Volume 4, Issue i
Wild Greens 4, no. 1 (November 2023)
Welcome to the November 2023 issue of Wild Greens
Let the bells ring: it’s a new year of Wild Greens! Our November issue opens Volume 4 of Wild Greens magazine.
Our theme this month is Rings, which was loosely inspired by the upcoming nuptials of our Arts Editor, Hayley Boyle, this month. Inside you’ll find a constellation of rings: a wedding ring, the ring of a bell, the ring of a racetrack, the one ring, a class ring, a boxing ring, the rings of Saturn.
Hayley Boyle’s “Bouquets and Boutonnieres in Fungi” showcases a DIY project of wedding florals made from foraged plants and fungi. Irina Tall Novikova’s collage, “Two” imagines a bride like a swan. “Wedding Card” by Melissa Lomax, in pen and ink with digital color, displays the artist’s work in the greeting card field.
Douglas Hardman’s latest poem, “the ballad of a tree stump in winter,” ponders the aging of a tree by its rings; the ending of one life, and the spring of new life that follows. Myra Chappius’s poem, “Transformation” explores the oval of the racetrack in an ode to the non-physical transformation running has had on her.
Vivienne Brecher is back this month depicting her stuffed pig Bob in her—in our—favorite ring-related movie.
In Evyatar Kanik’s comic “Chicken Call,” Gallus the chicken waits for news by the phone. The personal essay “1,460 Days in a Row” by Wendy Goodman tells the story of the author’s choice to wear her estranged father’s class ring. “Puddles,” a poem by Beth Kanter, focuses in on the moment the poet received a phone call that her father had been hospitalized.
Lauren Kimball is back after a monthlong hiatus with a new panel for Turtle and Hare. “In the Ring” depicts Turtle’s defense mechanism.
We close the issue with “In Perfect Silence” by Elizabeth Farris, a short story about wonder and awe, told from the perspective of a retired planetarium volunteer who sees Saturn from the eyes of children on a field trip.
Putting together this magazine for the last three years has been an honor and a continual joy. I started this magazine to celebrate everyday people who make beautiful, offbeat, ambitious, and creative things all around us. I hope this space has inspired you to put pencil to paper, to sketch, to write, to paint, to create—to see the things you create as worth sharing, in the hopes that your art will inspire someone else.
Bouquets and Boutonnieres in Fungi
Read about the inspiration for this month's logo on Ko-Fi.
the ballad of a tree stump in winter
by Douglas HardmanWhen does the cold air stop being uninviting?How long will it take for your name to fade into nothing?Crop circles etched and carved into bark broken down by miscommunicationsSignals and signs lost in time
A bloodied ax couldn’t finish the job entirelyNow I sit alone in the empty forestBegging each passersby to put me out of my miseryInstead they’ll count the rings to determine how much trauma was enduredEach one deeper than the last
Every night we held hands under seedy bar tables after too many shotsEvery night I beared the stories of lost lovers you took to bed while I laid in the very same spotEvery night I looked into your eyes hoping you would see how mine changed from blue to a sea green at the echo of your laughterEvery night we chased the starlight into a new adventure and I made you swear our friendship was one for the agesEvery night I lied to myself about how loving you was something I could always do from afar instead of in the comfort of your homeEvery night I stare at the ceiling, wide awake and wistfully begging you to die so I could turn these feelings into something tangibleEvery night the pills and liquor would enter my system because I was ashamed to lose you by my own handsEvery night I wrote a new epic in your namesake, each one spinning a new tale of hope or tragedy or anger or delusionEvery night I told everyone I forgot about you while the heart crossed its fingers because I never learned how to let goEvery night you idly went about your life while I suffered in silenceEvery night brought me back to you
I have lived a million lifetimes since that tragic night
If only you saw the same bloodshed I didMaybe you would still pity me enough to endure a cup of coffee with me one last timeBut you won’t
And so now as the other trees sit quietly and peacefully next to my dismembered bodyI will learn to regrowI will force myself to be as tall as I wish to beI will erase you from every corner of existenceI will curse your name in silence knowing you’re still a good manI will venture forth, knowing these cursed rings will define me, but they will not be the end of me
You were the gold rush I went broke forBut plentiful and bountiful is my new futureFrom scratch and from ashWatch this new man spring from the icy cold of forever winterThis is my beginningThis is my golden ageAnd when you hear of me nextNeither of usWill give it a second thought
by Myra ChappiusOne foot and then the otherthe simplistic approachcomforting in its basicness, its easinessa pure motion, lending itself so effortlessly to the motto of “just do it” Just do itJust put one foot in front of the otherGo around oncea second timeand then againkeep going until it is not your body that is changed, but your mind The motion remains pure and simplethe pavement is always there to meet youit never shies away, it never needs rest, it never falters in its resolveit curves to the left with absolute suretyabsolutelyevery time you show upevery time you bring who you are Every time you put one foot in front of the otheryou are changed
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Bob of the Rings
1,460 Days in a Row
by Wendy Goodman
In the weeks after my mother’s death, I was digging through her jewelry box. Pulling out turquoise necklaces, glistening faux shell bracelets, oversized rings. Costume jewelry to adorn the basic black moo-moos she wore during the multiple myeloma years when the prednisone had blown her up like a balloon. (“Of course,” my mother said, “I couldn’t get the cancer that makes you skinny.”)
There in the back corner, a high school ring.
A rectangular-shaped signet, with a black onyx inlay and thick gold band. Small in size, like one made for a woman. It was a slightly loose fit on my left ring finger. I spun myself around on the rolling desk chair to the 80s-era Conair makeup mirror on my mother’s dressing table. Day, evening, office, or home. I pressed the “office” button for the brightest light.
The year, split between each side of the band, 19 and 48. The tiny worn-out lettering around the design read: Teaneck High School. My mother’s (and my father’s) alma mater. This was my mother’s high school ring.
Except, I thought she graduated in 1949.
It was my father who graduated in 1948.
I really wanted this to be my mother’s ring. Flipping the mirror to the magnifying side, I held the ring up to the glass.
Oh no. An inscription. The thin letters “BG” were engraved inside the gold band. Burt Goodman. My father’s name.
Since she’s been gone, I have been decorating myself from head to toe with her things. Nike running socks. Ann Taylor leggings. Neiman Marcus suit jackets. Elizabeth Arden mascara. Magie Noire perfume. Elsa Peretti heart necklace. I wanted to add this artifact to my ensemble. But not if it belonged to my father.
My father and I, best pals until my parents split when I was eleven, had been trapped for decades in a painful cycle alternating between closeness and estrangement. The shameful truth is that I’d long wished he was dead. It would have been easier than the micro-abuses of our push-and-pull relationship.
I had been the receptacle of my mother’s anguish and regret, and I carried her burden. I was also the release valve of her guilt for leaving my father and taking me with her. So, she pushed me on him, enforced all call and visit schedules. But she didn’t hide her jealousy or resentment when we occasionally experienced closeness. This never changed, whether I was 12 or 32, it was the same. The war of emotions that raged in her was played out on me. It was safer to keep her as my ally and my father as the enemy, even as I tried for decades to end the war. I had always imagined that when my mother died, I would put down her sword, along with her cross.
Instead of peace, though, something snapped. My mother died, leaving me here with him. My childhood fear came true, though I was then 42, married, and a mother myself. My mother was the antidote to my father’s existence. There was a balance. There was a reason. He would live on while she was gone? Hearing the sound of his voice and never to hear hers again?
I wanted so badly for that ring to not be my father’s, I told myself a story.
As the very young child of a single mother, I was witness to my mother’s “boy crazy” tendencies. I saw her obsess over boyfriends (and her ex-husband) like a teenager. So, I was certain that I knew who my mother was as a teenager to a T. And it would have been so very like my mother, at 16 and even at 60, to have bought for herself the high school ring, perhaps, my father didn’t get. Or perhaps he did get it but didn’t give it to her as some sign of love or commitment (which might have been a thing in 1948). So, she bought her own. Even to go so far as to pay extra to have his initials engraved in it. And why not make it a woman’s ring, which she could wear on her finger, rather than limited to around her neck on a chain.
There. Done. I could wear the ring now.
A few weeks later my phone rang.
“Mystery solved,” my brother Jim on the other end. “The ring. It’s Daddy’s.”
“Oh no. But my story, it’s so good!”
“Yeah, it is good. But I didn’t even ask him. He brought it up.”
“What did he say?”
“He said, ‘when you are cleaning out Mommy’s house, there’s one thing, if you happen to come across it, my high school ring.’ I couldn’t believe it.”
“On no! What did you say?”
“I told him we found it and that you’re wearing it. He said, ‘Oh. Ok. That’s good, Jim. That’s good. Wendy can hold on to it.’”
That was all that was ever said about the ring.
I then knew with certainty that it was my father’s ring. Still, I slid it onto the middle finger of my right hand every morning for the next four years.
And I felt awful about it. Over those four years, our relationship had degraded even further. We were at our very worst. And yet, day after day, I wore my father’s ring. My secret intimate connection. It was confusing to want to wear this ring, to have worn it for 1,460 days in a row, when I avoided seeing or speaking to him. And all the while, I remained in painful disbelief that he lived on when my mother didn’t.
I was having a particularly rough day living and parenting when I made a stop on my way home from work at our quirky independent grocery store, notorious for carrying never-before-seen brands of nonessentials from other parts of the world. I was taking my time, wandering up and down the aisles, when I passed a display of Burt's British Hand Cooked Potato Chips.
Comfort washed over me. And I bought a bag of the salt and vinegar ones.
It was an odd and unfamiliar sensation, comfort at seeing my father’s name. The last thing he represented, in any form, was comfort. And yet, it happened, instinctively. Like a reflex. It was outside reality. I wished seeing his name in a time of distress was comforting. I wished thinking of him at any time was a comfort.
I could feel the small ache in my heart, the longing, the yearning. The dissonance between the reflexive, instinctive, bathing in parental comfort and the reality. I was with him, but I wasn’t.
Still in the grocery store parking lot, I lingered in my car eating the chips. As I stared at the bag of Burt’s chips, I recognized the familiar feeling. The comfort from seeing the signs of the dead among the living. I had come to know this feeling well since my mother died. Except my father was still very much living. And it struck me: I was mourning the loss of my father while he was still alive. Comforted by seeing his name on a potato chip bag. Comforted by wearing his ring. And living as though he were dead. Trying to be close to him, like he wasn’t there.
The next morning, I slid the ring on. For the first time, in place of guilt and discomfort, I felt something precious, cherished, treasured. I felt an opening. I felt love.
A closeness I couldn’t have with my living breathing father, I could get by wearing his ring. Things standing in for people when they are gone.
Six months later my father died. Unexpectedly.
And now I would be with him, without him.
Just as I had been pretending to be.
Just as I had been preparing to be.
by Beth KanterWe should havenamed her Puddles,my husband jokes as I order another bottle of No More Marking Spray. Shaking my head, I try to decide how much my kids would hate me for giving back this little ball of fluff. The moment I click thepurchase again button, my phone rings. We called a codestroke on your father. A team is working on him. We will call when we know more. I hit thefloor. As I weep,shake, on the ground, my pandemic puppy jumps into my lap, licks away my tears, and leaves hermark.
In the Ring
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In Perfect Silence
by Elizabeth Farris
There’s a noise outside and she cracks open the door to watch a yellow bus from the public school as it circles the parking lot. They’re a bit early; the next show doesn’t start for twenty minutes. A teacher gets off and the children who follow behind him are 7-year-olds, half the age of what she was expecting. He points out the roundness of the planetarium’s concrete roof and guides the children to a corner of the parking lot so everyone can have a bird’s eye view of the city.
“I can see our school from here,” someone shouts. “It’s so small.”
She closes the door and retreats to her stool behind the control panel. There are two scripts she’s written for this volunteer job in her retirement. One is for adults and the other is for high schoolers, both with language too complex for this group. She must work fast to modify the presentation, simplify the words, or else she’ll miss her chance. Wonder and the night sky. These are two gifts available to everyone who chooses to stand still, spend a few moments, and look up.
At ten years old she had seen a photo of Saturn with what appeared to be glowing and elegant bands hovering in empty space around its middle. And from that moment on, she was hooked. She had no understanding of how gravity worked, nor did she require mathematical proof of the expansion of the universe. The photo alone buried itself into her awareness and refused to let go. Terminology and calculations, theories. None were as important as the knowledge that a solid object with mysterious rings around it shimmered overhead. One day she would make it her life’s work to discover what they were made of. Why they remain suspended there. If they are permanent or have a function.
She powers up her laptop and adjusts the date and time so the show’s pinpoints of starlight will replicate what will appear in that night’s sky right before the children’s bedtime. The memorized script is revised in her head, throwing out any mention of the unseeable. She prepares herself for the most common questions. The how. The why. For some queries, she will have to admit that there are no answers. At least not yet.
There had been no money for college. And besides, her help was needed in the family bakery. But when she arrived at work at 4:00 every morning, she always took a few minutes to stop and look up into the night sky. In her twenties, the only impediment was occasional cloud cover. But as she grew older, the city flourished and its streetlights interfered, causing the stars to grow more and more faint until they disappeared completely from sight.
The door opens and the teacher and students shuffle in. A few of the children bounce around like heavenly bodies, choosing one seat and then switching to another. The teacher’s glare and his subtle throat-clearing tell them to settle down. She waits until each child is finally satisfied with their location within the small round universe. And then she stands. This is one moment in time, an opportunity not to be squandered.
She presses the green button and the planetarium’s lights slowly dim to total darkness. This is when a pause is necessary for eyes to adjust. Kids squirm; someone in the back row swings his feet back and forth. The round ceiling slowly fills with dots of starlight. Silence settles on everybody’s shoulders as they wait for her to speak.
She begins the presentation, but the words catch in her throat. A hard swallow dislodges them. Should she mention that Saturn’s rings are diminishing, falling like rain into the planet’s upper atmosphere? In 300 million years, they will have disappeared completely.
A bright image appears on the ceiling’s eastern horizon. The glow is reflected in the eyes of a girl in the front row on the western side. The girl gasps and points at it as the others crane their necks to look. The planet slowly rises.
For now, the fact that the rings simply exist is amazing enough. She holds the microphone to her lips. “This is what we call Saturn.”
Artists and Contributors
Artist and 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.
Irina Tall (Novikova)
Irina Tall (Novikova) is an artist, graphic artist, illustrator. She graduated from the State Academy of Slavic Cultures with a degree in art, and also has a bachelor's degree in design.
The first personal exhibition "My soul is like a wild hawk" (2002) was held in the Museum of Maxim Bagdanovich. In her works, she raises themes of ecology, in 2005 she devoted a series of works to the Chornobyl disaster, drawing on anti-war topics. The first big series she drew was The Red Book, dedicated to rare and endangered species of animals and birds. She also writes fairy tales and poems, and she illustrates short stories. She draws various fantastic creatures: unicorns, and animals with human faces, she especially likes the image of a man - a bird - Siren. In 2020, she took part in Poznań Art Week. Her work has been published in magazines: Gupsophila, Harpy Hybrid Review, Little Literary Living Room, and others. In 2022, her short story was included in the collection "The 50 Best Short Stories", and her poem was published in the collection of poetry "The wonders of winter."
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, 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!
Douglas Hardman (he/him/they) is a veterinary technician by day and a brooding lyricist/poet by night. He has a background in theater and journalism, with a few original productions under his belt, and a national award in collegiate journalism for editing and writing. Philadelphia has been home since August 2019, and he has loved pursuing different mediums, forever being inspired by the beauty of the city. Check out their Instagram@the_hideaway16 for snippets of unpublished poetry and song lyrics. His personal Instagram is @caliboynewyorkmind. Keep an eye out on his socials for details about upcoming poetry readings in Philadelphia.
Poet, 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.
Vivienne Brecher is a ten-year-old artist. When not attending fourth grade, she enjoys playing guitar, acting, writing, reading, and, most importantly, drawing, especially when it includes her stuffed pig, Bob.
Evyatar is a medical student and religious educator studying at St. George's University. Israel is his home and New Jersey is his residence.
Wendy Goodman is an attorney returning to writing creatively after 25 years of writing legally. Wendy's personal essays have been published in Hevria.com, The Ocotillo Review, From Whispers to Roars, Grace & Gravity and The Woven Tales Press. With her flock in college, she is weaving an empty nest perched between her two favorite branches, Washington, D.C. and the New Jersey shore.
Beth Kanter’s work has appeared in a variety of publications including McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, The Writer, Identity Theory, the Chicago Tribune, and forthcoming in Emerge Literary Journal. Beth won a UCLA James Kirkwood Literary Prize for her novel-in-progress, Paved With Gold, and the short story on which it's based won the Lilith magazine fiction contest. When not writing, she leads creative nonfiction workshops.
Her website is www.bethkanter.com.
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.
Elizabeth Farris (she/her) holds an MA in Creative Writing from Victoria University of Wellington New Zealand. Her work appears in Barstow and Grand, Wild Roof Journal, Flash Frontier, Rue Scribe, Cowboy Jamboree Magazine, Turbine 15, and elsewhere. She serves as Associate Editor at Kallisto Gaia Press. A dual citizen, she divides her time between a small town in New Zealand and the mountains of Arizona. Find her profile with the New Zealand Society of Authors: https://authors.org.nz/author/elizabethfarris/
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.
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 (she/her) is an artist and writer living in Philadelphia. She designs our seasonal Wild Greens logos and social media avatar.
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.