Steve Pottinger (British Working Class Poetry)

Steve Pottinger is a founding member of Wolverhampton arts collective Poets, Prattlers, and Pandemonialists. He’s an engaging and accomplished performer who has performed the length and breadth of the country. His work regularly appears online in CultureMatters and the Morning Star, and has won prizes or been commended in Bread & Roses, Prole, Poetry on Loan, Plough, Guernsey International, Arran, Verve, and Poets & Players poetry competitions. His sixth volume of poems, ‘thirty-one small acts of love and resistance’ published by Ignite Books, is out now.

 

 

The sun is shining at last, and

 

as I work outside the black guy

with half a mouth of teeth and

a rasta belt holding up his

raggy jeans stops to say this

is a beautiful house, that he stood

as a kid in the queue along the street

to collect his mom’s prescriptions,

asks after the old doctors, both of them,

shakes his head when I tell him they

are no longer with us, says the house

is beautiful, should stay beautiful,

stands tall in his workboots, waves

wearily at the world, tells me they’re

erasing our history, tearing down what

we were, destroying our town.

 

I tell him we will look after the house.
Hope that we can. On the car park

a crow pecks greedily at a stolen egg

the wood pigeons still haven’t realised is gone.

 

 

This photo with friends

 

must have been taken in summer.

We are where paths meet in a park

looking unbelievably young

– fresh faced, taut skin, bouncing –

and we are laughing as we take it in turns

to push each other round in a shopping

trolley we’ve found somewhere and

wouldn’t dream of thinking of returning.

Here is my first tattoo, here my anarcho-

crustie-mullet haircut, here the pair

of ragged combats I spent an afternoon

dyeing black and cut to just above the knee.

Here the flatness of my stomach, here

the espadrilles on my feet which will forever

smell of late lost nights and wet rope.

We are so young, all of us, so full of hope.

None of us have stumbled into dead-end

jobs or dead-end relationships, none of us

have woken to be told of a shadow on lung,

liver, bowel, the need to telescope plans

to the immediate, none of us are addicts yet,

and none of us have died. The sun

is shining. We have a shopping trolley.

I can hear us laughing even now.

 

 

December, outside Primark and

 

a man is shouting at the world

about Jesus, at Jesus about the world

his prepositions are interchangeable

one and the same

he has the pavement

to himself

 

no-one is listening

 

not Jesus

not the women who shuffle

themselves through town

in hope of bargains

not the character who thinks

he’s Elvis – and may be –

not the boy in a grey-tracksuit that’s seen

better days who  – just now –

will cartwheel twice down the road

for no good reason, stroll

nonchalantly on

not the emo/goth/nu-metal kids

long coats, big boots, black lipstick

 

who step round this prophet

as he stands outside Primark

arms outstretched

 

a madman

going eyeball to eyeball

with the cold knife east wind

warning of retribution, of winter

screaming at Jesus

or about him

 

it’s kind of hard to say. 


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