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Two Poems

by Rick Noguchi

The Shoes of Larry Arakawa

His shoes were made of water

And when he walked he flowed.

One foot after the other,

His stride kept him moving

Gracefully forward so that he strolled.

He floated.

His was the recognizable walk of elegance.

All the neighbors knew him:

The man who sauntered the streets

Each step full of piety.

He walked with the strength of the universe

Under his feet, yet no one knew

Where he went. He always drifted through

Gallantly, so distinguished in his meander.

If anyone tried to follow him,

His shoes were prone to a shift in tide.

He then gathered the momentum of a river—

He rushed, and in his rush he surged ahead

To walk the walk of a flash flood.

He cut a path

Clearing everything before him.

Behind him, he left a mess.

Welcome mats, lawn ornaments, cars scattered

Everywhere, yet his foot prints evaporated

Into air.

Mr. Ken Asawa, the Man with Two Left Feet

Even if he wore one of each shoe,

A left side and a right side, people would still notice

That Mr. Asawa was full of grace.

His walk was perfectly choreographed.

His stride elegant, yet powerful.

He walked the walk of man

Self assured in his every step.

Despite the fact that his body wanted

Always to pull right, veer away from his path.

Instead he wore what he had, two left

Shoes for two left feet.

A right shoe on a left foot where a right foot should be

Made no sense to Mr. Asawa

Who walked the walk of any other

Man only better. The spring in his gait

Precise for someone with two left feet.

A left foot in a right shoe would provide

No support for his arch and would damage his sole.

It was how he knew the world,

A little off center, a slight draw to the side.

Mr. Asawa learned early to compensate for the difference,

The tilt in the earth’s axis which no one notices.

For him, the misalignment was normal

And so he walked a straight line

The same as everyone else—one foot after another.

Although his foot prints reveal otherwise.