FIVE POEMS from Adam Deutsch, the first of which is titled L.A.

My sister’s cat
attacks our toes,
stretched to bed’s end.
He gets out. Goes
as far as Redondo
every few months
and she calls me, crying.

I bend a wire hanger,
to fish out a fist of hair
from the shower drain
that might as well be
a young squirrel
clawing at the pipe
fighting the entire way,
out of love for her.

Precious few squirrels
in southern California.
And claps of thunder.
They’ve been replaced
by stag horn plants,
painted faces,
and a girl who says,
Dude, that chick is hot.
Wait. Dude that chick
is a hot dude, dude.

In the Year of the Parking Violation
The neighbor lady hasn’t moved her car,
and will not wake by seven, much less ten,
and photos are printed on white tickets,
tucked snug in to the little yellow sleeves.
To chock the front wheels to the chunky curb
lips is a rest in gravity’s safety
where mechanism dries, sets, and holds tight.
It’s a frozen fused contact a mallet
couldn’t break. There’s always another ply:
smash, cycle, smith all the stories we know
about squandering and deaths into one
multi-tool. A single forged artifact.
Novelty, utility, clairvoyance,
no need for an instruction manual.

Across from 7-11 on Adams Ave.
A single flea landed and spit
on your ring-finger toe. He tried

to burrow into the made down bed,
but you trapped him in a water glass.

He jumped around in there for one day
and another, lost steam, and dropped

on his side. The three words I’ve repeated
most seem to be, Are you okay?

We soak q-tips in baby soap and run
them on the rims of our eyelids.

I head out down the arm of road
below the Hazard Memorial Bridge

over the deep freeway. Pure wind sends me
jagged through lanes on a small street bike.

Giants are down there, sighing thunder.
Each of their bodies brace the bedrock.

Dr. Pepper Through a Red Vine
Nature had nothing
to do with this.

Someone punctures
paper wrapped straws
with a sewing needle,
and soda
flecks everywhere.

Table flowers away of the sun
remain bright for weeks.

Crows are clearly gulls
who’ve feasted on car parts.

Bundled in wool, I face
the state road, behind
the protection of glass
around the lobby
of the Roscoe Diner,

looking into the breath
of a trucker who’s had
the special, and order
an apple to go.
It’s a comic strip thought
cloud. One replaces another.

Popeye Poem
You cannot drive halfway home
before you remember
you’ve left supper behind
if your keys are tucked
beneath the groceries
in the job’s fridge.

When I grew up I wanted to work
as a few gross of stacked soup cans,
who longs for an end cap
on the last aisle and for a gutsy child
to ride the back of a shopping cart
and sail that baby right into my stack
to bring down an entire display to a tile floor.

One is dropped and dented. You have
to a huck a can pretty damn hard,
and an awful lot, to bust it open.

But, oh, to have lived a while and die
in Popeye’s hand, a fist of spinach freed
in an arc that ends at his squinted gullet.

To be a sacrifice that comes before a brawl
with the goons and a sea hag for an Olive
Oyl who everyone wants to be near.

Adam Deutsch lives in San Diego, teaches college composition and writing, and has work recently or forthcoming in Coconut, Thrush, Spinning Jenny, H_NGM_N, and Jelly Bucket. He is the Poet-in-Residence at AleSmith Brewing Company, and the publisher at Cooper Dillon Books.