The Outdoor Poet: Richard Levine

Turning Seventy at a B&B on Clear Lake

Suppose for a moment I hadn’t turned seventy that day
And the jagged hills didn’t monitor my heart
Nor the grebes on the lake float their separate ways.

Lost friends and lovers flitted through my mind
Like the yellow-bellied warblers in the sedge.
Suppose for a moment I hadn’t turned seventy that day.

I was reading a book about Caravaggio
Short-lived sinner/saint of light and shadow
As the grebes on the lake fluttered their separate ways.

Then two of the birds paired off, their fluid necks
And pressed breasts forming a heart that soothed my own.
Suppose for a moment I hadn’t turned seventy that day.

My wife and I held hands and stared in wonder
As the mates dove down for some grass to offer each other
While the rest of the grebes floated their separate ways.

They rose to their feet and skied off together so fast
And so far they left a wake of winking water.
Suppose for a moment I hadn’t turned seventy that day
And seen the grebes on the lake dance away.

—First published in Tule Review, Fall 2012; nominated for Pushcart Prize.

About The AuthorRichard Michael Levine was a magazine writer and editor for many years, publishing feature articles and columns in Harper’s, Esquire, The New York Times Magazine, and many others. His non-fiction book Bad Blood: A Family Murder in Marin County was a bestseller. His poems have appeared widely in literary magazines, and he has received a Pushcart nomination. He is now seeking a publisher for his first short story collection, The Man Who Gave Away His Organs. He lives in Oakland, California, with his wife, writer Lucille Lang Day.

The Outdoor Poet is edited by Robert Sward, author of numerous books of poetry including, most recently, New and Selected Poems: 1957-2011 (Red Hen Press). He lives on the Westside with his wife, the artist Gloria Alford, and a poodle mix named Cosette. Participation in The Outdoor Poet is by invitation.

Robert Sward reads Sept. 3 at Gabriella Cafe's monthly literary salon. Learn more here.

The Outdoor Poet: Lucille Lang Day
The Outdoor Poet: Susan Cohen
The Outdoor Poet: David Alpaugh


Field Notes

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The Catfish Fry

"beneath the murky
surface, fledgling
catfish fry, flit
and fly, soaring on
their small black wings.

they devour algae from
the frigid aqueous shroud,
a miniature flock of
frantic minnow-feed,
a frenzied predatory crowd.

alone they feast,
free from thought of fright.
‘till: Falunk! an
avenging algaed rock
sends the flitting fish to flight."

I am a wildlife biologist and poet in Santa Cruz, and if you want to read more I have a book available on my website


Science poetry, with the word "falunk?" Where've you been hiding?!