Three Stories


The newcomer to The Reformed Church had not a strong command of English or German or Irish or Lenape as we tried and dismissed each by asking, What are you called? Then, for good measure, we asked in Brooklynese, Pirate’s brogue, Danish, Portuguese, and Dog. His garbles resolved to Henrik or thereabouts. Although he was not a subtle-boy, we pitied him with lard and charred biscuits, rivulets of berry-juice. The hole in his language healed by joining our attempts at beating back hackberries as they encroached from all sides, squeezing the banks of the Schuylkill and Delaware, overstraining the culverts, manacling Southwark and clawing Passayunk. Henrik abhorred abundance. He hailed from a land without fairy tales. In his childhood, no endless streams of soup spouted from a magic sack.

Christopher (the Saint Reformed) preached to those of us in need of succor from the hackberry infestation with a hod-podge of homily and folk-history of Penn’s Woods. Hiz thin skin had made hiem permeable to the suffering of the enslaved and former enslaved, indentured children combing cotton and hauling coal, also the English escaping their crown’s religion, the cows chained by their udders, the awfully poor, the abjectly poor, and the hopelessly poor.

Inexplicably, briar would overgrow the empty lots ringing Christopher’s church, but not overtake it, fomenting rumors of its sentience. Believers thought the vine listened at the pulpit, while hiz opponents accused hm of a witchcraft that globed hiz temple in protection and set it apart from territory trammeled by profit. Henrik attended Christopher’s service despite his foreign tongue, lulled by musical speech which put him to mind of redemption.

Receipt for Hack-Berry Liqueur

Crush a basket of ahems with the butt end of a horn. To it add catarrh, skinned and seeded. Soak in phlegm until hesitation eases.

Grate rasps and sprinkle liberally. Mix thoroughly with fresh stems of wheezing. Strain through whispers. Apply balm to lips and throat. May burn.

Today, Christopher spoke on the Lord God’s wisdom in plants. Hie began with begetting. “Then the Lord sprinkled seeds upon the eager ground that burst into flower and fruit. These harvests fed the early people. The Lord feeds us and keeps us in His wide-armed generosity. We can not swallow without prayer in our throat.”

Our circle pondered overspreading. A barrel-bodied parishioner stood and offered a counter verse. “In Job, the Lord castigates those fair-weather friends who are green and spreading before the merry sun, covering every inch of bare ground with leaf and vine, yet shrinks and shrivels under the full force of the sun, their shallow roots gaining no hold. So does man use his prosperity as proof of holiness which runs so shallow that it shall be uprooted by the slightest wind. I liken these to thick fields of cotton which turn to gold—prosperities of the hypocrite.”

Every head nodded in silent agreement, now suspicious of the workings hidden by the briar, since she was thick enough to conceal violence beneath her wine-colored leaves. Though we generally admitted of her temerity whether in storm or fire, weak sun or bold, whether upon rock or fertile earth, had she become a harsh-weather friend?

Advised Methods of Eradication

Lye. Boil ash-fall from a fire of black cherry, red oak, stave oak, or poplar in a pot of rainwater. Skim surface of lye. Wearing leather gloves, paint lye on visible growth.

– Goats. For temporary reprieve, entice goats to nibble vegetation, moving them each day to a fresh leafery. Do not allow them to eat unripe berries.

Flood. Channel a nearby stream into lowlands afflicted by the vine. Await a season and return the stream to its home.

Harvest. Of berries: plain raw, preserved, boiled, roasted, strained, jellied, compote, pudding, garnish, sweetening elk, tarting up blackberries, overripe drizzle, dried with pemmican, sugared.

– Metaphysics. If your field had once been more natural and less cursed, chant repetitive prayers to restore its sobriety.

Batten rose to give testimony on biblical plants. “Indeed, we should suspicion these sudden vines with their prolific fruits. But what of the wheat? When Jesus is preparing his disciples for his impending crucifixion, he says that a lone seed of wheat is easily devoured. A seed allowed to fall upon the ground, unharvested, will soon multiply many times over. So would his life, early extinguished, live on in others’ faith.”

This divided us of a mind. Fecundity could be the Devil in disguise to mischief with shipfuls of berries and commit any to the sin of greed. Conversely, the berries were evidence of God’s outpouring of Love, the seed that didn’t even need to alight on ground in order to reproduce, but could do it through a thread of root, a piece of vine, a broken thing. So did God’s Word spread through apostles, miracle, rumor, apocrypha, and even divine vision. Should we repent of hate to be pricked by brambleberries, remembering the crown of thorns and the purification of pain? Convinced, the most violent now made an enemy of eradication, banished goats, dumped out poison, extinguished coals, dulled axes.

Ill-Advised Methods of Eradication

– Fire. Originally thought to damage stem and root. The voluntary fire brigade, beloved by Franklin fanatics, criminalized attempts at arson, assuming the interconnected vines were a perfect fuse. One could be cited for carrying a torch. When lit, the waxy, oily leaves sputter like filings, flare briefly, and go out, more stubborn to light than soggy kindling.

– Cow urine. Relocate dairy cows to infestation.

– By hand. With a sharp axe or gavelock, attack centermost vine near root. Take care to collect each chip, length, and stem to prevent unintentionally seeding the ground with new growth. Bury these in an iron box.

– Wall. As an extreme measure, enclose the afflicted ground, setting the bricks at least three feet underground, and raising them at least twelve feet above.

Just then, the chokeberry felt called to give testimony herself and tapped on the temple door. She curlicued into the room and twired beside Henrik. Having no natural voice like a bird, the hackberry had to offer a silent testimony, which the Brotherhood accepted as the purest form of untranslated communion. She enfolded quiet between her white flowers and golden stamens, between sprigs and spread leaves, between her invisible thorns and panticles. Unsounded territories.

Christopher imagined the territories as a frontier of liberation crossing broken ground and dried rivers, freeing the unfree and feeding the hungering. Nature abhorred a vacuum. Charley interpreted the territory as already conquered by infamy the moment Spanish galleons carved up their shore some two hundred years yester. Paulie envisioned territory as potential, a blank rack for lettering and lede wetted with ink. Henrik let his hand be pricked by her nearby thorns. Droplets of blood domed. All were consumed with mortal motion.

Gently, hackberry twired our ankles and calves to the floorboards, catching our roughspun in her kitten-claws, anchoring our wandering to a locus, pinning our flail to a hush, and bringing us a bitty closer to vegetative rumination.

New Recruits



“Ohi’ hootenanny!”

“Britches down the stream!”

“Milk-sick haint!”

We peddlers conniptioned the stripling with our shouts meant to entreaty hm to our inn-of-a-sort, a hoghouse abandoned for termites. As often as true welcome, we puckerstoppled hm to a phrensy and had to send Jemime after in apology for our jeering. We had not lately been in skirts, been blimied til our cheeks reddened, and may have forgot the slap of it.

If h was the mild sort, with curls still, with pink lips, h could consort with the almanack or Bible for a new appellation. Zeremiah or Pepper or Herod or Baldwin or Benjamin or Ishmael or Honest or Lem. We made it so by calling hm.

It was alike the raw wheat, then, come on carts in frowsy stems and which-way til they poured her in a mill and got her grain out and fed up a bull and slit his throat and skinned his leather and stitched a saddle and fetched it back to the farm for a horse; so did our band take a ninny hen and ruin hs curls and mess hs frock and scuff hs nose and ravish hs lips and dirty hs speech and offer hm terbacker and cuff hs ear to compleat the transformation into subtle-boy.

The newest recruit chose Tobert, though h were warned against it, and mediately earned the nickname Two-bit, for hs eensey height, as if to advise, “Don’t let sanctification run away with vice, to each’s encrease like a swarm of beese to noise, but moderate them with not too fine a point, your meanwhiles in the pew, and your hardly-anys, the tavern.”

Our hoghouse-cum-inn had corduroy counterpanes, a pile of fire-wood and another of single shoes, all the things that ruffians might use to rough our smooth. Two-bit was tasked with stealing bricks for a hearth, which we heaped in a corner for Pauli to puzzle together in a not-too-toppling arrangement adhered with mortar of spital and dredged silt. We awed at hs progress on the flue, curing it with sprinkles of urine, consecrating with a topsy-turvy hymn. With these, the hearth and chimbley hardened to an Anglican’s pocketbook.

Being a capital feller, Paulie knew we’d need more than fishheads and whist-winnings to keep ourselves from the benevolent arms of the Sisters of Ultimate Sacrifice, so e had us knit netting to string across a small tribulet of Pettys Island that caught the flotsam before it reached the high seas via the Delaware.

Two-Bit, in angst of the obloquy hs name elicited, wrangled the flotsam into bins labeled TO POLISH, TO MEND, TO DISARRAY, TO AUDITION, and TO IMAGINE. Hence, a beret blown from the pate of a Jesuit was scrubbed with vinegar, lavendered, embroidered with weeds, and fetched a bag of cabbages at the mill girls’ Friday market. Unnumbered gloves dropped by flirtatious debutantes along the promenade were matched right to left and fussed with lace as to almost match and sold to daughters whose bare wrists bespoke an unvirtuous end and, hence, fair price for bootblack and button-eyes.

Then, to school our ignorant dressers in manners of propriety, we prepared a little guide-book: Fashion; An Account of Habits in Frippery, which Two-Bit explained was a Brummel, and rankled most obvious-boys. Little Two-bit by hmself devised:

How to effect a desideratum. A man’s habiliment should be in thick vulgar boots and spurs, a hunting-whip or crop; for the gay occasions, like fishing, fêtes, flower-shows, archery-meetings, matinées, and fox hunts, to be pronounced a minister of splendor, with ribbons of mirth, with effusions of yellow, red, sky-blue, and hay green trimmed in gold lace to rival the ladies. Jewelry are watch-chains, dangling chains, false jewels, gilded studs, hat-bands, signet-rings on the little finger of the left hand, a scarf-pin, and diamondine wrist-links. They shall be distinguished by their dazzling ornament.

So outfitted, we linked arms and followed Two-Bit to a square where we were instructed in markets, which consisted of smudges of coal on our chins and squeaky imploring, choosing from the crowd those gentlemen in the vicinage of fashion, to whom we could appeal to purchase DAILY TOILETTE or A GENTLEMAN’S WARDROBE together with pocket watches, false-moustaches, pearl buttons, spats, and all manner of second-hand couture. Yet we were always in need of more pulp for paper as well as hands to turn the press.

On mornings after a harsh rain, whenever we imagined our escaped farms mudded and cellars flooded, and their minders’ hearts heavy as muck, we took a sign-board to the turn-pike and awaited the trickle of butter-churners and stocking-darners. Visitors would pool at the bridge that marked their passage from cornfield and hassock to Moenfeld and hickle as farm-squares gave way to city-blocks. Two-Bit held the sign, Pauli a basket of stockings, and those of us who were not bashful, approached any likely joiner by their subtle comportment.

In truth, the entire bridge was rather an auction, with the barbers recruiting hair from unprotected napes; inn-keepers after coin; money-lenders after hope; bachelors with itchy beards after dowries; shifters after quick hands; and Almighty Presbyters after unrepentant souls. So we had to dodge in quick, Two-bit’s handsome cheek drawing their eye, then Pauli with vest buttoned tight to gauge their sentiment at our subtle manliness.

It might be only one or two who glimpsed in antic môde a hint of their longing for a new sex and stopped long enough to take a pamphlet directing them to our paper mill, press, haberdasher, and tailor. Fewer still would whip off their outer volume behind a broad tree and

exchange them for trowsers, committed to our gathering such overfrilled raiments as rags. And only one, Beecher-née-Bettany, dashed straight off to our pounders and insisted on feeding hier puffed sleeves into the vat and watching the axle crank the pounders to pound it into slurry. As the feminine dress turned to dross, Beecher smiled at ridding zerself of five pounds of broadcloth and a life of birthing babys in one go.


Two lots down from the oyster nursery at a mooring where war, of one degree or another, plagued inhabitants from the first shout of gunpowder, we ex-millennarianists were playing rummy within stench of the Bartlett Deep. The tide ate our piss and eventually would wipe the haunches of a ship-in-pursuit, lathered, cantering hard. July brought sun and flies enough to sleep-out in shacks built from the overlapped remains of the S.S. Serpentine.

Abashed at never winning back yis cutlass, Regan Sharpless swum from Pettys with a coil of rope in yis mouth, refashioning yimself a pyrate fallen on stiff times. We saw through this act no more or less transparent as any other, humoring yim with pantomiming coconuts. In turn, ye saw through our seeing-through, grateful for humor and small grace.

To mark yis adoption, Sticks proposed a Festival of Knots. We had a preternatural interest in binding one thing to another so as to not slip lose (though some of us countered with a supernatural interest in severing bonds as we had hatcheted our names from our selfhoods and asundered our fated bonnets from dandle). In preparation, we stole hemp hanks, pinched sweetgrass, unraveled satchels, unplucked seams, and unlaced our boots.

Sennit Cord

Also, braided or plaited cord

Strip cattail. Prepare strands by drying then resoaking. Secure four strands with pitch. Take the rightmost strand over the two adjacent and back (right) under one, so it now falls secondmost from the right. Repeat with the leftmost strand: over two strands and back (left) under one. A companion may hold the bound end and gently tug as the plaiter works, to even tension.

Fearless Billie took the stage but only managed a square rig. Jack Jewel, a powder-monkey, brung his kit and demonstrated a sheepshank. The meeker tars stood back til Regan stretched yis rope between two thick fists and asked for someone to play a mast or boom.

“Sticks oughter do it, eh, ʮe’s the closest we got to timber!” We shoved ʮim for’ard. Beamlike, ʮe held ʮis palms tight against ʮis thighs.

Narrating yis movements—over the moat and round the castle; down the hatch and up the ladder; bite the kipper and pull out the spine—Regan hitched and reefed til Sticks was pinioned, limb-to-trunk. Jaw-to-skull. Knee-to-knee. Ah, Regan: pyrate and more-than-pyrate. Our blood up, we jeered the poppet, tipped ʮim over so ʮe wriggled in the dirt like a snake with no head. Billie Orley loomed over ʮim, and we invited ourselves to overcome the limitations of our subtle sex, whether by spit or tears or a flagon of ale, to rain upon ʮim like what pyrates did with their purple frustration a week out to sea.

Regan taunted, “No way to loosen those coils, now, with how you’ve tightened them through straining.”

(Did I intervene? Not if I wanted to keep my place. Poor sap.) Jack handed Regan a knife. It flashed from ankles to belly to throat. Then Regan dragged the dull blade down ʮis front-spine and pressed it, while we watched, into ʮis swollen center, til ʮe held verging on being still and not achieving stillness.

Last week’s theater of cruelty, it were Jack Jewel smearing oil over a smooth rammer and showing how to feed it into a bore. The week before, sharpening bayonets and testing them on our arm. Curled in hammocks, lookers-on leered at the demonstrators, vying for the best view of a mate’s squelched face, waiting for it to contract from sheen to ripple. Or group up in threes and twos, britches gaping. Or, bolder, shouting down, “Don’t hurry” or “Lick until it quivers.” And always Billie Splendor sat on the yardarm, like a cat tonguing its paw.

Fingering Line

Suitable for fishing-line, twine for packaging, plait-holds

Harvest dry fibers twice and a half times as long as your desired finished length. Rewet. Form an “eye” by gently rolling the fibers until they twist upon themselves. Pinch this cross with one hand, then roll each strand in the same orientation, caring not to interfere them. With each few strokes, loosen the tension slightly to allow these two to curl together, twisting downward. The best grip is ensured with fingers moistened by rainwater, or even saliva. With practice, you shall finesse your stroke and form a symmetric, hardy cord.

Though fish swum and we merely had to scoop them into a net, it behooved our coming months to develop a trade-craft and we settled on makering cordage. We ourselves did not travel into the river, no. We’d toss rocks to prove they sink. We’d ferry across. We’d eat the creatures cleaved from their vestry: crab, clam, alewife. But always we kept ourselves from its wet slurp. Spinning a line that hitched river to land, creature to food, beneath to above, suited our glamor.

Each day, before the heat rose, little Billie Lash and Billie Plunket would ride on an empty wagon over Dunwicket Bridge to alight on a marsh where purred cattails. They gathered bales of their leaves. Back in the shade of a hut, we stripped them into filaments. Alone or in pairs, these were twisted or layed, then coiled and hanked. Only the most charming, like Regan and Augustin, would venture to the fishers to trade cording for goods.

The knot had done its work. Sticks was bound to Regan with a rough tow-line. Laughing at yis invented tales of swindling, ʮe was quick to fetch a bowl of grog or mend yis swashbuckle. Drawing a torch from our bonfire, Regan set to test the rope’s hold behind a pile of broken crates and bollards. Several peeked on their scene; they relished the audience. It commenced as a wordless dare for Sticks to bare ʮis neck or arm or thigh. Trembling, the piece of skin and nerve would be submitted to a pie crimper or ice tongs or hay hook (but never whip no not the forbidden instrument of the overseer and horse-wrangler). Here, Regan’s fondness for whimpers did temper yis fondness for yelps as he drew occult designs with yis tools. Whether ʮis abrasions and bruises became more tender, or there was a pink unspooling in ʮis bobbin, we couldn’t tell; but the breath of the young boy’s rhythm was provoked by Regan’s hand. Sticks flackered, reticent to surrender and yet unable to break free. Ḩe was brought to the brink of spilling over, over and over.

Of the two, I pretend to be Regan. I’d rather wield a weapon than not. I presume Billie Orley favored the whelp, need gaping plainly, cleaving like the river cleaves the land the harder it flows. Jack Jewel trades no self, but stayed there just, bearing witness to cruelty’s finesse. We hearken to dyads familiar: master and enslaved, guard and imprisoned, foreman and laborer, trainer and horse, mother and babby, espalier and fig, clock and moment, God and mortal.

Sticks blubbers. Saltwater reminds me of crossing through the vale of tears, crossing the final abyss. Sweat soaks through Regan’s back from the effort at bestowing pain. Bearing ʮis tribulations with such grace, Sticks glows, too. Though ʮe ebbs from ʮis banks, ʮe swells in equal measure. Forces war between them, now thumping a mallet on ʮis arm, now blooming lines of blood from ʮis hip (though never the whip no the whip was for horses and slaves and too far to be requisitioned by the likes of us pyrate-torturers). Since we bask in their drama without intruding, Regan rewards us—cuts loose yis whelp, lays ʮim on a stained carpet and has yis way. One of the sweeter ones, Billie Lash or Cecil, cradles Sticks’ head in their lap, feeding ʮim kisses.

The whelp invited terror to ʮis orchard, face-to-face, to counterbalance terror’s wiley pounces out of anything, out of a memory of a haystack, out of a knot got wrong. Leeching pain from unexposed roots and drawing it up to where ʮe could tattoo it as ʮis own. Choosing the hour of ʮis persecution rather than leaving it to God’s hazard.

Hasty Cord

Once one masters finger-rolling, one may advance to the “thigh roll.” As before, form an eye. Those with a dominant right hand would use their left thigh, slightly dampened. With the at of one’s hand, roll both plies from you separately to create twist. Press the splay-shape with the left hand. To join them, roll the left palm back and forth. When they have tension, draw the right palm towards the body so they curl in the opposite direction of their twist. Take care to separate the plies before repeating these motions. If one’s thigh is thick of hair, it may be advisable to shave it smooth.

Summer evaporated. A log appeared on our shore and was soon joined by another. None witnessed how Regan “salvaged” this lumber, nor how ye dragged it from shipyards unscathed. When ye had amassed ten, ye lashed them with Xs to build a raft. For three nights, ye stripped a long pole of its bark and burnished it with sand.

The Night of Spirits inspired a cadre of costumes, from a raven with bloodied beak to a New York gentleman with popping buttons. I played a jester, of course, and Billie Blue a snallygaster. Regan disguised yimself as a particular psychopomp, even stringing a rope back of Cohocksink Creek to pull yis raft along. Poor Sticks could manage nothing more than a pyrate from Captain Johnson’s, in harem-scarem calico and a wooden dagger.

We drank our way to the foot of the ferry, but none would give Regan-cum-Kharon a copper (or a likeness of one) nor abandon land, for the raft quaked and we treasured our painted faces. The pyrate fished in ʮis coinpurse to buy passage, claiming ʮe had looted a handsome schooner. Onto the roof of ʮis mouth like a proper host. (You’ll have to forgive their folly, with their ragbag of paganry and Christian.)

Regan steadied the raft for Sticks. They receded into the dark water. When the raft scraped the opposite bank, the psychopomp drew, in the air, a few strange magicks. They high-stepped, mindful of not permitting a single drop of the waters of forgetfulness to plash their hems. And so arrived on the opposite shore drenched in remembering.

How to Hobble A Horse

A property hobbled horse will be trusting and docile. Even left unmoored, it cannot wander too far. Loop a soft cotton rope around the right front pastern, twist the rope about a hand’s width, then tie around the left with a square knot. In a pinch, a torn-up burlap sack or leather strips can substitute. Hobble-train for only a few minutes at a time until your horse calms. A billet attached to the hobble keeps you in control.

Without life’s shore to clutch, Sticks grew haunted. Ḩe found ʮimself led within a deserted livery. Ushering a soul into the land of death, the final journey, shot Regan through with power. Sight would be the first to go, wrapping the whelp’s face in a dark cloath. Then ʮis liberty, trussing ʮis ankles and wrists. Then ʮis pitiable voice, clogged with a rag. Regan lit a bee’s wax stub in a chipped cup. Ye stole a throat gurgle by pinching ʮis pudge. Ye stole a tremble by knowing where to pommel.

Thievery: the porthole. Hadn’t that been the lesson at the orchard? Pollard the trees to encourage growth, to stimulate their limbs? That each lopped branch would surge forth anew in spring? Each drop of blood would tell is bloodcules to churn up more blood. Each bruise would herald new skin. Each insult would draw from ʮim the means of contradiction til ʮe rose anew, many-limbed and greening.

Onto to the floor of the livery had sifted years of froth-scraping and whip-braiding (the whips long gone no none in sight), driplets of lanolin and spit and cat piss. Sticks wondered, how did the gift of ʮis obeisance, ʮis overcrowded fear, get awarded? All at once, in a surge, or trickling? Did it vanish cunningly before ʮis beloved brute like a were-light on a black ship, receding to draw them further into the gloom? And if it was cunning, then, was Sticks the one knotted to Regan, or the other way round?

Regan raised the ferry-pole and thwacked it down, sending Sticks’ soul scurrying into a pile of mildewed hay enveloped by moths. How weightless, without a soul. How astral.

How to Braid a Horse-Whip or Nine-Tail

For reasons which shall be aparrent to the seeker of this design of braiding a horsewhip, we have sought to refer any inquisitive leather-worker to reconsider how he can assuredly protect the means of finessing such a powerful tool of correction. And to keep it from those who may seek to abuse its uses in ungodly ways. And to keep it from the insurrectionary. And to secure it from the boy who, curious at its crack, will try his wrist at a flick.

The whelp, unhampered by ʮis soul yet still in command of is body, remembered is name Sticks (that piercing verb, stabbing, binding, attaching), that e was lurching in the land of the dead and stood, breaking the drama. Regan dropped yis pole. They tangled hand to hand, hip to hip in horse shit and cooling wax and thin shadow. When they had spent their muscle, Sticks jabbed is fingers into every place they would venture. Opening cavelets and hollows which Regan had spent years enclosing with backfill.

“Yar, I heard em always snickering Oh that sticks  more like twigs    qwee-qwee    never a mast      huh never a broad timber They’re permissioned by your slaps and spitting to tease sticks-the-paltry It got worse dint it when I carved my jenny I thought she was right proud and polished she fit in my hand sure nough but No they slipped toothpicks into my pockets slivers of god knows what tree and You you grow fat off gristle I I tell myself listen little one, Ye’s different ye’s mine ye’s not a briar not truly but a sweet prick ye’s a misprint, eh the title telling one truth and the story t’other For Spirits Night I told meself the same—The Devil yimself takes your place and still I put to it the words dissembling and masquerades” Regan raises yis hand to protest and the monologue slaps it down “and yet the Devil’s very fork is provoking me I may be brittle and all to set ablaze and your tinder-pet and your cosseted fellow I shall not be sundered from my sweet soul I am flesh, I am         ” here ʮe draws imself into a body for ʮe had done with wherreting if it meant that e was trading pain for dispossession. Our cruelty had crisscrossed with the judgment of angels (with their pure cold distance) and twinned them like a two-headed dog, all bite and no direction.

Returning without yis pole or handsome cloak, we knew that Regan had frayed yis tether to Sticks and regretted of it. Their theater fell dark.

Exhibits: The Museum of Fastening

Umbilical cord (attaches embryo to a source of nourishment)

Shackles (imprisons one limb to another to hamper mobility)

Keckle (on a ship, chains wound around a cable to prevent fretting by ice or rock)

Yoke (wooden device for joining two draft animals to a farming implement)

Tide (evidence of the moon’s bond with Earth’s waters)

Ligature (two letters combined into one symbol: æ, œ, β)

Dictionary (array of words which tether objects to their name)

Coptic binding (early Christian method to sew folios into a book)

Affixes (morphemes added at the beginning, the middle, or end of words)

Precedent (act to obligate the present to the past)

Confederacy (a league of participants united by common cause)

Sacrament (rite which bestows God’s grace)

While we sleep, Regan finds Stick’s bedroll by the scent of beeswax. Regardless of the peril ye invited at such a tender of desire, ye makes a gift of willow splines and gauze and a fine hemp string and whispers how ye’d not meant to whelp ʮim so dreadfully, that ye sought repentance of yis power-mongry with the gift of flight. Sticks hears yim out like a priest hearing confession, though in ʮis strings, ʮe’s already kited high so the river splinters like ʮis love above the ordinary tumult of thunderclouds and sails into a sea of stars undisturbed by neither Devil nor God.

Julian Mithra (they/them) hovers between genders and genres, border-mongering and -mongreling. An experimental archive, Unearthingly (KERNPUNKT, 2022) excavates forgotten spaces. If the Color Is Fugitive (Nomadic Press) stages an escape from frontier taxonomies and was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award. KALEIDOSCOPE (Ethel Press) flexes transembodiment against alphabetic constraints.