So long to the horses: this night
we go out from the lake’s surface,
our hair tied together.
Now is the sound of floating.


Enter the water: the hairs
on your skin will rise
to meet the sun
when it’s dawn & we’re deep


down the fin’s shine, the sand
lifting from earth.
Everything is suspended here.
No horse, go home.


Here: a siren.
It’s a while till morning.
Let’s swim till we can’t remember
so far as we can make it without


“These Bestial Nights” promises to be a full series of terse poems that consider what it is to be a(n) animal/human or what it is to be human in a world where animals (and humans alike) are unpredictable, but still malleable in a variety of ways. In these four sections, we say farewell to stability, to what is tactile. We enter a world we know little about: the sea. Here, the laws of nature transmute. We no longer touch the earth’s surface, but are suspended in water. However vastly different our environment is, there remains life, and often, that life is as strange as it is beautiful. And yet, as we are human (in these four poems), there are limitations: we cannot fully interact with this world due to physical constraints. Time is always something we are subject to, something we are continually forced to count.


Erin J. Mullikin is the author of After Milk & Song (Stepping Stones Press 2010). Her work has appeared in GlitterPony, BlazeVOX, Gently Read Literature, and other journals. She studies literature and poetry at Clemson University.

'Time Passing', Kate Angus

'Ugolino', John Poch

'Girl Lesson #3', Sandy Longhorn