Morris Graves’ Summer Flowers For Denise, 1978; Wanting Your Every
Morris Graves’ Summer Flowers For Denise, 1978
The letter is grey velvet. There are seven words
inside. A blue proceeds it, after.
Such is the sprinkle of light! So that is the message
for the day. I do not think I am always there
but want to be there. They speak
in busy conversation. Love listening to you.
Have you been to the outer reaches lately?
Last time I saw you—
you were so busy.
It was among the twists and turns of metal.
There above small shapes.
Wanting Your Every
Wanting your every weekend thought
the weekdays filled to the brim
the new sun overwhelming
splitting tulips their sleeping bees
now awake and circling
drowsy like capsules of mown grasses
wings thin slices of sun
fountains filling with clean cold water
small buds starting on the Italian plum
Iris blades bending into wood chips
and the robins in Leatherwood's pasture
are fat fruits the future hopping then listening
but not seeming to listen to every wiggling
movement every noise of dirt and pebble
please tell me if this is madness if this is clouds
their underbellies lit and static matching blossoms
matching birdbath cinder-block chimney oil barrel
roof lawn drying opposite sides of leaves
Susan Kay Anderson, 2010 National Poetry Series Finalist, has an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Eastern Oregon University. Her book of poems, Mezzanine (2019), is available from Finishing Line Press. Anderson was the poetry editor of Big Talk, a free publication in the early 1980s featuring Pacific Northwest punk bands. She earned degrees in anthropology from the University of Oregon (B.S.) and English Literature & Creative Writing from the University of Colorado, Boulder (M.A. & Jovanovich Award). Her poems, essays, stories, and interviews can be found in: Barrow Street Press 4 X 2 Project, Beat Scene, BlazeVOX Journal Spring 2016, Concis, Caliban Online, Guernica, Honolulu Civil Beat, Mojave River Review, Oregon East, Panoplyzine, Prairie Schooner, Tom Clark Beyond The Pale, and are forthcoming in Silver Needle Press Review and Lily Poetry Review. Anderson was recently involved in archival work in Denver where she helped Jennifer Dunbar Dorn with cataloging Ed Dorn's personal library. She lives in Eugene, Oregon.
"Morris Graves' Summer Flowers For Denise, 1978 is based on the painting by the artist Morris Graves called "Summer Flowers For Denise, 1978." I wrote this a few years ago when I was working on my M.F.A. in Creative Writing through Eastern Oregon University. I was in the Eugene Public Library looking at a book of Morris Graves' work and saw this. Poets Melissa Kwasny and David Axelrod really like Graves and his work and talked a lot about him in La Grande. This painting caught my attention because the title has the name Denise in it, the name of my friend (Denise Marie Hall) whom I miss terribly at times. She lived in Eugene for the majority of her short life. The paintings of Graves are said to be transcendentalist in nature. They also really remind me of my friend Denise and of her artwork, not that their art styles match or anything like that, but the feeling I get when I see these paintings and then think of my friend matches. I was asked if Graves was dedicating this painting to Denise Levertov. I didn't really find out if this was the case or not.
Wanting Your Every was written during a poetry workshop I took with Fred Marchant. The theme of the workshop was Dreams and Dreaming. I like writing poems that might surprise Marchant because he has been around the block a few times, poetry-wise, and it is a challenge to stump him or exasperate him. I mean, I try, but he is wise to this sort of thing, too, and I am not let off the hook just because I try to shock him or something, but am made to be responsible even when overdoing it---carrying that forward and dealing with it then to see what a poem might be saying. This is what happened here."