Rick Noguchi

The Water Makes Him

No one moves on the ocean dancefloor
The way Disco Dave Shimura does.
So smooth is his style,
The other surfers stop
Mid-paddle to watch him.
They pass on waves, letting him have
His choice of partners—
The tallest ones with sinuous shape.


Disco Dave gyrates with precise timing.
He bumps here and turns there,
Spins his hands in a blurr in front of him,
Then breaks them apart to point
One at the sun,
His personal glitter ball,
And the other at the shallows reflecting
The morning light.
He pauses in the moment
Before continuing down the wall.


And his hair always,
Feathered back in steady offshore wind,
Stays perfectly combed.
Even when he slashes hard off the top
Sending an explosion into the air,
He recovers–each dark strand in place.
On his chest, too,
The hair looks carefully groomed
Adorned with thick gold chains
That whirl around his neck
When he slices against the crest.


In the ocean, the pulse of water
Beats through him
And he performs manuevers
The other surfers only dream of:
Pirouettes under the cascading curtain,
Inverted pivots in the critical zone,
And 360 aerial acrobatics off the blue surface.


But on land Disco Dave does not dance.
The stability makes him sick.
His tan skin turns pale and he perspires.
Nausea heaves in his belly
Like a swell surging nearing shore.
His head, in the absence of buoyancy,
Stays stationary. The tide
Inside him stands still.
Its push and pull across the canals ceases,
Settles evenly in the ducts of his ears,
His equilibrium confused.


On solid ground, his sea-legs do not obey him,
There is too much balance.
So when he walks, he walks carefully,
No bounce in his step. He has
No rhythm of ocean to comply with.
He walks the walk of a man
On stilts. The measure exact,
The placement cautious.


Disco Dave on land is not Disco Dave.
He is the figure
Constructed with two straight lines
For legs, the bend neglected from its knees,
The circular head with unkempt hair,
Scribbled in as an afterthought.
On land, Disco Dave is just Dave.
Dave with the anonymous face of a stick man.