Teapots and Sentiment Tea

Our friend Mark collected teapots.

We used to hang out in groups
loose collectives of young honey bees
raging in a beehive structure
vaguely understood by


One blue day
when Brisbane began to warm
we swarmed to the Spring Hill fair
jazz notes floating on heating air
in concert with wafts of incense
street food and muti-coloured tshirts for sale
too many but never enough
pots of icy cold fourex beer
scotch and coke, if you’d won last nights
game of cards
off our face laughter
time on our hands
in the laziest of hazy days.

A brightly coloured fat teapot
came home with us in the yellow cab.

Groups change shape over time
sulk off into the distance
when outsiders pick us off, one by one.

Mark was picked off early
just another traffic accident
on the 6 o’clock news.

I’ll never forget his collection of teapots.


Dedicated to the memory of Mark Patrick

28 thoughts on “Teapots and Sentiment Tea

  1. I remember those type of Spring Hill Fairs well, went to many and you have captured the tone and atmosphere perfectly. The tone is beautifully balanced a real and living tribute, not mawkish at all.

  2. I am sorry for the loss of your friend. What a wonderful tribute to him. I am fascinated by the fact he collected teapots because I am a bit of a teapot collector myself. Fat teapots are the best.

    You created such a sense of immediacy with this poem that I could hear the fairground chatter in the background. Another goody from you!

    1. I have a few teapots myself – they have a certain flair and can also come in handy when wanting a brew. A brewed pot beats a teabag any day (haven’t read too many poems using teabags – ha,ha).

  3. the place reminds me of festivals we have here. having a cool time at a bright hot summer music fest while adverse fate swells with some future unseen circumstance… and then on the 6 oclock news. very moving gabrielle. about fragile mortal beings. and i am so sorry, the photo has a goodnatured presence somehow, a beautiful tribute and statement.

    1. That’s right slpmartin – I think of it often that the news is dishing out some horrible stuff, while we casually eat our dinners and it mainly doesn’t sink in (but that is how it must be or we would be overwhelmed with the reality of it all).

    1. Thanks Ben 🙂 I watched a show the other night about the Mexican catholic festival of the dead, where they really celebrate the dead and welcome their souls back for a day, each year (it’s also related to the catholic ‘All Saints/Souls Day’). Such a great show and a fantastic way to deal with grief. They cook food for the dead and have a big party, everyone dresses in skeleton costumes – the interviewer was very moved by it all, even though he didn’t believe in any of it (but he considered it a great tribute to loved ones).

    1. Thanks Dyhan. Mark wasn’t the only one, unfortunately quite a number of my friends died too early. We had a few risk takers in the groups. But it is what started me writing poetry.

  4. “when outsiders pick us off one by one…”
    At that point I had an image of mates marrying, each picked off by partners, no longer belonging to us but to an outsider who broke our ‘stand by me’ bond until all were gone! But we don’t get to choose real life endings do we!

    ‘sulk off into the distance’ wonderful line, so well expresses the vague feeling of loss at each regrouping of survivors!

    1. That’s the image I had in mine mainly – we were always suspicious of new boyfriends/girlfriends because we knew what it could mean (and of course we were right), we didn’t expect the other forms of removal. Thanks Stafford.

  5. Like Paul, I went to many Spring Hill Fairs… one of my fondest ever memories is watching a (very stoned) Steve Kilbey & Grant Mclennan play a set of Jack Frost, Church & Go-Betweens songs… Brisbane seemed a little slower back then, more innocent. Hope the sun is shining on you Gabe,

    1. That would have been awesome Graham. It was slower back then and less traffic. In Brisbane last week (Mum is well by the way) I got confused and ended up in the Clem 7 tunnel – aargh – felt a bit claustrophobic and disoriented.

  6. It wasn’t clear to me whether this was a recent loss, or a remembrance of a dear friend lost a while ago. But it hardly matters (to the reader, that is). The sentiments were beautifully conveyed and the shock in the final four lines brilliantly delivered. In words rendered trite by overuse: “I am sorry for your loss”. But your poem will forever be there to evoke a small kernel of that life force. And isn’t that what poetry is all about?

  7. You are the one who was meant to do this for and about Mark and after reading this it is clear why. Your heart is a bright and shining thing Gabrielle. 🙂

  8. There’s something impossible about expressing loss. Your poem is a lovely tribute and I found it especially effective that one doesn’t learn immediately that he died. Life comes before death, and that order even on the small scale, helps.

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