Rick Noguchi

The Way Tony Tsujimura Walked

Mr. Tsujimura, after witnessing two birds,
A sparrow and a dove, collide ahead of him in mid air,
Turned to walk backwards so he would not observe
Ever again a debacle as frightful as that.


No longer does he see what is coming.
He lives instead in the world behind him
Where the view changed completely
The way in which he understood the universe.


What he sees now is what he never saw
Before: a long look at where he’s been,
The green mountains in the distance,
The long shadows of trees reaching for dusk.


Still he does not like often what he sees:
A young man hauling a television on his back,
A well-dressed woman fingering her nose,
The children in the street dodging cars.


But Mr. Tsujimura kept on walking in reverse,
Saying “so long” to passers-by who said “hello.”
He was reassured to see that
None of these people ever laughed at him.


So skilled did he become at going backwards
That he avoided gracefully
The tricycles left on the sidewalk.
He hopped over sewer covers left wide open.


Then he took up reading while he walked.
Before he could finish Sartre’s Being and Nothingness,
Which claims that people are what they choose to be,
Mr. Tsujimura fell victim to a falling piano.


He never knew what was coming.