In Which The Tory Election Strategy Is Found On The Back Of A Fag Packet Stained With Lynton Crosby’s Tears.

Make her the Vera Lynn of kitten heels
with the flag framed in soft focus
while cameras ignore or airbrush out
the casualties and corpses.
Bang on about strength and stability
and keep your fingers crossed
if the voters see through this charade,
we’ve lost.
© Steve Pottinger. 2 May 2017

any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely co-incidental.

we’ve boosted a car and got the motel room
frozen pizzas, hair dye, wigs, and thrift shop clothes
borrowed a wheelchair
and photoshopped a fake ID
to turn you into someone no-one knows
we’ve got friends across the country
in condos, backwoods, cities, and on farms
in schools and universities and ghettos
who’ll shelter you and keep you safe from harm
we’re ready
and when the Secret Service agent
who has a mother, sister, daughter, lover
who believes in the dream
who knows this will mean a desk job
in a back office in a one-horse town
with no horse for the rest of his days
and who doesn’t care
when he looks the wrong way at the right moment
and you exit stage left pursued by no-one
slip into the back seat of a car that turns right
at the lights and is gone
then, Melania, then and only then
as you sit on a motel bed
munching on a slice of margherita
waiting for the dye to take
designer clothes stuffed in a bin-bag by the door
wearing someone else’s cast-offs
that pinch and sag, are nowhere near your size,
and the smile your mama taught you
creeps back to light your eyes
then, your life begins.
and when the fat toad in his gilded rage
screams his fury in one hundred and forty
characters of CAP LOCK
and proclamations of revenge
then we will tweet him in our thousands
#ShesNotYours
#ShesNotYours
#ShesNotYours
© Steve Pottinger. 27 January 2017

keytown xmas

is Kevin dressed as Superman
sparking one up at the front door
is frost sparkling in the scrapyard
on the serried battlements of cars
is cheap plastic toys in poundland paper
value vodka and a singalong
is Sharon smiling through the bruises
wondering how it all went wrong
is the factories with shattered windows
machines now inches deep in rust
is the beer cans piled inside the graveyard
full to empty, dust to dust
is piebald ponies on the waste ground
pigeons circling the church where the travellers sing
is christ and salvation and battered transits
and the silent night of no trains running
is kids in the skate park and the smell of ganja
the sparrowhawk that no-one sees
is the dog fox growing fat on take-outs
sunlight tumbling through the trees
is Jamal skinning up in his Fiesta
bass the soundtrack to his haze
is sirens always wailing somewhere
zero-hours and hi-vis days
is hope bought on the never-never
the TV on for background din
sprouts and spuds and jokes and crackers
laughter loud and full and high and thin
is the alarm that rings and rings unanswered
is tinsel blowing down the road
is waiting till the pub is open
money missing money owed
is dreaming of the winning scratchcard
the lottery of luck come good
you tell yourself you couldn’t leave
but deep inside you know you would
is the place you’re born its roots inside you
friends and kith and kin and more
is walking the dog by the last of the pit bonk
loving and hating and loving it all
is the history of coal and steel
of locks and keys and graft and skill
the thundering ghost of dropping forges
for better for worse for good or ill
is the prayers you make but can’t believe in
a drunken carol tattered pride
is too much of one not enough of the other
always the bridesmaid and never the bride
and it’s Kevin dressed as Superman
carrying too many pounds to get away with lycra
but not letting that stop him
and he’s sparking one up
squinting into the sunshine
sucking the life out of it
taking a deep breath
squaring his shoulders
stepping back inside
and leaving trouble for tomorrow
like super-heroes do.
© Steve Pottinger. 24 December 2016


Thoughts on the rise to power of president-elect Donald J Hairstyle.

The marketing can be top notch
the PR team outstanding
they can say this is a big job
they’ve been proud to have a hand in
but their puffing and their posturing
is pathetically absurd
because everyone knows
you can’t polish a turd.
You can give it a makeover
which will dazzle and bewitch
it can be wearing a vajazzle
and have tassles on its tits
it can be hanging off the arm
of some celeb from the telly
but it’s a disturbing shade of tangerine
repellent, foul, and smelly
and the media go ga-ga
and repeat its every word
while we shake our heads and mutter
about polish, prats, and turds.
It can insist that it’s incredible
The best. It really is.
But when it claims that you’ll be great again
it’s selling you some shiz.
Engage your other senses
see and smell above the chatter
and recognise behind the bling
the stink of faecal matter
I know experts aren’t in vogue right now
but they’ve all of them concurred
that you’re wasting time and effort
when you’re polishing a turd.
Drop the kids off. Do the school run.
Give the turtle’s head release.
You’ve been touching cloth for far too long
you’ve earned a little peace.
Relax, exhale, expel, and void
and flush. You’re feeling lighter
refreshed, relieved, reminded
that the future’s looking brighter
when you aren’t buying into bullshit
like a fantasy Lolita
turning tricks for some fat old bloke
who’s excited by excreta
while you tell yourself he loves you
but in case you hadn’t heard
it’ll end in tears, and they’ll be yours
if you’re polishing a turd.
Yes, you tell yourself he loves you
but in case you hadn’t heard
it’ll end in tears, and they’ll be yours
when you’re polishing a turd.
© Steve Pottinger. November 2016


stabberjocky

(with apologies to Lewis Carroll)
‘Twas Brexit, and the slithy Gove
did frottercrutch in dwarfish glee;
he snicker-snacked the Camerove,
Machiavelliadastardly.
Beware the stabberjock, my son!
The empty eyes, the robo-glint!
who fellobrates the Murdocrone
the Ruperturtle übergimp!
He pallerised the BoJo cloon
they chummed upon their sunderbus
emblazoned it with fibberoons
and bambulluntruthoozled us.
The tousled toddler slaughterchopped,
his destiplans an Eton mess,
the slubbergubby gollumgove
a shadowhand of viciousness.
O gipperchund! And vomberblast!
The skitterchit of slick and sly
the snicker-snack of backstablades
the scrabblage to ruthlerise.
The bubberchut of charismissed
the turdletruck of banalbore
is patterfrondled on the head
a pawn upon a checkerboard.
Beware the stabberjock, my son!
The empty eyes, the robo-glint
who fellobrates the Murdocrone
the Ruperturtle übergimp.
© Steve Pottinger. 3 July 2016


a word in your shell-like, guv

The BBC, it’s sad but true,
aren’t covering this story
about the general election
and the slush fund for the tories,
how they targeted constituencies
they feared they wouldn’t win
in twenty-four seats they splashed the cash
to ensure their chap got in.
If you haven’t heard about this fraud
this electoral roll of shame
let a poet step in where the Beeb fears to tread
and make sure you’re aware of their names…
There was creative accounting in Cornwall
in Dudley they diddled and dodged
in Pudsey and Plymouth they played fast and loose
in Lincoln a lawsuit will surely be lodged
in Sherwood they rode, like the sheriff,
through the rules they’re supposed to obey
and in Sutton & Cheam their dishonest scheme
bought success, as it did in Torbay.
Cheltenham, Chippenham, Yeovil, and Wells
were all targets for tory largesse
we all know there was cheatin’ went on in Nuneaton
Northampton was nobbled, no less
than Morecambe, and Bury, and Erewash,
South Thanet, and then Weaver Vale.
The Cannock Chase costs were a swift sleight of hand
in Broxtowe, the budget was clearly for sale
a scam pulled down in Amber Valley
helped make sure the result went their way
democracy died down in Thornbury
don’t let anyone tell you that crime doesn’t pay.
© Steve Pottinger. May 5, 2016


IDS

Iain Duncan Wots-his-face
has now resigned and left a space
in Cabinet. The explanation?
Tory party machinations.
But then again, perhaps the bloke
just had enough of pigs, and coke.
© Steve Pottinger. 19th March 2016


england

Straight off the bat let me say
I was never a fan
I mean don’t speak ill and all that
but if we’re clearing the decks
wiping the slate clean
getting it all out in the open
then….
you were bloody hard work, England,
not easy to live with, let alone love.
You see, you kept making me and my friends
sit cricket tests I was never going to pass
took our taxes and our labour
but still left us feeling second class
because our roots stretched back
to other cultures, other shores
and other teams made our guilty, secret hearts
beat a little faster, race a little more.
Even now, it’s like you can’t help yourself
some scoundrel starts waving the flag
critical thought goes out of the window
and next thing you know
you’ve tanked yourself up on bigotry and lager
giving it ‘2 world wars and 1 world cup’
like you fired the winning shot yourself.
I mean really, England? Really?
I’ve seen you running for the bus
in the mornings, and it’s not pretty.
You’re a heart attack waiting to happen
hypertension, clogged arteries, dodgy knees
it’s all history, for fuck’s sake
do yourself a favour, let it go.
And you were the chink of fine china
the tyranny of manners and the old school tie
tut-tut-tutting about the enemy within
turning a blind eye while someone
did your dirty work
gratuitous truncheons
battles in beanfields
cover-ups and never-challenged lies.
So, like I say, it wasn’t the best of starts.
I had to leave to learn to love you
get far enough away to see both sides
of the coins in your pocketful of shrapnel
find the fist that read ‘love’
not just the one that promised ‘hate’.
And out there,
on the other side of the world
I found I missed you
missed your dirt under my fingernails
hankered after your way with words
your dirty laugh
your seaside postcard humour
and your beautiful mongrel language.
Every time you open your mouth
history tumbles from your lips
in dialect and accent
a pulsing archaeology of trade
invasion, conquest, immigration
the ebb and flow of populations
making room making homes
and getting assimilated
learning there’s precious few of life’s problems
not cut down to size with another cup of tea
and a couple of biccies.
You’re not dead.
You’re just evolving
re-inventing yourself
getting your nails done
putting on your glad rags
for a night out on the town
and I will find you
on top of the moors
quoting Benny Hill and Shakespeare
feasting on samosas and flagons of cider
slapping the taut drum of your stomach
where it spills over the waistband of your trousers
– all paid for, kid!
proud as punch
Falstaff, as I live and breathe
paddling in the shallows
beyond the deckchairs and the donkeys
giggling in Gujerati
the hem of your sari trailing in the cold North Sea
salty and wet while your wide-eyed kids
play shoot-em-up in the arcades
mither you for fish and chips
support City and United
and ride the bus home
with their heads full of dreams
knowing love triumphs
over cricket tests
and their hearts beat
proud and strong.
© Steve Pottinger. 28 January 2016


how to get everything you ever wanted

1.
Invent a war.
Something bloody and fratricidal.
Lose an uncle to barrel bombs
a brother to secret police.
2.
Three years in, flee.
Pack only what you can carry:
clothes, smartphone, children, cash.
Slip away at night, in silence.
3.
Take your leave of the flat, bakery, office,
rubble-filled streets where the kids once ran
shell of the cafe where old men
drank qahwa, played sheesh beesh.
4.
Cross a border to camps, to life on hold.
Everyone knows someone who’s gone
before them, dreaming of better.
Here there is only the absence of war.
It’s not enough.
5.
Moving is what you do.
Railway tracks, verges, fields.
Rest in olive groves, wake in orchards.
One foot in front of the other
over and over and over.
6.
The world is cold-eyed border guards
sandwiches and blankets.
You never know what is coming.
One day, open hand. Another, fist.
7.
You learn the words you need
in a new language.
Arbeit. Ja. Nein. Thank you. Please.
The smile that shows you know to be grateful.
8.
Evenings you sit at the kitchen table
talk to friends in cities far away
about places that have gone
about old men who drank qahwa
played sheesh beesh.
9.
At night you dream of rubble, and of home.
© Steve Pottinger 20 Dec 2015


this will be a re-run

it’ll be the comfort of the saturday afternoons of your childhood
sat in front of the TV with bread and dripping
watching John Wayne set the world to rights with a gun
it’ll be Kenneth More on tin legs reaching for the sky
with a re-mix of stirring music Vaughan Williams would kill for
it’ll be a tearjerker in the final reel
where you know the hero’s going to die
but his girl will remember him forever
it’ll be you me us being the good guy
rescuing the damsel
putting the planet back on its axis
making sure all is well with the world
popping down the pub for a half a bitter
and a sing song
saving blighty for another day
it’ll be black and white
it’ll be clarity
it’ll be mom dad fido eternal happiness
everything you could want for a shilling
cowboys and indians
bang bang you’re dead
but just till tea-time
beans on toast and final score
the magic of the FA Cup
granddad checking the pools
shaken and not stirred
it’ll be bombing Syria by the end of the week
it’ll be nothing like Libya
it’ll be don’t mention Afghanistan
it’ll be Iraq again
like we did last summer
it’ll be fiction
it’ll be make-believe
it’ll be tears before bedtime
it’ll be bombs not strategy
it’ll be innocent victims
it’ll be refugees
it’ll be bombs bombs bombs
not strategy
it’ll be black and white
it’ll be clarity
it’ll be mom dad fido eternal happiness
it’ll be Kenneth More weeping
into his pillow
this will be a re-run.
© Steve Pottinger 01 Dec 2015


comrade osborne and the little red book

The chancellor’s autumn statement
and McDonnell’s quoting Mao!
It’s a joke. A jest. A jolly jape
to illustrate just how
George is selling off our assets
to global profiteers
and the Chinese state is buying up
the things which we hold dear
while the media says… nothing
a conspiracy of silence
on illiterate economics
and structural state violence
against the vulnerable and needy
the sick, the weak, the poor
while under Georgie-boy’s agenda
those who have will get still more.
So, a quote from Mao. It’s theatre.
Or is it thoughtcrime? Watch the spin
from a free press owned by powerful men
who say the sky is falling in
and the world is surely ending
and the only thing it took
was to point at a pantomime villain
and quote from Chairman Mao’s little red book.
Because the Mail has wet its knickers
The Sun’s gone apoplectic
they see the thin end of a fat red wedge
of Marxist dialectic.
There’s communists in Westminster!
The left are going loony!
Corbyn causes cancer!
He’s a Trotskyist! A Moonie!
He hates you and your children!
He’s dangerous, and weird!
If Labour get their hands on power
they’ll make you all grow beards
and call your children Karl and Castro,
Leon, Che, and Vladimir,
while your hope dies in collectives
and your lives are lived in fear!
Hysteria and hyperbole
employed with one sole aim
to solidify the status quo
fix the rules, and rig the game
while the ground is sold beneath our feet
our future swept away
and airstrip one is put in hock
while capital makes hay.
And when your children ask who did this?
and when, and why, and how
remember the chancellor’s autumn statement
and McDonnell, quoting Mao.
© Steve Pottinger. 26 November 2015


21st c. enlightenment blues

Rattling through the low hills
in the darkness and the endless endless rain
the train is overcrowded
because the train is overcrowded
because the train is always overcrowded
and the conductor’s now a manager
a voice we never see
mumbling something through the tannoy
about weather and delays.
We used to have seats
now we stand
and this is progress.
Outside
the airwaves are full beyond bursting
with reports of death death death
of young men gorged on bitterness and bullets
who want a world in their own image
who take Kalashnikovs to café bars
and spew their hatred into headlines.
The numbers mount
twenty, forty, eighty
one hundred and twenty-nine
and journalists run to keep up
as our disbelief stumbles beside them
barely able to count
deafened by the online chatter
lost in the conviction of our powerlessness
to do anything that matters
while the 24-hour news channels
send you numb with repetition
driving home the horror
till you scream at them to
stop
stop
stop
stop
stop
before you too view your neighbour
through the sour veil of suspicion.
You know we trust people less now
than we did twenty years ago
and this is progress.
We’ve more than enough hate to go round.
Anyone has access to a keypad and a cause
and it’s easy to believe that our future
is Paris, Beirut, Baghdad, Nairobi
that hope is so last century
now it’s all about circling the wagons
and building the walls
higher higher higher
like the prophets of doom
have always wanted.
They see the end of days in everything.
Here, barbarians at the gate;
there, immorality, apostates.
They go to war over oil
or the meaning of texts
written by desert tribes
trying to make sense of the senseless
forgetting we’re idiot monkeys
running over a small blue planet
reliant on rain and the heat of a star
for pretty much everything.
Arguing about skin colour
and nationality like it matters
filling cyberspace with ignorance
and white-hot indignation
judging a child’s laughter
a mother’s hope
or a girl’s dreams
by which side of a border they live on
or the god they follow
while the rest of us scramble
to put food on the table
look after the ones we love
wait for the rain to ease off
or the rains to come
and pray our kids will have a better life
that they’ll see progress.
And the voice of the train manager
announces our arrival at a station
mutters an apology for overcrowding
due to breakdowns, floods,
inadequate investment, cancellations
asks us to take all our belongings with us
to take care when disembarking
thanks us for choosing to travel with etc.
He sounds tired and beaten-down
but when he wishes us a safe onward journey
and says he hopes he sees us soon
this evening, for once
I decide to believe him.
© Steve Pottinger. 16 Nov 2015


why you are #beachready

because you deserve to feel
the sun on your skin
hot sand between your toes
to slough off the workday drudge
and free your smile
because it will be fun
because ice-cream melts fast
and tastes good
because it’s your laugh that matters
because no-one ever died thinking
the best thing they did
was spend three years on a diet
so they could wear a bikini
for half an hour on the one decent day
we have in a british summer
then spend that thirty minutes
holding their stomach in
afraid to breathe
Really. Do the maths.
because you’re beautiful. Right now.
because when did you last build a sandcastle?
because you will return home
sun-kissed and contented
because you can be certain that
as soon as a cheap hustler
in a bad suit
tries to sell you something
then you don’t need it
because there are small fish
scurrying crabs and anemones
in the rock pools
and they don’t give a toss
about your curves
your weight
your BMI
because I am a lot like an anemone
most men are
because at night you can go
skinny-dipping
and it will feel like liberation
because it’s not the office
because life is too short to be miserable
because you can gaze out
to where the sea meets the sky
off into the infinite blue
and out there
light years away
on a planet we haven’t even found yet
a creature is dipping all seventeen
of its three-foot toes in the water
and gazing back at you
because well it might be, right?
because don’t ever let someone tell you
what you can and cannot do
because your dreams are worth more than gold
and you are your dreams and more
because the best moments in your life
can be stitched with seaweed, shells
the sound of surf
the memory of laughter
sunlight shimmering on water
because I may not know much
but I’m sure of this
because you’re beautiful right now
and you’re ready
and you want to
go.
© Steve Pottinger


every night, the same dream

the stink of diesel and of fear which
everyone’s pretending is not here
because if they do not name it, it will not be real
but in the hot bodies of the strangers pressed
around her she can feel
the tension of a panic only held at bay
like sea-sickness, with iron will, good fortune,
muttered prayers
inshallahinjesusnameinshallahinjesusname
they rise and fall, jaws clench and clench again
she is one of hundreds, women, children, men
crowded together, huddled, packed tight in
each has just room to breathe
a space no bigger than a coffin
and something is wrong she knows it
feels the rising terror
with each lurch of the trawler
she knows this was an error, a mistake
a wrong turning that was made
when all other roads were blocked
and the price that must be paid
won’t be measured out in crumpled dollar notes
but in the treasure of her hope
and then the boat
tips a little someone screams
water swills around her ankles
there is a scramble
for the hatch and those who can
kick and punch and fight their way out
but she is going down
blowing bubbles of her dreams
and even as she drowns
she tells herself
she paid her money someone must save her
she paid her money someone must save her
she paid her money someone must save
and Katie wakes in bed
salt water on her tongue
the smell of death around her
wonders what she has done wrong.
© Steve Pottinger 19 April 2015


let me warn you…

                             …about this poem
this poem is loaded, minted, filthy rich
money squirrelled under offshore mattresses
coming out of its accountants’ ears
Croesus in a sharp suit and a car
no surprise
if it’s a touch full of itself
a wee bit cocky
got arrogance to burn
best thing since sliced bread
since before sliced bread
since sliced bread was a twinkle
in its daddy’s etc.
and it’s full of it
the same old schtick
the ‘man of the people’ bullshit
just a regular kind of guy
kind of a poem
that’s what it’d have you
believe
it’s not a poem like other poems
so make some allowances
cut it some slack
and when one day
this poem hits someone
professors of english literature
will line up round the block
to justify it
explain the role of the right hook
in 21st c verse
and the bardic tradition
while the poem smiles
a neat white smile
of sharp perfect teeth
cold eyes and calculation
and some mother’s son
lies bleeding and forgotten
on the floor
yeah
let me warn you about this poem.

©Steve Pottinger. 30 March 2015

the ostentatious breast-feeder

Drinking in my local
last dullday afternoon
soft drizzle outside
nothing much happening
usual 21st c. sense of ennui
when the door burst open
and a woman danced in
spinning wheeling pirouetting
across the floor
up on to a table
scattering drinkers before her
eyes flashing devilment and untamed fire
the shimmer of her dress was scarlet,
silver, purple, maybe green –
when we talked about it later
none of us agreed –
and as the trumpets kicked in
with something latin
I paused, mouth open
pint in hand.
Since when had we had a brass section
in the toilets?
What did this mean?
Then I saw the infant at her breast
and I understood
this was what Nigel
had been rambling on about
the old soak.
Ostentatious? By god, he wasn’t joking.
As the music swelled to a crescendo
she sprang onto the bar
stamping her heels the length of it,
one arm held aloft, defiant
head thrown back in a piercing banshee scream
a howling wail that lifted the hair on my neck
and as the child suckled, contented,
and fireworks burst along the line of optics
and confetti cannon spewed
a blizzard of paper
into the room
I was on my feet
with all the others
whooping cheering punching the air
Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! HELL YEAH!!
That night
I dreamed of gurgling babies
fat as Buddhas
and woke smiling.

 

© Steve Pottinger


let us pretend

Let us pretend
that we haven’t been this way before
too recently and too often
that this is the way forward
that it is the road to the peace
which eluded you when you sent
planes and tanks and men
into Lebanon, Ramallah, Jenin,
Gaza, Gaza, Gaza.
Let us pretend
that this time will be different
that this time will be worth it
that you can tot up the lives
of dead children and collateral families
and declare victory
that security can be measured
in flattened houses
burials and tears.
And let us pretend
that when you build settlements and walls
and criss-cross the country with roads
and stitch it with checkpoints
and cut down olive groves
and throw people from their homes
let us pretend then
that the only terrorism in town
is the anger of young men
who build rockets they can barely aim
who have no hope,
who see their homeland dismembered before them.
Let us pretend
that this tit for tat
this tit for bloody tat
is the only way
is the legacy you will leave
your children and your children’s children
their children and their children’s children
Let us pretend there can be no hope
that milk and honey cannot be shared
that Israeli and Palestinian can never
live together, laugh together, love together
two flags flutter together
let us press our face to the cross-hairs
and close our eyes
and stop up our ears
and still our beating hearts
and let us pretend, Bibi,
let us pretend.

© Steve Pottinger 14 July 2014

This poem has been published in the anthology ‘for the children of Gaza’ by Onslaught Press

 

poem for the world cup winners

Deutschland, Deutschland
über the moon
you won’t be sober
any time soon.

© Steve Pottinger 13 July 2014

Lampedusa

This is where they come from:
villages eaten up by sand
river beds run dry
lands of red earth stained with blood
where there are mobs, bombs, bullets,
crops that fail.
This is who they are:
the young, the desperate, the brave,
fathers with daughters, motherless sons,
whose sin was to be born poor
worship the wrong body
bow before the wrong god.
This is what they carry:
hope, crumpled dollars, memories of home,
slips of paper with the number of a phone
for an uncle in Milan, a cousin
swallowed in the cities of the north
who has work, who sends back pittances
and letters rare as desert rain.
This is where they place their fate:
in the hands of men with guns and easy smiles
who speak only the cold esperanto of money
who wait, patient and sure
promises tumbling from the wet caves of their mouths
smooth and soft as water.
This is where they lie:
washed up in their scores
on the shores of Lampedusa
their souls slipping the leash
back to Africa
their dreams and their names
known only to the sea.
© Steve Pottinger. 4th October 2013


£10 million for this?

Roses are red
Maggie was blue
now she is dead
they’re having a do.
They’re airbrushing history
re-writing the past
Big Ben’s falling silent
the flag’s at half mast.
In a time of austerity
they’ve money to burn
for the pomp of her funeral
but the lesson we’ve learned
is they secretly know
she’s not loved by the nation
her grave wouldn’t be safe
so they plumped for cremation.
Steve Pottinger. April 17 2013.

Spring

Outside, the hawthorn is in bloom
while here the TV spits into my room
faster than bullets, the same old news
that some far-flung corner of a foreign field
is now sown with blood, with shrapnel, and with loss
that it’s worth the sacrifice
worth the cost
and outside, the hawthorn is in bloom.
Outside, the hawthorn is in bloom
the willow glows with catkin gold
and the lions, led by media-savvy donkeys
are digging in for the long haul
for the big push. For you, for me, for freedom.
For whatever the story is this week.
Some box-fresh spin
wrought out of Kevlar, rescued from dust
one that makes it worth the sacrifice
worth the cost
and outside, the hawthorn is in bloom
Outside, the hawthorn is in bloom
the willow glows with catkin gold
the dog-rose has burst into life
and the embedded reporter, mole-blind,
assures us that morale is high
there was turkey for Xmas
there’ll be bunting for the Jubilee
everyone’s here to do a job.
He signs off from the satellite phone
with a soundbite about sacrifice
a nod towards loss
and outside, the hawthorn is in bloom
Outside, the hawthorn is in bloom
the willow glows with catkin gold
the dog-rose has burst into life
with the lengthening days the ash buds open
and the minister, caught between engagements,
pauses before the cameras
to say we will always remember them
forgets their names before he sinks into his limousine
but made sure to say
something appropriate about sacrifice
duly solemn about loss
and outside, the hawthorn is in bloom.
Outside, the hawthorn is in bloom
the willow glows with catkin gold
the dog-rose has burst into life
with the lengthening days the ash buds open
and we wait.
We wait for rains that don’t yet come
while families, their world forever blasted out of true,
wish for ruined ghosts to come marching through
the door, all present and correct
large as life and home for tea
to haul them out of this wasteland of grief
where there are no words
where no words will do.
Sacrifice? doesn’t begin to cover it.
And the rains?
They’ll come, or they won’t come.
Spring will blossom into summer
the ash spread its leaves toward the sun
and pain shrinks to a small constant
stone lodged tight by the heart
while we watch the willow green
and then the brave leaves tumble.
‘Til spring comes round again
and, turning from the TV burble,
I look out of my window and see
outside, the soft white flowers
of the hawthorn coming
once more into bloom.
© Steve Pottinger

Tumbling stumbling pachyderm blues.

There will be
the slow graceful parabola of ivory through air
notes in unexpected combinations
a rolling grey blur the size of a house
wood splintering in a ragged fusillade
shit steaming in fresh pollocks on the ceiling.
Because you tell me
this harmony, this perfection cannot last.
The rot will set in, our music curdle.
Our dancing love? An elephant
falling downstairs with a piano.
Maybe.
But it will be no ordinary elephant, my love
and it will be a Steinway grand
on stairs of polished marble
waist-deep in jungle flowers.
It will be beautiful, beautiful, beautiful,
a cacophony of movement, a riot of sound.
We shall stand amid petals and carnage
kissing the blood from each other
picking out splinters
whispering how good it is to be alive.
Then, laughing, we help the elephant upstairs.
I give you the money for another piano.
© Steve Pottinger

Dry land drowning

The seals haul themselves ashore
to pup on the rock flats every year,
and you arrive,
frayed and torn as sea-tossed rope,
cloaked in the stink of the city.
You breathe the air deep as before,
say how good it is to be
somewhere there’s space
while your eyes burn with fever
and your talk of pubs and clubs and chemicals
lights up your face
with homesick and longing.
And you will speak – again –
of poverty and injustice
with eloquence and anger
and only the silence of what remains unsaid
hints at your increasing fear,
while in the evening,
gathered round the burning peat,
rain lashing the windows,
you will entertain with anecdotes and tales
that leave us helpless with laughter.
A talisman, more than ever now,
to beg us not to forget you.
And you will leave as suddenly as you came.
An eager moth yearning for
the city’s cold and glittering flame.
And I will sit and ponder how lonely you have grown,
how brittle,
and the seal pups wait on a tide
to sweep them back to the sea.
© Steve Pottinger

nomad

(from Kissing It All)
I am sleeping in the van
on a remote headland in Orkney.
The headland is at the end of a farm-track
which winds its way here from where
the single-track road ends.
The single-track road has, in turn,
led on from another single-track road,
and at the other end of that single-track road
is the middle of nowhere.
I sit in the van, which rocks gently
from the constant buffeting of the wind
sweeping in from the great northern seas.
I gaze out at the impossible beauty
of a midsummer sunset,
at a panorama of sea,
other islands, islets,
the immensity of an ever-changing sky.
All I can hear
is the call of seabirds,
the breaking of waves on the rocks below.
From here, the city I live in seems
some diseased imagining,
born of some other nightmare world.
Half a mile away there is a house.
One day I stop to talk with the woman
who lives there with her dogs.
She is elderly and South African.
But how did you get here? I ask,
gesturing at the farm-track,
the twisting single-track roads,
the half a planet that stretches back
beyond them to her homeland.
Oh, she says, as if it explains everything,
I came via Barnsley.
 
 
© Steve Pottinger

7 Responses

  1. Jonathan Baggott

    Hi Steve,
    Just read your letter to Caffe Nero on the BBC website. I too stopped using them when I found out about their tax arrangments last year, despite loving their coffee!! Wish I’d thought to go public as you have done (but I don’t use Twitter or Facebook!).
    Take it you’ve read ‘The Spirit Level’, the excellent book by two epidemiologists which shows just how corrosive widening social equality is for all of us…..
    Anyway, very well done; all power to you, and let’s hope more people will think carefully about where they choose to spend their money.

    May 6, 2014 at 6:34 pm

  2. Sylvia Sellers

    Steve, just to say I’ve read all your poems in both books with great pleasure, all the more enjoyable because I can hear your great delivery as I read. I’ve re-read ‘The girl next door’ a few times; it’s wonderful because I can relate to it totally. I think that day in the bathroom she must have been in my ‘Neon Pink Mood’. I wish I could fathom how one day I wake up,and I am The Girl Next Door, yet the next day, ‘the sun has set, the moon has risen and I can do nothing’. Thank god the sun keeps rising!

    Sylvia Sellers

    June 2, 2015 at 5:06 pm

    • spot

      Thanks, Sylvia! Really pleased you enjoyed the poems. It was a pleasure to share a stage with you, and I hope your Neon Pink Moods come thick and fast from here on!

      June 5, 2015 at 4:32 pm

  3. Love the work, and the website!

    April 2, 2016 at 2:30 pm

    • spot

      Thanks, John!

      April 4, 2016 at 8:32 pm

  4. Suzanne Bosworth

    By the happiest of chances I discovered Stabberjocky today and followed your name to your website here. What a joy! Your poetry and prose reel me in. Just listened to the Stabberjocky mix, and to Love and Coats. Wonderful stuff.

    May we see you in Scotland next year? Your schedule looks busy for the rest of 2016.

    Have a great weekend. :-)

    July 9, 2016 at 3:05 pm

    • spot

      Hi Suzanne,
      thanks for commenting! I’m really glad you enjoyed the Stabberjocky mix (credit due to Swoomptheeng for the music!) and Love and Coats. I’d love to come and do a gig or two in Scotland – it’s a matter of setting it up! If you know anywhere, drop me a line. I’m up for it! :-)

      July 10, 2016 at 6:48 pm

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