The third Birkensnake, Dear Reader! Begin on page 1 with Gregory Howard’s “The Dog,” which follows a harrowed man-beast in pursuit of his master: himself. Page 7 finds Richard Froude exploring the use of clay and cloth made of ground fiberglass to restore a bone in “Cast”; the casting of bones has a different meaning in Nora Lange’s “Encounter Beach,” page 14, where the divinations of a group of women lure bulbous seals to shore to feed the sharks they lovingly call their children. Page 24 brings “White Knees,” by Kate Wyer, a fantasy of grotesque proportion in which the razed buildings of A D Jameson’s “In the End” (page 29) are replaced by sun-bleached skeletons stacked in rudimentary cairns in the cities of America. Between the elegiac architecture of these tales lies, on page 26, Andrew Borgstrom’s “Thank You for Being Her[e],” an epistolary romance lost before it even begins. Jessica Newman’s account of the unsung creator of the Volcanic Pistol in “Smith and Nelson” illuminates page 63, brief as a bullet — but it is only after the sting of Ernie Reimer’s “Resurrection Gun” on page 64 that you may move back into your life outside these serpent scales confident that what lurks in the bushes beside your home is just a cat. But perhaps, given Stephanie Mantz’s observations in “Quicksand” (page 67), those bushes are now gone. It seems these pages are slowly ingesting everything around you. Is it not a fact, Dear Reader, that this slim volume appears to lengthen in the dark? Are you not curious if these words are measuring you out before taking you whole?

Made in Providence in 2010. Cover drawn by Chemlawn and screen-printed at Alec Thibodeau’s studio. Table of contents by Art Middleton.