to be human is not an act of desecration | Laura Leigh Cissell

Image: Mohit Tomar
to be human is not an act of desecration
to live humanly is not anathema to nature. 
I do not apologize for my humanness.


I do not apologize for the flower I picked
and carried in my hand to the mountaintop.
I spoke to the flower like an old friend 
then loosed her on the wind 
watching petals and stamen soar 
across the river rich valley below.
I do not apologize for this.


I do not apologize for the shade I stand in
cast by brick and mortar and bitumen.

I do not apologize for the steel faucet I turn
loosing earth-cooled water from buried pipes,

filling my mouth with metallic-tinged life
crystal and blooming, pouring down my chin, 

splashing crisp against my bare feet.
I do not apologize for this seasonal waterfall.


I do not apologize for trails followed through grass and wood,
for the dent in the forest floor where I sat 
and shared lunch with a kingfisher: 
----------He, a silver-green fish, snared fresh
----------I, clementine, grown far from this alpine stream.


To be human is not an act of desecration.

I am nature as trees
nature as salmon spawned in rivers far from the sea
nature as lichen on scree
nature as lion, as leopard 
----------as beaver, as bison 
nature as wildfire, as hurricane
as water lifted as mist, as water dropped in flakes
as daisies carpeting desert sands.

I am nature as the curious cat–
slow stalking intrigue
delight of game, of pounce
of crunch, of blood
glutted and full of mouse.

I am humanness.
I am holiness. 
I am a masterpiece.

Laura Leigh Cissell (she/they) is an autistic, queer Texan expat residing in the Colorado foothills. They are the head of data analytics for a tech startup, an MFA candidate at Regis University, a spouse, parent, and occasionally a poet. Laura’s greatest sadness is that all the sea turtles of the world will never know how much she loves them.

Languishing | Eli Whittington

Image: Josh Hoehne


How we languished!
How we laid, and sat, and crouched
In shady buildings
As the sun burned above
How we scrolled, eyes rolled
How we tucked fingers into familiar patterns
Familiar shapes greeted us
How we giggled inanely at short silly videos
How we condemned
Strangers from afar
How we fretted!
How we exhausted ourselves
Doing nothing
And never slept.

How we languished!
In the shade we laid
And sat and crouched
On porch steps and stoops
As the sun burned
Freckles into polaroids of summer memories
How we rolled cigarettes
And plucked strings
Into familiar patterns
How we condemned politicians from afar
And fretted
About garden pests and
Polluted rivers.
How we exhausted ourselves
Doing nothing.

And O!
How we languished!
Grins splitting like ripe fruit as we
Sat and crouched
On leaf-littered ground and
Moss-covered tree-limbs
We laid in the shade of fruit-bearing trees
As the sun simmered above
How our eyes glazed in the dappled shade of the canopy
How we tucked fingers into familiar fur
Nibbled our neighbors lice
Giggled inanely
At our children’s antics
How we napped!
How we fought
Strangers from afar and
How we fretted
When the storms
And the big cats came
How we exhausted ourselves
Doing nothing
And slept
Like the dead.

Eli Whittington published a book entitled “Treat Me Like You Treat the Earth” in 2019 through Suspect Press. Eli is a queer, bi-polar Colorado-raised and Denver-abiding poet.  They are a parent, a singer/songwriter, gardener, carpenter, tiler, biker, and hiker.  Despite these character flaws, they do not enjoy IPAs.  Their love of folk-punk remains unexplained, as they are not an addict, are well over 20, and have functioning eardrums.