Volume 1, Issue vii
Wild Greens 1, no. 7 (May 2021)
Welcome to the May 2021 issue of Wild Greens
Our theme this month is Re:collection. Our issue is about our memories and reminiscing about times past, whether those recollections bring us sadness or joy. Our issue also features the literal act of collection: gatherings, assemblages, recycled and upcycled materials. As our Arts Editor, Hayley, has said, “collections are often built upon memories." So, re:collection is "the act of gathering items from different points of your life, assembling them in just the right way that it inspires conversations about where they came from, what they mean to you.”
We begin with a mosaic by artist Robin Brownfield. Robin’s “Earth” takes unwanted objects that would otherwise be tossed into landfills and repurposes them as art. Aimee Nicole's poem that follows, "Marriage Part 1," remembers an ill-fitted marriage like a collection of mismatched, old clothing that never received due care: hand-me-downs, thrift store sneakers, overworn socks. Phedra Deonarine’s “Bedroom View” considers how, because of light pollution, the night sky from her bedroom window looks so different from the one she remembers growing up with in the Caribbean. Phedra’s painting uses cardboard as a canvas, and like Like Robin’s mosaic, repurposes what could be trash into an opportunity for beauty.
A second poem by Aimee, “Foresight,” begs the question of what we might do differently if we knew a relationship would wound us, burn us, haunt us. Noah Erkes’ photos evoke similar feelings of being haunted by bad dreams. The ghostly couple in the last photo reminds us of people we’ve loved and relationships that are no longer, but with whom we’ve made peace. Myra Chappius’s piece of flash fiction, “Jerry,” is a bit like that couple in the afterimage. The main character in the story holds on to the memory of his wife even as his other memories fade.
We then find ourselves at a new “Turtle and Hare” from artist Lauren Kimball. We won’t spoil it, but let’s just say that “The Usual Suspects” reminds us that we all need to share the road with our animal friends! We also have our second ever crossword puzzle by the incomparable Kathryn Pauline. “Childhood Recollections” takes its theme from some beloved classics.
We end with two delightful pieces. Photographer Johara Meyer’s “Plop,” which catches a carefree memory from Porto Selvaggio, Italy. And Kathleen Panek’s “Labs I’ve Loved,” a personal essay that brings together the memories of beloved dogs, family, and lessons learned.
We hope this collection of artists in Wild Greens inspires you to create your own “re:collections!”
by Robin Brownfield
Mosaic/multimedia art using found objects
Methods: I've done a series of pieces recycling found objects into art, as a way to convey the message that we need to reuse and recycle as much as possible to keep unwanted objects out of landfills.
Inspiration: In mining my collection of unwanted junk, I decided to repurpose as much as I could into art. Better to hang it on a wall than have an incinerator spew it into the atmosphere.
Marriage Part 1
by Aimee NicoleMy first marriage never fit quite right, like hand me down clothes from an older sibling or thrift store sneakers. The engagement ring slid off my finger like overworn socks, and we never bothered to have it resized.We never bought matching wedding rings, or any wedding rings at all. Never followed through on matching tattoos. No wedding filled with guests or cake smashed into faces. Only one picture to memorialize the day. The justice of the peace’s face read an easy payday, not true love. I pushed her doubts away— down into my gullet for two years. The divorce came suddenly like a flood in daytime. Unpredictable over the horizon, but the signs were alarming had we bothered to check the news, or any channel at all.
by Phedra Deonarine
Acrylic on cardboard
Inspiration: This is my take on the night sky from my bedroom window. I think a lot about light pollution and how the view from my window doesn’t look like the views I grew up with in the Caribbean. This is both the night sky I am seeing and the skies I remember.
by Aimee NicoleThese fading sheets are haunted by the ghost of you. I rip them off to sleep bare on the mattress. Burnt hickory leaves fall past my window and remind me that every stage is temporary. My cat licks my (now) ringless fingers resting by my hips that couldn’t carry the burden of you. My new life is stuffed with sweetness that tastes unusually tart.I didn’t know that for the longest time you were pouring lemon squeeze in my burns because I told myself it was love.
by Noah Erkes
Digital black & white photography
Methods: DSLR images mixed/layered with Adobe Photoshop
Inspiration: The five images in this set depict scenes consumed by the presence of Shadow Figures — humanoid forms that exist nebulously in our recollection of dreams. These works examine the emotions we find tied to such fleeting figures, be they from memories of nightmare or fantasy. The first four images embrace a sense of fear, portraying shrouded characters who watch ominously from the darkness; the final image more embraces a sense of peace and acceptance, portraying a couple, backs turned, walking off into the night. All are haunted by the futility of deciphering the shreds of dream memory we are left in the morning.
by Myra Chappius
She wouldn’t have gotten lost. Lillian would’ve researched the route, mapped it out – even identified a place to stop in case we needed it. Why would we need a pit stop for a 30-minute drive? “Because we’re old, that’s why.” That’s what she would’ve said. I left in such a hurry I forgot the scrap of paper with the flower’s name on it, but whenever I close my eyes I can see it. Nothing could make me forget the first time she showed it to me. Even through a computer screen I could see that the color matched her eyes so closely you’d think it had been created just for her. She just loved that. Since she’d tacked the printed photo to the refrigerator, I’ve seen it every day. I reckon I could describe it to those flower folks, and they’d know just what it was. If I ever get there.
I know I’ve seen this road before. I’ve definitely driven past that Mexican restaurant; anyone would remember that many paper sombreros waving in the breeze. But am I east or north of home? I lost track of the turns. One of those smartphones would probably come in handy right about now, but who can understand how to work those things anyway. My flip phone has got plenty of battery left. I can figure this out. I really haven’t been in the car that long, so how lost can I be? Perhaps I should’ve waited till morning to set off. I just got so excited. Lillian had been talking about this store for months. What kind of husband would I be if I wasn’t there on opening day? The sun is still pretty high in the sky so maybe I’ve got time.
I can damn near hear Lillian’s voice saying, “Pull over. Pull over right now and call Hillary.” I’m not calling our daughter. Every time we talk there’s another conversation about how unsafe it is for me to be living alone. What if I fall? What if I forget to take my medicine? Who’s going to do the shopping and the cleaning and take out the trash? I’m going to do it. If I call her and tell her I got lost trying to go to a flower shop two towns over, I’ll never hear the end of it. It won’t be but a breath before she’s on the line with Michael making plans to put me in some nursing home where everyone smells like moth balls and eats tapioca at every meal. Of course, Michael would have to actually answer the phone for once. No thanks.
I can do this. I pull over to the side of the road, try to just retrace my moves. I was definitely on the right track at first, maybe I should’ve kept going straight instead of turning right at the gas station. That’s probably where I messed up. That sun is definitely getting lower, but the clock tells me I can still make it to the store and get back to the cemetery before it gets too dark, and they close the gates for the day. It’s gotta be today. Help me out here, Lil.
After a few more minutes I’m ready to make another go of it. I have to try. If I can’t get back on track in the next 15 minutes or so I’ll call Hillary. No use in me driving around aimlessly all night. Before I can ease the car back on the road, I see flashing lights coming towards me. I put the car back in park and sit still while the officer comes to my window. The glass rolls down and I’m surprised to see it’s a woman. Not because women can’t be cops or anything, it’s just not that common around here. She asks me if everything is alright. I explain I’m just trying to find my way to that new shop over in Milltown. Imagine my surprise when she tells me I’m already there.
She points up the road and says, “Just make the next right – can’t miss it.”
When I finally raise my eyes to her face to thank her, I am stopped short. The officer looks nothing like my Lillian but, I’ll be damned if it ain’t the exact hue of her eyes looking back at me. She mistakes my hesitation for confusion, and I have to shake my head to bring myself back to the here and now. I repeat the directions back to her, assure her I’ve got them. A moment later, I’m back on the road still seeing the palest shade of blue before my eyes.
The Usual Suspects
by Lauren Kimball
by Kathryn Pauline
Editor's note: We love the craft and ingenuity showcased in constructing a crossword puzzle. It is, in and of itself, a creation like the others featured in this magazine. So, feel free to ooh and aah over the idea that anyone could sit and make one of these and then scroll by. That being said— puzzles are meant to be fun! So we encourage you to try it out.
How to solve: Readers on desktop can solve using AcrossLite, a free downloadable software that our Editor-in-Chief, Rebecca, uses to solve crosswords on her computer. If you solve a lot of crosswords already, you probably have it.
Or, print out the pdf below and solve by hand!
by Johara Meyer
Ricoh Gr ||
Methods: street photography
Inspiration: Nestled between a forest of pine trees in Porto Selvaggio, Italy lies a small cove that is bustling with people. I was so in awe of the beauty of this place that I wanted to document everything: the carefree atmosphere, the splashing water, the laughing people. Only when looking through my pictures later, I found this one. To me, it encapsulates everything that fascinated me that day.
Labs I've Loved
by Kathleen Panek
“When can we get a dog?” was a frequently asked question while the kids were growing up. Because I was sympathetic to their plea, they knew I was the only one who might be able to convince their dad to give in to his many objections. When Larry was young, his dad had dogs but they were strictly for hunting and never lived in the house, so he was certain that an indoor dog would make messes, chew on the furniture, and become extra work for me. For several years we sought to satisfy the kids with other, less problematic pets: gerbils, rabbits, a turtle, a parakeet. But cleaning the turtle tank or the rabbit hutch wasn’t exactly fun. And, besides, those were not the kind of pets who would be stationed by the back door waiting to give you a big, sloppy kiss.
Finally, worn down by the endless pleading, and anxious to rid himself of the “bad guy” image, Larry agreed to begin the search for a dog, the caveat being that caring for the animal would not be his job. Everyone swiftly agreed, promising to do their part.
We researched and debated various breeds. Dogs that were known to be friendly, good with kids, and non-shedders were at the top of my list, but I didn’t want a lap dog. Tiny dogs get on my nerves with their high-pitched yapping. I grew up with fox terriers and they were OK, but I had always wanted a “real” dog and in my book that meant a medium to large dog who had the stamina to accompany me on long walks. In the back of my mind was the knowledge that this dog would be around even after the kids left home and I would be the primary care-giver, so it had better be one I could live with. Fortunately, the kids were in agreement and we settled on the only breed that made sense—the Labrador Retriever.
Brenna came from good stock, many of whom had won prizes for obedience. What I didn’t know at the time was that genes don’t guarantee obedience; it comes with lots of training. With four kids to care for, dog training was hit or miss. I did my best, but Brenna’s behavior let me know that my best wasn’t good enough. Larry’s worries turned out to be right. Several incidents proved that Brenna couldn’t be trusted. One Sunday morning while we were at church, a corner of a tablecloth hanging over the edge of a table provided too much of a temptation for a bored puppy and by the time we returned home, the cloth had acquired several holes. That cloth still serves us well; we covered its holes beneath appliques made from a dress fabric from the 80’s. No one else has one like it!
Another incident involved a batch of birthday cupcakes intended to treat my son Evan’s kindergarten class. During our short morning run to drop off his siblings Nathan and Heidi at school, Brenna decided to indulge in the sweets, pulling them from the table and consuming almost all, even the plastic in which they were wrapped.
Then there was the day I was in a hurry to get to an appointment and hustled Brenna outside to do her business before I left. I saw the devilish look in her eye just before she took off and led me on a goose chase through the neighborhood. I chased her for thirty minutes, the whole time practically in tears for fear that she would race into the street and an oncoming car. I was right to be worried.
In spite of her behavior lapses, we loved Brenna, and didn’t know we would have only three years with her. While Larry and I attended a conference in San Francisco, a phone call summoned us to the front desk. This couldn’t be anything good. The friend who was supervising our kids was calling to inform us of the sad news of Brenna’s death. She had been playing football with the kids outside, ran off, and this time was hit by a car. A Good Samaritan had picked her up and transported her to the local SPCA where our eldest son Tristan had to identify her. We were devastated by the loss and assured our friend she was in no way at fault, but I bawled during the entire flight home. At Brenna’s expense we had learned a valuable lesson: dog training must be taken seriously. We wouldn’t make the same mistake again.
It was probably three years after Brenna died before I broached the subject of getting another puppy. The kids were a bit older and required less of my minute by minute attention and it seemed like the time was right . After we had located a reputable breeder and found a female black Labrador that was ready to be adopted, we piled into the car to bring her home. The kids were enthralled with the cute, cuddly fur ball and fought for their turn to hold the sleeping puppy on the way home.
As smitten as we were with Daphne, we were determined to have a well-behaved dog this time around. Obedience training began immediately, much of it supervised by our son Nathan, and our puppy was soon housebroken and obeyed the commands everyone expects of a dog. Unlike her predecessor, she could be trusted. There was no destructive chewing, she didn’t trespass the boundaries set for her, and if someone happened to leave food within reach we knew she wouldn’t touch it. She wasn’t perfect, but she was close.
And we had our adventures. While everyone else was in school Daphne and I enjoyed our long, daily walks on the trail that ran behind the middle school. Off leash she could explore to her heart’s content, swim in the creek, and chase squirrels. But there was a risk in letting her off the leash. Daphne loved kids so much that when she heard their voices on the playground, her ears perked up and for a few seconds you could swear she was weighing whether or not to join them. Once, she just couldn’t resist the temptation. When I finally reached the playground out of breath from my frantic uphill climb, I found her having a grand old time alone, running the soccer ball up and down the field all by herself. Apparently, the teacher had given up and ushered the class back inside because no one could keep up with the dog. I hope he thought the incident was funny!
Labradors have a reputation for being good with children and Daphne was no exception. She was very affectionate and would tolerate almost anything from the kids, particularly reveling in snuggle time on the family room rug. I suspect she even thought of herself as one of the kids: knowing that there would be a Christmas present for her under the tree, one year she took the gift distribution into her own, uh, paws. While everyone was opening their presents, she belly-crawled into the living room and took a small one for herself. Unfortunately, she had no use for the earrings she unwrapped.
Probably our biggest mistake with Daphne was not taking her out in the car more often. She was never comfortable in the car, mainly because her rides ended at the vet’s office for either a checkup or boarding, and she spent the entire journey trembling in nervous anticipation. But she didn’t hold grudges. When we returned for her, all was forgiven and she couldn’t wait to get back in the car for the ride home.
One of the most distressing days of my life was her last. She was nearly sixteen, long-lived for a Labrador. Apparently, she had had a stroke overnight and was unable to walk or see. Her hearing had already been diminishing for some time. and it was obvious what needed to be done. Obvious, but heart-breaking. I sat with her, weeping, as the vet administered the drug that would help her relax but I couldn’t stay for the final moments of her life.
For months after her death, as I left our bedroom in the morning, I heard the click of her claws on the floor at the bottom of the stairs—my pal, waiting for breakfast and her first venture outside for the day. I still hear them. I loved that dog. Despite the shedding, the occasional rolling in raccoon poop just after she’d had a bath, and the accidents on the family room rug, she remains my all-time favorite pet. My heart would melt when she laid her head on my knee and looked up at me with those soft brown eyes as if to say, “Can we play now?”
A new generation of Labradors visit us now, Sadie and Gretl, the pets of our children. Watching them scamper and play takes me back to my days with Daphne, and I’ll bet it brings back good memories for the kids as well.
Artists and Contributors
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.
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
Phedra Deonarine studied Caribbean literature in the doctoral program at Rutgers University–New Brunswick. She has an M.F.A in Creative Writing from Rutgers-Newark. She is currently working on a collection of speculative short fiction. She likes gardens and public libraries.
If you like her art, send her a tip! Venmo: @Phedra-Deonarine
Noah is a lifelong Philadelphian who spends his days doing data and program evaluation work for a large social service agency. In his off time, he plays Ultimate Frisbee, practices photography, skis, hikes, and camps. He currently lives in West Philly with his cat Missy and a rotation of foster cats through local animal rescue Project MEOW.
Writer & Poet
Myra Chappius is a mother, writer, and avid reader living in Southern New Jersey. She enjoys movies, meticulously curated Spotify playlists, puzzles, and playing tennis.
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.
Kathryn Pauline is a recipe developer, food photographer, and writer, currently working on her first cookbook (A Dish for All Seasons, out in spring of 2022 from Chronicle Books). She loves solving crossword puzzles in her spare time, and occasionally constructs them for fun. Kathryn studied medieval English literature at Indiana University and Rutgers, she recently moved from Hong Kong to Melbourne (where she spends most of her free time hiking and kangaroo watching), and she originally hails from Chicagoland, which is almost as magical as it sounds.
If you like her crossword, send her a tip! Venmo: @Kathryn-Pauline
Johara is a young photographer currently studying in London. As a geography student, people, places, and especially people in places fascinate her. Street photography gives her an outlet to document this in all its beauty, impermanence, and oddity.
Follow her on Instagram @whtstheviewlike.
If you like her art, send her a tip! PayPal, username meyer.johara [at] gmail [dot] com.
Writer & Poet
Kathy is a piano teacher and church musician who resides with her husband in suburban Philadelphia. An amateur genealogist, she is currently recording her family history for future generations. Creating with paper, making greeting cards from repurposed materials, and hand binding her travel journals satisfy her creative urges. Spending time in her garden and especially with her children and grandchildren bring her joy.
Follow her on Instagram @panekkathy.
Maggie Topel is an artist and writer living in Philadelphia. She designs our seasonal Wild Greens logo and social media avatar.
Arts Editor & Artist
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.
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.