Volume 1, Issue xii
Wild Greens 1, no. 12 (October 2021)
Welcome to the October 2021 issue of Wild Greens
Falling leaves pile up in a blanket of golden brown and ruby red on cut lawns and forest floors and street gutters. The divestment of leaves from trees is a ritual of loss and change, every year again and again. The leaves are a reminder that humans aren’t the only creatures who create rituals; ritual is part of the cyclical earth we inhabit.
The act of making itself is often composed of rituals, patterns, and routines that get us in the headspace to create.
This month we feature the ritual of movement in Jessica Donahue’s breathtaking dance performance, “Light Our Inner Night,” with choreography by Jessica scored to music by Tim Brey. Lisa Molina’s poem, “Sacred Trance Dance,” captures the ritual of going to a concert performance, and feeling unison with strangers.
Katie Huey and Rebecca Samuelson both reflect on the problem of how we define and create rituals. In Katie’s essay, "Globes of Red and Ritual,” she reflects on the pressure of establishing a grieving ritual after the death of her father. Rebecca’s poem “Disconnect” is similarly engaged with the problem of memorialization.
In the next installment of Lauren Kimball’s “Turtle and Hare,” our two friends critique one another for their respective rituals of boxing and basking.
Douglas Hardman’s “spirited away” and Aimee Nicole’s set of poems, “Direct Hit” and “Prayers #2,” ask: how do we break from toxic rituals? How do we redirect our paths in order to create more holistic and healthy ones?
To end, we pull back the lens to ask why we keep rituals? What are we really remembering and memorializing? Sam Vladimirsky’s portraits of historical reenactors documents the instincts of self and community preservation, and also the joy of getting together with friends. Finally, Jessica Doble’s poem “Good Ground” follows Persephone, the goddess of spring, as she performs a ritual on the ground of the bloody battle of Gettysburg. The poem explores how places hold memories, and how those memories create meaning.
If this issue has us questioning our rituals, it also marks a ritual of its own. Each month we publish, and we are grateful that you return to read and share with us.
Light Our Inner Night
by Jessica Donahue, featuring music by Tim Brey
Sacred Trance Dance
by Lisa MolinaIn the trance-like daze of thedarkened dreamlike domed arena,the players swagger onto the stage
into the spotlight, smiling, andthe crazed communal crying crowdswoons and screams in ecstasy
while hearts of primal drumsbeat beat beat beat
and guitars of wood and metal strings awaken to lifeby the long nimble fingers
And we are stunned.
Surrendering to the swaying sea of sound surrounding us,seeping into our marrow untilthe surreality of this moment
Holds us.Heals us.
Strangers, we sing togetheras luminous lanterns shine like The Liturgy of the Lightin the darkness of the night.
We roar, as a wave crashingtowards the shore, fingers reachingfor the glowing edges of that magic shining orb so that
we may be baptized in the Lightand blessed by the hummingvibrations of the sacredsoul-searching songs of Love and Loss,Desperation and Satisfaction, Betrayal and Redemption.
All songs sung since the beginning of time.
We dance in this trance as one. Our souls in unison.
Globes of Red and Ritual
by Katie Huey
On an ordinary Thursday evening we sat in my small kitchen, sharing food and laughter as dusk turned to darkness behind my sliding glass door. The last dinner I ate with my father included three of his hearty favorites — bloody steak, green salad, and a baked potato dripping with butter.
After we ate, Dad and I did the dishes, taking turns dipping our hands into the sudsy sink to wash away dinner’s remnants. Dad took a red wine goblet out against the metal tub, accidentally cracking the rim. As he lifted the glass, large shards broke away, leaving him holding a stem with half a globe. A set of four suddenly became a set of three.
I told Dad to not worry about the mistake. Crate and Barrel is always stocked with more. He promised to buy me a new one next week.
The promise never was fulfilled, because there was no next week. Dad died, unexpectedly, the next day. Our family of five turned to four overnight. There were many shards to pick up in the suds.
Time has a way of marching on, wobbling at times in a disconcerting sway. As I began to develop my grief legs, I was told about the milestones I’d come to and how important ritual would be to my recovery process.
When the year anniversary approached I was asked by multiple people, “How will you mark the day? Do you have any traditions?”
“Traditions?” I thought. “Doesn’t it take repetition to build a tradition? How many years do you have to do something in a row for it to count as a tradition?”
In pursuit of an answer to my own wondering, and a sense of obligation to grieve correctly, I gathered with friends from my grief group. Squished around a dining room table with goblets of red, I asked for advice. Wise women reminded me to do what feels good. Ceremony or not, the day of his death doesn’t have to be marked by darkness. There is no guide book for this part of life after loss.
On the first year anniversary, I gave myself the permission to say, “I think I’ll try this, just for this year.” I went to Dunkin’ Donuts, selected three, and left the greasy bag in the park next to the lake where Dad taught me to ice skate when ponds still froze over in January.
I’ve now had a few years to practice. While I’ve gotten a bit more creative, with each approaching death day, the marbled weights of worry and wonder fill up my shoes, dragging me down with the fear of what honoring should look like. The pressure to create meaning while honoring his absence swallows me up into dark pits of guilt.
* * *
In 2020, the anniversary of Dad’s death approached a week after lockdowns first began in the U.S. I was afraid to drive three miles to the Dunkin Donuts to get a chocolate with sprinkles. I made waffles at home instead. This year, the five year milestone was marked with isolation. A surprise delivery of gourmet donuts from a friend arrived at my door a la Door Dash and accompanying texts of support buzzed in .... Dad would have said the maple and bacon was excessive. His preferred donut was plain glaze. Nothing fancy.
The gifts of sugar, carbs, and smears of frosting brought him into my space. I wept by myself and went to work behind Zoom screens, waiting for the day to be over.
Both grief and the pandemic continue to teach me I can’t control much. I can, however, choose to do what feels good. The threads connecting my intention to honor his life and integrate his memory into my living, present tense, always surprise me. Remembering him must take place on more than one day of the year.
Often, these small ceremonies include hunks of red meat with a side of fries and blue cheese to dip them in. Or an extra black cup of coffee left on my desk to grow cold while I wait for him to absorb the steam. I’ve marked mornings with fingers of shortbread and tumblers of whiskey on the piano. I’ve toasted with cold beer, pouring Colorado craft beer onto sand and pebbles where he used to hike.
Ritual does not have to mean repetition.
I play his favorite songs when I’m working. Baseball makes good background noise for a Saturday afternoon. Drinking coffee from his mug is an easy way to sip in his essence on an ordinary Thursday morning. Whether I’m pouring red wine, sinking my hands into a sudsy sink to do dishes, or slicing into steak, maybe my dad is there with me.
I raise my glass of red to toast to ritual. Here’s to trying. Here’s to creating ways to remember, and here’s to you, too. Perhaps, the magic lives in our choice to witness and welcome in whatever way feels good. Cheers.
by Rebecca SamuelsonDeactivate my fb when I diedo not send out birthday wishesor overdue DMs from beyondOne time I got a messagehappy birthday in caps frommy grandpa five months afterhis funeral because someonestill had his password andthought this would be sweet.I cried for a week.
Let my birthdate reside inmemory with tribute to myphoto on the living room wallMy mom says peoplepass away around importantdates so you don’t forget them.How come no one in our familyhas died around Arbor Day?
Erase the comments lefton shared posts no threadsto obsess over independentlyI have multiple email accountswith multiple folders that leadall the way back to my Xanga.Reminiscing over old blog poststakes up a lot of time.
If I should go before you,leave the tags for my headstone & flowers for me to marvel at
Boxing and Basking
by Lauren Kimball
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by Douglas HardmanDouble, doubleToil and rubbleInto the cauldronA recipe for trouble
Blood moon fever arisesA chalice of red wine pressed against my lipsDendritic ChalcedonyMookaite JasperCharging and cleansing my auraThe first sip is the hardestBitterness begets bountyThe transformation is about to beginWho you once sawWill be a distant memoryThe séance has begunBut this enchantment has no expiration dateAt least not for me
Saturday nightDoesn’t mean I’m feeling alrightI left my amethyst under my pillowFor my eventual hibernationWhile the effects are temporaryThe repercussions are everlastingEven the grandest of SupremesI, too, must face my demons eventuallyBut the spirits, they beckon to meMeet me at the alterSpeak in tongues as we enter a new realmFriends turned strangers turned deviantsMy curse is now yoursBurdened with purposeful glory
Will you meet me on the cliffside to howl at the moon?Just long enough for me to trip you down the hillI have been given different instructionsMy master expects perfectionI have shed blood and tears and identity for thisHow could I possibly go back?Night after night, years after years
The shadows are fadingI must retireBut do not fretThe ritual is never overJust at rest
by Aimee NicoleAs we enter hurricane season, the first storm barrels towards us. Rhode Islanders clearshelves of milk, bread, and eggs. How they plan to prepare a dozeneggs once the power sputters out,no once can answer me. I sit calmly with electronics drained—so many years spent limbs flailing and debris blurring vision trying to feel my way towards safehaven center. I’m here to report that no amount of preparation can save your body from the impending destructioncaused by a direct hit.
by Aimee NicoleStanding beneath Echo BridgeI howl obscenities into the ether,hoping to crack a slither into a parallel universe, reverse lifebefore those wicked ways. Hard to swallow but yes there was a time when I didn’t actout for so much attention.Sat in lace dresses on pewsand begged for forgivenessof crimes I wasn’t even sure I committed. How can I confess every sinwhen they are also the responsibility of the boy who threw me into thatwell of my mind until I could scratchmy way to the surface, knuckles so swollenI required amputation at the wrist.
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by Sam Vladimirsky
by Jessica DobleMy tasks each yeargoddess of springThe ground of the bloodiest battlesGettysburg Recovery needs coaxingThe white and purple wildflowersThistles that grow five feetThe buried acorns to seedlings I place my palm on groundCrackling dead grassThe thawing groundSeeped blood of men Last two seasons,I find embittered cold from Father-ZeusTastes of chalk on the back of my throatI dirty my thigh with brown decay Place remembers relivesThe humans reenactThe gods rememberThe shades entombed The opening of the groundRitual and battlement parkHappens at sunriseWe waken I raise my armsMimic the sun’s pathMother behind meThese tasks alone we perform in alignment Dryads emerge from shadowed trunksThe Auloniades from their grounded bedchambersThe scarred Hamadryads, life tree-tiedThese are the nymphs of the land—eyes of knotted bones We call upon mother earthGaia of us—we are youTo heal from the frozen seasonand deaths of thousands We call upon Gaiafor fertility and victoryin the compassed groundridged to little and round topped hills-beat our breasts We call upon the heartsof pilgrims, the salt tearsthe rooted connectionand the care of history We wrest lifefrom the deadWe scream Ouranossky holds life giving light Aether We scream GaiaEarth food giving lifeWe scream Poseidonin thirst we cannot be quenched It pulls more from meMy domain and power more violentThe spring volatilefrom thousands of years I grasp, it positioned upon the miled groundRetread for hundreds of yearsI wield power and body to dirtDelicate fingers alight the veins of memory, desire, death, and hunger We build a great bonfireLight to light of the rising sunWe greet DawnSoak our faces in her caress The birth of springIn GettysburgMother kisses my parched foreheadHer wheat hair entangling mine Dryads dance flickering and strengtheningIn the coming dayNaked limbs and torsos their treesThe waters from beneath themStealing the airPressing the sunlight betweenTheir hands their thighsEach blink of the eye The earth my back Light piercing lids Shrunk husk I’m unmoving Soon the humans will come, marvel at Gettysburg Cry from bent backs We used to pound our breasts in mourning Instead these humans take pictures Listen to Gettysburg’s storytellers They don’t remember the gods Clasp hands between them or in front of their chests Sometimes I star my body and wait for them To walk the grassed plains Reverberating footsteps echo Hades picks up my body Grasping hands behind knees and back To Plum Run to be soothed by the Naiads He wades to the deepest part of the river And the Naiads press me Cool water seeping to tissue A tide upon bone Goddess of spring
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Artists and Contributors
Poet & Dancer
Jessica is a 30-year-old “heArtist” whose passions run deep. Her backgrounds are rooted in the arts, dance, theatre, creative movement and direction, yoga, wellness, mental health advocacy, and community event coordinating. Jessica has been deepening her learnings in sustainability practices and clean beauty for a better way of living. She is currently pursuing her Associate's Degree in General Studies and is grateful for the ability to both exchange with others in all art mediums and be a forever student in life.
Lisa Molina is a writer/educator in Austin, Texas. Molina has twice been a winner of the Beyond Words Magazine 250-Word Challenge, and has also been published in both print and online publications, including Wild Greens magazine, Trouvaille Review, Neologism Poetry Journal, and Amethyst Review. 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.
Writer & Poet
Katie Huey is a writer, marketer, and facilitator. She believes in the power of story and the beauty found in sharing personal experience. Her work has appeared in Invoke Magazine, Conscious Company Magazine, and Hello Humans. You can follow more of her story on her website katiehuey.com. She lives in Colorado with her husband Dylan and rambunctious puppy Olive.
Rebecca Samuelson is a Bay Area poet from Hayward, California who writes from the intersection of caretaking and grief. She received her MFA in creative writing, with a concentration in poetry, from Saint Mary’s College of California. She received a BA in English, with a concentration in creative writing, from San Francisco State University. Her work can be found at rebecca-samuelson.com.
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.
Douglas is a veterinary technician by day and a brooding lyricist/poet by night. He has a background in theatre, with a few original productions under his belt. A love of the city and hiking the Wissahickon is making Philadelphia feel like home since August 2019. He has an original writing series on YouTube called “the hideaway” where he presents his poetry and song lyrics in spoken word; while breaking down each piece, Douglas explains metaphors, inspiration, and offering vague writing tips for creative writers.
Aimee Nicole is a chronically ill, queer poet currently residing in Rhode Island. She holds a BFA in creative writing from Roger Williams University and has been published by Cajun Mutt Press, The Nonconformist, and Rye Whiskey Review, among others. Her first collection Daily Worship was published by Laughing Ronin Press Jan 2022. Feel free to follow her on Instagram @aimeenicole525 for awkward selfies and pictures of her cat.
Jacqueline is a senior undergraduate student at the University of California, Riverside, working toward earning her BA in English and creative writing. She was a 2021 publishing fellow with the Los Angeles Review of Books and served as a co-editor, copyeditor, and producer on the fourth issue of PubLab journal. As a bookworm, writer, and homebody at heart, she spends her spare time looking for new fictional worlds she can lose herself in and working on crafting stories of her own.
Tim Brey 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.
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.
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. Her essay on the soothing aesthetics of the supermarket was recently published in PubLab.