Steve Pottinger

Steve Pottinger

Steve Pottinger is a performance poet who's passionate about the power of poetry to create connections between people. He believes in making an audience laugh and think and decide that poetry isn't so bad after all.

should an agency cleaner in the basement
Sunday, 24 December 2023 08:58

should an agency cleaner in the basement

Published in Poetry

should an agency cleaner in the basement

of the British Museum find
in some forgotten room
an old earthenware lamp

and choose to rub it,
rub it with the sleeve of
her overall, gentle

and curious, knowing this
is not strictly within the T&Cs
of her employment, but

should she do that
and lo! a djinn appear,
stir itself to life and ask

Yeah? What?
and should she, thinking of
her neighbours in the flat

next door, the sobbing heard
through a shared and common wall
whisper Gaza. Peace

and should the djinn nod,
fade, vanish, the lamp
a dusty artefact and

she alone with the dead
hours of the night, miles
to tread before she sleeps

should she finish her shift,
wait, half-awake, for the 6am
bus that will carry her home

to newsrooms, airwaves, screens
in meltdown, jabbering the endless
Who? How? Why?

should a prime minister’s son
cower in hospital scrubs
in the ruins of Al-Shifa

a diplomat and her family
flee down Salah-al-Din Road,
searching for safety and water

should, in Khan Younis,
a pundit with a white flag
stumble into the sights

of a sniper, the president’s
mistress beneath the rubble
of a building, buried alive

should all this come to pass
there will be ceasefire before
the cleaner turns the key

in her front door,
trucks of aid in their hundreds
before the sun has set.

Tomorrow, we will begin to rebuild.

Wednesday, 06 December 2023 10:30


Published in Poetry


by Steve Pottinger, with image above by Alix Emery

To the apologists for genocide who choose
to walk in no-one’s shoes but their own

Imagine all this happening
to your children. And to your
neighbour’s children. And to
the children who play football
up and down your street, in the
dust and the heat and the rain,
whose joy and whose laughter
has been a gift all your days.

Imagine all this happening
to the mother of your children.
To the mother of your neighbour’s
children. To the mother of the
quiet boy three doors down
who dreams of becoming
a journalist, or businessman.
To a whole street of mothers.

Imagine all this happening
to the mechanic in the next block
with the missing tooth, a ready smile,
who can make any motor purr.
To the musician whose name
you never learn. To the couple
whose shop opens late into evening,
who sell the best mangoes.

Imagine your home, gone.
The dress shop where
your sister worked, flattened.
The hospital that looked after
your father, nothing but rubble.
Imagine all these futures,
all these possibilities

Imagine being told
by those of us who believe
our children will always be safe
will always be blessed
will always be healthy,
imagine being told
that this is complicated,
that you have brought this on yourself,
that we are content you shall feast
on concrete, on grief, and on death.

Imagine us telling you
that when you cradle the
broken body of your child
you are showing us a doll.
She was only ever a doll.

Imagine that.

Slip on those bloodied shoes.

Monday, 01 June 2020 07:56


Published in Poetry


by Steve Pottinger

for george

under a darkening sky
we sit round a log fire
out there cities are burning
the planet is burning and

i can’t breathe

out there people are dying
in hospitals in care homes
alone in bedsits with the knee
of a cop pressed into their neck and

i can’t breathe

out there pepper spray nightstick
rubber bullet rage
the same wrongs the old injustice
complicity complacency and

i can’t breathe

in the darkness we search
for each other for hope
for the glimmerings of dawn
for words but what words are there
we haven’t used before?

listen     fucking listen

i can’t breathe
i can’t breathe
i can’t breathe

The Glass Collector
Friday, 03 August 2018 10:12

The Glass Collector

Published in Poetry

Glass collector

by Steve Pottinger

Let us sing of the mouse-quiet collector
of glasses, clearer of plates, wiper of tables,
he who returns sauce bottles to their
allotted place on the worktop
he who takes no space at all
asks no space at all
who is seventeen
who will surprise you by butting into
your conversation about the Milky Way
with an extensive knowledge of cosmology
who will shrug and say he taught himself
because what else is there to do here
really, what else is there to do?
Let us sing of the mouse-quiet collector
of glasses, his slow orbit round tables,
of sauce bottles and wisdom
and no space at all.
Let us raise our glasses.
Let us sing.

This poem was one of the winners of the 2018 Bread and Roses Poetry Award, sponsored by Unite.