body is a temple–

by Odi Welter

Your body is a temple–
A phrase that has haunted me since childhood.Preached at podiums, whispered in passing, offered upon meeting,shoved down my throatuntil I gagged. Now it sits in front of me, a writhing, ugly mass.
You are a temple;treat yourself like one.I peer at it, prod it with a stick,and I see it for what it is.You’re right, I realize.Much to the surprise of those who act as if ink under the skin is a sin rather than expression.Metal in the body is a sign of the deviland not something that makes me like my appearance more.Flattening down my chest to fit in my body for todayis more wrong than if I stabbed a knife in someone else’s.
I am a temple–I am filled with the goddess of myself,and I will worship her as I see fit.And tomorrow, if I am a god, I will worship him as well.If I feel suspended somewhere in between, I will find a word that fitslike an embrace from a friend.
If I am a templethen I will treat myself as one.I will not stay the same, left to crumble under the heel of time.I will decorate myself lavishlycreate an exterior that I want to see.And if it changes faster than the moonThen I will listen to its whims,celebrate its festivals,obey its practices.I will treat it like my homefor that is what it is–A home for my soul, a soul that shouldn’t be lockedinside a gold boxhidden behind thick curtainsbecause they fear gazing upon it will burst them into flames.Let them burn on the wordsthey wanted me to shiver under.
My body is a templeand I am its god.


by Guillocheau


Inspiration: I painted this woman, alone and looking bored, in the middle of nowhere, because I found it to be an image of the hardness of life, of a certain despair. She also represents the rebellion against certain “values” of consumer society, through her refusal to appear pleasant and attractive. She is frankly opposed to these appearances which do not interest her. She is a contemporary rebel, who reveals herself unvarnished to our gaze. Who only has this to show and that's already a lot!

Bang the Eardrum

by Angela Townsend

I want to befriend editors, but not at the cost of my own acquaintance.

As I write those words, a threadbare man is causing mayhem in my ear canal. His eyebrows are an inverted V, and he has evidently not had a fresh muffin or a warm embrace since the Nixon administration. He tells me that no one wants my rhapsody. Have I not heard? When writers write about writing, readers regret their own literacy. To exult in wordplay is to evict all editors before your third paragraph.

He runs his fingers through his four frizzy hairs. He says he wants to help. Is not publication my goal?

His hands look dry, and I wish I could offer him lotion. Instead, I impale myself on his good points. I should be writing high-protein narratives. I should remember my audience. Celebrated journals throw off their spectacles the moment they glimpse a navel. Erupt in alliteration, and they will reach for antacids. Sneak into their opera wrapped in excess exuberance, and they will pull the alarms. Faux fur! Faux writer!

I cannot part with my polyester rainbow coat. I may buy another, in tie-dye. I may not get published, but I will stay astonished.

I will not surrender my adverbs at the border of respectability. I love them, and no one can take them from me. I will daub them like van Gogh in ecstasy, lavishly, impishly. I will herd the words into the parlor and confess that I love them more than men. They are trustworthy and shameless, miners’ lamps with rechargeable batteries.

I trust the words even when they pout after a second coffee. Even when they keep their appointment reluctantly, keep their marbles in their pockets, or refuse me a bite of their toast—I don’t fault them. I will prime the pump with porridge. If sludge is all I’ve got, I will glop proudly.

The editor in my ear puts on his noise-canceling headphones. He looks so wizened and afraid, bald and helpless under earmuffs. I want to pull him into the mud and daub his head with Chia seeds until he grows green and silly with me. But I will not wait for him.

I will jot exultation in margins, air-dropping relief packages of exclamation points. I will remember that the joyful ones are always underestimated. Movies about happy girls do not win Oscars. Nobody talks about Jimmy Buffett’s emotional IQ or the vast cosmology upholding Margaritaville. The jaunty and grateful cannot get the scale to register our weight, no matter how many times we jump up and down.

We will jump anyway. We will jubilate in the craft, even if no one listens. We will interrupt our own stories. We will poke each other with shock: Is language really ours to keep? Aren’t we tycoons? Do we really get to play with paragraphs as long as we live?

I keep inviting the threadbare man, trapping him in cardigans. I try to capture his attention. At times, I try to prove my worth. Look! I have stealthily gotten everyone at my workplace to overuse the word “robust.” Aren’t you proud of me? They didn’t see it coming. They heard me use it so often—to describe cats and action items and emails and sandwiches—that now they say it. The Director of Operations says she has a “robust agenda” for today’s meeting. The Executive Assistant says she and her husband had a “robust conversation” about paint colors last night. 

I have everyone saying “robust” because I have been unable to roll back my love for this word. Is this not some sort of literary or metaphysical accomplishment?

Is it not grand that I say their words, too? The Business Director’s “shit ton” has become my preferred unit of measurement, and the Campaign Consultant’s “heckin’” is dearer than my last five boyfriends. Is it not scrumptious how we share small plates of language, sounding more like each other and ourselves, returning to work reeking of garlic and communication?

Perhaps the man in my ear canal is right, and no one wants to read about this. As one editor scolded me, “I would rather hear more details of your ex-husband’s cruelty than all this breathless writing about how writing saved your life. Also, enough about cats.”

But I like saving my life. I love cats. I wear adverbs’ promise rings, jangling on my impermissibly festive fingers.

I find maverick friends on odd-numbered pages, kindred spirits on neon mastheads. Rumpled editors become friends, intoxicated with bubbles of language. This pink thing I’m doing, which I may be doing wrong, finds sanctuary in journals named for honest beasts. If the literary review has donkeys or ravens or owls or mollusks in its title, they seem to read me. We brake for words and admire species whose lives are their syntax.

We all have eardrum editors, and maybe we will help them to get warm. I tell my anguished companion that his hair would grow back if he let himself love what he loves. Perhaps someday he will join the joyful ones and get underestimated, too.

I would like to impress him. I would love to be his confidante. I want to make flower crowns with all the editors. I just can’t take off the friendship bracelet embroidered with my own name.

Stand Strong

by Melissa Lomax

Digital Drawing and Color

Inspiration: As an illustrator and writer, I often combine pictures and words to express my feelings. This piece means a lot to me and I love the idea that each person could identify with it in their own special way.

Artists and Contributors

Christian Ward


Christian Ward is a UK-based poet with recent work in Acumen, Dreich, Dream Catcher, Dodging the Rain, and Canary. He was longlisted for the 2023 Aurora Prize for Writing, shortlisted for the 2023 Ironbridge Poetry Competition and 2023 Aesthetica Creative Writing Award, and won the 2023 Cathalbui Poetry Competition.

Elisabeth D.


Elisabeth D. is a French writer and poet who grew up learning to turn blank pages into emotions. She loves literature and music, and uses writing as a form of escapism. She likes to turn words into something more, give them a deeper signification and she hopes someone will find something to feel in her work: sadness, anger, comfort, or even just peace.

Follow her on Instagram: @elisabethdwrites

Lorette C. Luzajic


Lorette C. Luzajic is the founding editor of The Ekphrastic Review and The Mackinaw. She writes, reads, edits, publishes, teaches, and paints from Toronto, Canada. 

Angela Patera


Angela Patera is a published writer and artist, and an emerging poet. Her short stories have appeared in Livina Press, Myth & Lore Zine, and more. Her art has appeared in numerous publications, as well as on the cover of Selenite Press, Penumbra Online, Monster Mag, and Apothecary Journal. When Angela isn't creating, she likes to spend time outside in nature.

You can find her on both Twitter/X and Instagram @angela_art13

Matthew Ellis


Matthew Ellis (he/him) is a queer poet living in Columbus, Ohio with works published in journals such as The Howler Project and Pamplemousse. With a background in chemistry, he spends his time teaching yoga and following creative pursuits in music and writing. To keep up with his work, you can follow him on Instagram (@matthewellismusic3) or visit his website (www.MatthewEllisContemplation.com).

Odi Welter


Odi Welter (they/she/he) is a queer, neurodivergent author currently studying Film and Creative Writing at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. When not writing, they are indulging in their borderline unhealthy obsessions with fairy tales, marine life, superheroes, and botany. Their creative work has been published in many journals, including Broken Antler Magazine, Witcraft, and voidspace zine.



Guillocheau continued to practice drawing, photography, painting, and video following artistic training in a fine arts school. They have contributed to several magazines, as well as group and themed exhibitions.

Angela Townsend


Angela Townsend (she/her) is the Development Director at Tabby’s Place: a Cat Sanctuary. She graduated from Princeton Seminary and Vassar College. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Arts & Letters, Chautauqua, Paris Lit Up, The Penn Review, The Razor, Still Point Arts Quarterly, Terrain.org, and The Westchester Review, among others. Angela has lived with Type 1 diabetes for 33 years, laughs with her poet mother every morning, and loves life affectionately. You can find more of her work at https://belovedmoonchild.wordpress.com/ 

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!

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).