The Cadence of Mercy

Richard Levine’s The Cadence of Mercy insists the contradictions of praise and blame, the march of events, belong to us all. “Are [we] suffering/ from loss or too much memory?” And in “Fall,” the recurring wonder of tenderness: “Didn’t we fall into that exquisite /embrace with nothing to hold / us up but each other?” This is a spirited collection, ranging from the historical fate of the Indians, the Holocaust, our melting pot America, the ritual blessing of making bread, the [Brooklyn] Dodgers, Vietnam, what we learned on the playground and in school: “Leaving for holiday, I pack / language and inventions we shaped, history/we made. All our fingerprints are there.”

Richard, a Marine’s during Tet ’68, where he was wounded, is the author of Snapshots from a Battle (2001), A Language Full of Wars and Songs (2004), That Country’s Soul (2010), A Tide of a Hundred Mountains (2012), and The Cadence of Mercy (2014). His poem “Believe This” was featured in former Poet Laureate Ted Kooser’s column, “American Life in Poetry”. In 2010, Levine’s poem “Picket Fences” was a runner-up for Rosebud magazine’s William Stafford Award for Poetry. A retired teacher, he is learning to steward a forest. He lives in Brooklyn.