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The Ocean Inside Him

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After Kenji Takezo fell from a wave,
The turbulence of whitewash confused
His sense of direction.
He breathed in
When he should have
Held tight. By accident, he swallowed
The Pacific. The water poured down his throat,
A blue cascade he could not see.
He felt in his stomach
The heavy life of the ocean.
It wasn’t funny, but he giggled
When a school of fish tickled his ribs.
He went home, the surf not rideable,
It was no longer there,
The water weighted in his belly.
That night, while he slept, the tide moved.
The long arms of the moon
Reached inside him pulling the Pacific free.
When he woke the next morning,
He lay in a puddle of ocean that was his.

Rick Noguchi, "The Ocean Inside Him" from The Ocean Inside. Copyright © 1996 by Rick  Noguchi. All rights are controlled by the University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA 15260. Used by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press.
Source: The Ocean Inside (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1996)
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The Ocean Inside Him

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  • Rick Noguchi is the author of two collections of poetry, The Wave He Caught (Pearl Editions, 1995) and The Ocean Inside Kenji Takezo (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1996), and is the co-author (with Deneen Jenks) of the children’s book Flowers from Mariko (Lee & Low, 2001). Noguchi earned a BA in English from California State University, Long Beach, an MFA in creative writing from Arizona State University, and an MBA from Pepperdine University. His work has been published in a variety of journals and anthologies, including Asian American Poetry: The Next Generation; Place as Purpose: Poetry from the Western States; Motion: American Sports Poems; American Poetry: The Next Generation; The New Young American Poets: An Anthology; and Fever Dreams: Contemporary Arizona Poets. Noguchi serves as a senior program officer in the arts at the James Irvine Foundation.

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