Catch and Other Poems
by Richard Michael Levine

Praise for
Catch and Other Poems

Catch and Other Poems forcefully reminds us that the first and foremost power of the imagination is to see. Vividly looking backward or forward, or brilliantly in the present, these poems plunge us into the stuff of life with clarity, depth of feeling and pizzazz. —Dean Young, author of Bender: New and Selected Poems

As he tells us in “Catch,” the title poem of his first collection, Richard Michael Levine learned to speak the language of the heart through playing catch with his father and brother. It’s a language he uses here in all its aspects, from the serious to the playful, the clever to the tender, the gently self-mocking to the bracingly self-aware. Levine’s years of work as a journalist and fiction writer serve him well. His eye for the telling detail is keen, his ear accurate, and his love for words everywhere apparent. —Lynne Knight, author of Again

“Does it matter so much if the universe is beige?” Not to this poet, who sees the world in all its sometimes muted colors and complexities, and embraces it with wit, empathy and a sharp eye for detail. From the myths evoked by the scientific names of the rocks in his own childhood collection (“aragonite, wulfenite, siderite, ulexite—like ancient warriors from distant lands”) to a grandchild’s ears, “pink and slightly translucent/like cyclamen petals in the light,” Levine captures the moments that vividly plot the line of a life. These honest, plain-spoken poems tell stories, ask questions, express sorrow, elicit laughter, and nudge readers into their own recollections and recognitions. —Rebecca Foust, author of All That Gorgeous Pitiless Song

“Catch is how we talked to one another,” writes Richard Michael Levine in the title poem. “Liner,” “Drive me back,” “High fly,” he and his brother shout to their father in this idyllic, nicely caught moment of boyhood. Reading and rereading these poems, I want to shout in praise, “Good catch!” In one of the poems, “A Note on the Type,” Levine describes an imaginary font he calls Georgette as “seductive, even racy, elegant, confident, classic yet very contemporary,” which I find an apt description of the whole collection. —Robert Sward, author of New and Selected Poems, 1957–2011


One of us would say “Let’s play catch”
and we’d all grab our oil-treated gloves
and a hardball and go jouncing down
the bumpy hill in the big brown beat-up
Buick with loose suspension
to the town park on Long Island Sound.
The grass was new-mown in rectilinear patterns
or overgrown, feather-soft and dandelion-strewn.
We’d spread out and shout “Liner,”
“Drive me back,” “High fly,” “Grounder,”
“Send me wide,” and Dad would
comply unerringly.
Homer’s heroes had nothing
on the Dodgers we imagined being:
fleet-footed Amoros and strong-armed Furillo
or the Duke, prowling center so confidently
he’d make the toughest play seem a snap.
Not us. We’d make the easiest seem hard
to show off all our stuff,
leaping high to snag a fly
a little overhead or diving for a line drive
close by and rolling to a stop.
Even on cloudy days I’d cup my eyes
with both hands waiting for the ball to drop
out of a blinding sun in the nick of time,
then turn to fire home, where Dad would
wince in mock pain to show how much it burned
or pretend to be Campanella tagging out
the winning run sliding to the plate.
Or he’d clap his hands silently
in the distance. What bliss!
It’s funny, I don’t recall my father
giving me advice about girls and sex
or how to be a man or deal with loss.
All we did was toss a ball.
I don’t remember sharing dreams
or secrets with my brother.
Catch was how we talked to one another.