Sleep is an Isthmus | Lisa Marie Brodsky

Sleep is an Isthmus

by Lisa Marie Brodsky


On this side, it is you and on that side,

a dream of sanity


waiting for you on the lake’s glassy floor

asking, will you fall through should


your eyes close? You needn’t worry;

snails stick to your seat


and make a mess, but minimal.

A minor inconvenience


compared to the insomnia

that glues your eyes open.


You might as well be fed impaled fish

& rocked back & forth by a neglectful mother.


Your fingers wiggle in water

like worms searching for their ancestors


and dream a drowning, a fall, a reflective

cloud-casket planted on land you can’t reach.


You feel only the night’s longing

to remain night forever


the same way you yearn for rest, for the moon

to give up its right to keep you.


Lisa Marie Brodsky is the author of poetry collections, “We Nod Our Dark Heads” (Parallel Press, 2008), and “Motherlung” (Salmon Poetry, 2014), which received an Outstanding Achievement Award from the Wisconsin Library Association. Her poetry has been published in The North American Review, Mom Egg Review, Peacock Journal, Diode Poetry Journal, Verse Wisconsin, SUSAN/The Journal, Poetry Quarterly, and has work forthcoming in The Linden Avenue Literary Journal and Barrow Street. In 2016 she was anthologized in “Even the Daybreak: 35 Years in Salmon Poetry.” As faculty member at AllWriters’ Workplace & Workshop, Brodsky teaches classes on emotional healing through creative writing. Her web site can be found at:









Death by Hurricane | Margarita Barresi

Death by Hurricane

by Margarita Barresi


I surveyed the ocean from ten stories above through the kitchen’s plate glass window wearing white cotton panties and nothing else, my at-home uniform at age five, and willed my thoughts to project to God In Heaven. It was 1966 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Hurricane Faith was imminent. God, I telepathed as I pictured an ancient bearded man in voluminous white robes sitting on an enormous and elaborately carved marble throne, If I’m going to die today, please don’t make it hurt too much. I was not one to beg in the face of the inevitable. People died in hurricanes. I’d heard the stories of the “Big One”, 1928’s Hurricane San Felipe, which destroyed the Yabucoa valley where my grandfather grew up and killed more than 300 poor souls across the island. I understood clearly what my fate could be and was prepared to courageously face the worst case scenario.

My grandparents, with whom I lived, were sticking masking tape in crisscross patterns on the rest of the wide glass windows that created the circumference of our apartment. They paid me no mind. The tape was supposed to prevent the glass from shattering into the apartment if some sort of debris broke through. Apparently all sorts of things flew around in hurricanes. I hoped I wouldn’t be one of them. My grandmother pulled the putty colored tape from the roll, making a long riiiiiiiiiip sound and my grandfather attached it to the glass. Riiiiiip, PatPatPat, Riiiiiip, PatPatPat, Riiiiiip, PatPatPat. The sounds of their industry pierced the otherwise eerie silence.

No screeching white and grey seagulls, no cars motoring down the street, no tree frogs chirping their evening song of coqui coqui, and no laughter wafting up from the beach. The wildlife and humans had both hunkered down. The Atlantic, normally five different shades of blue, was a monochromatic indigo shaded by an ominous grey dome of a sky. Angry, tall waves crashed on the sand and rocks below, some even reaching the base of our apartment building. It was humid, but oddly cool. I could feel the air, seasoned with sea spray, weighing down on my skin, leaving it salty and taut.

My grandfather turned on the radio, which usually played classical music, and tuned it to a news channel. Official sounding voices peppered the air with weather updates in Spanish, completely ruining my communion with God In Heaven. I figured He’d gotten my message by then anyway. He was probably attending to a lot of people at that moment, and I certainly didn’t want to become a nuisance. I decided instead to follow my preoccupied grandmother around the apartment as she distributed candles and matches throughout every room. In the meantime, my grandfather anxiously checked the flashlight batteries and filled the tub, as well as several plastic jugs, with water. Then we waited. And waited.

We continued to listen to the weather reports, my grandparents both smoking, she her Salems and he his carved ivory pipe that scented the air chocolate and cherry. But as my 7:00 bedtime approached, I became agitated. I didn’t want to sleep through My Death! It was one thing to get sent to bed before Get Smart aired, but this, My Death, was a monumental thing to miss. I begged my grandparents to let me stay up. As a compromise, and because they thought I was inconsolably frightened by the looming storm, they agreed to let me bunk in the floor of their bedroom. I willed my eyelids to remain open for what seemed hours, but I couldn’t help falling asleep, my body slowly shutting down for the night.

I woke up disoriented the next morning: I was not in my room and I was still alive. The hurricane had skirted the island, leaving behind damp streets and little damage. Maybe all the people’s prayers had worked and God In Heaven spared us. Or maybe it was the hurricane’s name, Faith.  In any case, what luck! I went to school the day after, the candles and batteries went back into storage, and the radio once again played Mozart. For no good reason the masking tape on the windows was lazily left to calcify and fuse with the glass so that our view of the outside world became permanently obstructed by Xs.

Nine years later, Tropical Storm Eloise passed by the island. While not officially a hurricane, her extraordinarily heavy rains, 23 inches in 24 hours, caused extensive flooding and more damage than any other storm I’d lived through. Forty-four people drowned, including Luis Cartagena, a close family friend. On his drive home, while crossing a flooded bridge in the town of Caguas, he spotted a woman drowning in the river below. Those who witnessed the event say he stopped the car, jumped out, and dove into the churning water within seconds, only to be swept away along with the woman like so much debris. I don’t remember whether they found his body. He died a hero, but that was no consolation to his widow, Virginia, whose ravaged countenance is indelibly imprinted in my memory.

Shortly afterwards my grandmother hired a handyman to scrape the petrified masking tape off our apartment windows. We didn’t need a visual reminder that people die in hurricanes.

Margarita Barresi writes memoir pieces about growing up in Puerto Rico in the 60s and 70s, as well as parenting essays set in modern day. Her work has appeared in Acentos Review, Pink Ink, Boston Accent Lit and Your Teen Magazine. She is currently working on a historical fiction novel set in Puerto Rico during the first half of the 20th century and was selected for a writer’s residency at Noepe Center for Literary Arts in Martha’s Vineyard.

Editor’s Note

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.

— George Eliot

Nature helps us breathe.

Not just literally — in the scientific sense that flora takes in carbon dioxide and releases oxygen, et cetera, et cetera — but in the emotional sense. Husband being a pain? Go for a run. Struggling to pay the bills? Find a park bench in front of a lake with a mother duck leading her ducklings into the murky water. Having an existential crisis? Take your old bike out of the shed, and ride down the tallest hill you can find at the fastest speed you can go without killing yourself. Watch the world pass you by, wind whipping across your face and making you squint against its force.

When I was younger, I went to visit the same park every Sunday lunch-time. My brother and I would swing on the swings; walk from island to island via rubber buoys. There was a garden next to the park containing an abundance of agapanthus and maybe some Birds of Paradise. And within that garden, I could just detect the pitter-pattering of little feet. My first guess? Maybe a snake. But when I got closer, the mysterious creature moved toward the outskirts of the garden and poked its head out of the foliage — or should I say, two heads? Two albino guinea pigs. Were they wild? I wasn’t sure. Maybe they had clawed their way out of a cage and gone to explore the neighbourhood like curious dogs. I wondered what their lives must have been like; how their journey had led up to that point when they peered out from underneath the willowy agapanthus leaves.

I think that’s ultimately what we wanted to explore in this issue –; what I wanted writers and artists to explore. The wonder that we all experience at the goings-on in the world; something that isn’t just present during childhood, but throughout adulthood as well. The way that nature is your silent yet comforting friend. And, while restricting a journal by theme and genre may have been too limiting or specific for a seedling journal, I know we found some gold.

As always, gratitude is in order. Thank you to the contributors– your support is welcomed– and of course to our readers. Without you in mind, I don’t know how I would continue! I also want to dedicate a special thanks to Rebecca, Shona, Katie, and Ben for doing what they do (mostly) promptly and without complaining too much. Guys — I value your opinions! And I can’t wait to launch into the future of our new mini-publication, Sea Salt. And I can’t wait to do our third main issue. And I love coming home in the afternoon to what has basically become my own little writer’s club making a big difference in the world.

Anyway, enough soppy stuff. Take a look at our encounters with nature. Become enthralled.

With love,

Tiegan Dakin

Chief Editor