desert illustration

Two Poems by Jennifer Litt

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That Bloomin’ Desert 

You’re hiking in Pontotoc Canyon when your hydration pack rings. You hold the bladder to your ear and speak into the blue drinking tube. It’s a guy named Saguaro from the Society of Benevolent Cacti. The desert’s holding a blood drive this weekend. Can we count on you for a pint?  You’d really like to give, you tell him, but you get woozy even thinking about needles. I understand, Saguaro says, but his tone says otherwise. You try to tell him about your tiny rolling veins. O please, you universal donor types are all the same. He severs the connection. You forget to pay attention and trip on loose scree, spear your finger on a pincushion cactus and the tip flowers — ocotillo feeds the arid soil until your platelets stem the flow. Bloody cactus, you say. I’m B positive. It echoes through the canyon. You wear your heart on your sleeve, but you’ve got blood on your hands. You’ve been mistyped and misunderstood. Ten minutes later, another call. Next time, give, says Saguaro, not bothering to disguise his voice. Prick, you say, and turn back toward the trailhead.

How To Die in Oregon

unfunny (adj.) 1. dramatic, melancholy, sad, serious,
tragic, especially recurring liver cancer at the age of 54;
the surprise pregnancy of cirrhosis with two children
grown; the lean body and hollow cheeks you once
desired now come with yellow skin and yellow eyes.
2. common, standard, normal, usual, i.e. how to die
with dignity in Oregon when your acute pain exceeds
the chronic dread of bidding the family good-bye;
you’ll know when it’s time; you’ll mix your Seconal
cocktail, drink up, doctor prescribed.

Jennifer Litt teaches writing at Saint John Fisher College in Rochester, New York, and is the sole proprietor of Jennifer Litt Writing Services ( Jennifer’s poetry has appeared in several anthologies and journals, including Jet Fuel Review, Lake Affect, LUMINA, Mixed Fruit, and nycBigCityLit. She lives with her cat Heroin (Fancy Feast) Phantom on a quiet, tree-lined boulevard in the heart of Rochester.

Lead image: “desert” (image via Flickr user Lukasz Strachanowski)