A Poem by Rob Gray: “The Rhododendron and Camellia Year Book (1966)”

—for Richard and Frances Chiem

1

We need
More men like Richard
Sons, brothers, uncles and
Fathers like Richard

We need
More women like Richard
Daughters, sisters, aunts and
Mothers like Richard

We need
More poets like Richard
Poems like Richard
Books like Richard

We need
More metaphors like Richard
We need
More architects like Richard

To build sustainable and affordable housing like Richard
Bungalows
Churches
Mosques

Tenement buildings
Skyscrapers
Synagogues and
Supermarkets like Richard

We need
More rooms with high ceilings like Richard
We need
More furniture like Richard

Tables
Chairs
Beds
Bedside tables

Lamps
Carpets
Houseplants
Clocks

Candles
Doors
Windows
French windows like Richard

We need
More chandeliers like Richard
We need
More chefs like Richard

To prepare more meals like Richard
Appetizers
Desserts
Six courses

Seven courses
Fuck it! Eight courses
Cocktails
Wine

Beer
Complimentary glasses of water
Tea
Coffee

Pie
Bread
Butter
Cheese like Richard

We need
More pizza like Richard
We need
More bourbon like Richard

We need
More flora and fauna like Richard
Peach orchards
Orchid blossoms

Vineyards
Horses
Antelope
Elephants

Oceans
Algae
Shellfish
Krakens

Killer whales
Hammerhead sharks
Jelly Gold
and Starfish like Richard

We need
More gardens like Richard with
Angelica
Tulips

Turnips
Monarch butterflies
Hummingbirds
Dragonflies

Bluebottles
Mosquitoes
Wasps
Earthworms

Snails and slugs like Richard
We need
More cats like Richard
We Need More Cats

2

On the eleventh of October
Twenty fourteen
We were gathered to witness
Richard and Frances

Become a bouquet
The room was full of love
And we were all like Richard
And Richard was like Frances

So we were all like Frances
We danced like Richard
To music like Frances
Into the night like Richard

On Monday morning
I held hands with David
As we walked past a mirror
And I saw myself as Richard

Holdings hands with David as Richard
All four of us smiling Frances’ smile
I saw a book
The Rhododendron and Camellia

Year Book (1966)
A novel length list of
blooms
No pictures

Are two flowers a bouquet?
I think so
And somewhere in Seattle
Richard and Frances

Perhaps eating breakfast
Two blooms all elbows
On the kitchen table kissing

 

 

***

Rob Gray is an artist, musician, and writer in Portland, Oregon. He is a member of theLovely Book Club, which is more like a yacht club really, and spends most his time working at Full Life, a day program for adults with developmental disabilities. Rob was born in London, England, grew up in Karlsruhe, Germany, lived in the Bay Area and Santa Barbara, CA before settling in the Pacific Northwest. He has been living, working, making and sharing art, music, and poetry in Portland since 2009.  

Image: palmers.co.nz

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