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.

Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfiffle Johnson
Tuesday, 27 April 2021 20:36

Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfiffle Johnson

Published in Poetry

In which the reader is invited to consider the A-Z of charges laid at the door of Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, setting them against the oft-repeated claim that he is doing his best. Please tick all answers that apply.

by Steve Pottinger

a) failing to act like a statesman
b) shamelessly feathering his nest
c) hopelessly mired in corruption

make a mark by those things he does best

d) indecisive, inept, and in trouble
e) evasive and shifty when pressed
f) locking down late and reluctant

at which is he doing his best?

g) lying as easy as breathing
h) a clown gone awry, a bad jest
i) mumbling something in Latin

would these be the things he does best?

j) putting borders where borders weren’t needed
k) watching Belfast slide into unrest
l) promising bridges, and tunnels, and airports

any clue as to which he does best?

m) writing huge lies on the side of a bus
n) selling you horseshit with zest
o) setting the bar low, and missing

which one of these is his best?

p) hopeless, and hapless, and heartless
q) a caricature, badly dressed
r) telling lie after lie after untruth

but remember, he’s doing his best

s) spaffing money up walls without counting the cost
t) sending forty-five billion pounds west
u) for a track and trace system that doesn’t

tell me now, how he’s doing his best

v) sidling away with a lover
w) pinning the flag to his chest
x) going absent whenever he’s needed

would these be the things he does best?

y) an end-of-pier Churchill, history as farce
z) the wrong answer, whatever the test

who’d rather bodies pile high in their thousands
while he lies that he’s doing his best.

Government press office, 26th Jan.
Wednesday, 27 January 2021 15:54

Government press office, 26th Jan.

Published in Poetry

Government press office, 26th Jan.

by Steve Pottinger

Here’s the way to spin it, boss.
Go out there, look glum,
say you take responsibility.
Don’t mention Dido, Dad, or Dom
for God’s sake. Steer clear, too,
of remembering the time you said
that a good outcome at the end of this
would be 20,000 dead.
That’s history. Tell the hacks
you’ve acted promptly at all times.
Forget trying to ape Churchill. No wise cracks
in Greek or Latin. Avoid care homes,
airports, late lockdowns, PPE.
Stick to the script. Talk of your sorrow.
Back to business as usual tomorrow.

Monday, 12 October 2020 12:57


Published in Poetry


by Steve Pottinger

Fatima’s working in cyber
she’s learned how to snoop and to hack
she’s talented, driven, and passionate
her revenge a cold feast, not a snack

Rishi’s bank account there on a spreadsheet
a few clicks of the keys, and… goodbye
Hancock’s now being sought on charges of fraud
Gove for intent to supply

Cummings just never existed
his records amended, deleted
Johnson pursued for child maintenance payments
left penniless, bankrupt, defeated

Rees-Mogg’s found his place in a workhouse
learning to do what he’s told
and a freighter crawls to St Helena
with Priti Patel in the hold

Yes, Fatima’s working in cyber
she’s smart, and she seizes her chances
at the end of the day, puts her laptop away
picks her shoes up
                               and smiles as she dances.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak found himself at the centre of attention last week after he appeared to suggest that people in the arts should 'retrain and find other jobs' in the wake of the pandemic.

Picture1 2

Image by Wheelermadeit

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 incredible excuses of Dominic Cummings
Tuesday, 26 May 2020 16:50

The incredible excuses of Dominic Cummings

Published in Poetry

The incredible excuses of Dominic Cummings

by Steve Pottinger

The dog ate my homework.
I did not have sexual relations with that band, ABBA.
The dog is called Fido, er… Tyson, er… Boris, no… Dog.
Your homework is in the cat.
My wife has always known me as Barnard.
I do not recognise that allegation.
I do not recognise that castle.
My dog has no name.
I’m everywhere and nowhere, baby.
Schrodinger’s bladder.
Fuel tanks the size of Mars.
A big boy did it and drove away.
I do not believe in homework.
I have no dog.

Wednesday, 06 May 2020 08:39


Published in Poetry


by Steve Pottinger

this morning
(one dressing-gown, two pockets, missing belt)

standing on the back doorstep
(cuppa, four sugars, first fag of the day)

she’s thinking about numbers
(two blackbirds, three wood pigeon, one wren)

dry mouth, heart pitter-pattering
(nineteen to the dozen)

the small ones she can handle,
(five fence panels, twelve flowerpots, nine slabs)

inches toward them steadily like sunlight crossing yards
(fourteen feet by twenty)

has marked off forty-seven lockdown dawns
(one by one by one)

on calendar in kitchen
(four pans, eight teaspoons, six mugs, two chipped)

has fingers and toes and wits enough for all her daily needs
(forty-nine years, three kids, dead-end jobs in hundreds)

but the big ones…
(fifteen men each digging sixteen holes)

shape-shifting tricksy things,
(in four days, no overtime, no union)

there to bewilder and confuse
(is it enough? what’s their take home pay?)

she claps for carers,
but can’t begin to get her head

round millions of pieces of missing PPE
(or thirty, forty, fifty thousand dead)

Friday, 13 December 2019 19:39


Published in Poetry


by Steve Pottinger

And so, it comes.
That winter morning when you wake
and find that you have had


You will give it up, you tell yourself,
retreat to the hills, the coast,
a cottage, a boat, a hut
some place out on the edge of it all.
Anywhere but here.
Anything but this.
You make plans to see out your days
walking beaches
scattering resting gulls
climbing mountains
to stare at far horizons.
You tell yourself
you will tend vegetables
grow old by the heat of a fire
lose yourself in books
and the view from a window.

Let the rich and the furious
have the world for themselves.
Much good may it do them.

There’s no shame, you tell yourself,
in howling your grief
into the roaring wind
at the stars, the moon,
anything that listens,
in finding solace in the bottle
or the bottom of a pint.
There’s no shame in walking
away from the fight,
throwing the towel in.

Let the rich and the furious
have the world for themselves.
Much good may it do them.

You tell yourself all of this and more.
You even believe it.

And then, one day, it comes.
That morning which has always
been written into your bones
woven into your future
that morning when you wake
and find that you have had


and you roll up your sleeves
and set to once more.

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.

Come in number 45, your time is up
Tuesday, 16 January 2018 10:52

Come in number 45, your time is up

Published in Poetry

In Which No. 45 Once Again Seeks Validation To Dispel
The Existential Fear That Gnaws At His Very Soul

 by Steve Pottinger

Thursday, 4am. The president wakes
Reaches, half-conscious, for his phone
Unwilling, untutored, unable to fight.
Must! Have! Attention! Now!
Punches the keypad over and over

In a desperate, infantile frenzy. Then:

America! The best! My big red button!

Falls back against the pillow, spent,
Useless, lost. Needing some kind of
Consolation, he mutters that he’s bigly
King, in his own mind at least. But
We see the emperor naked, unmanned,
Impeachment barrelling relentless down the line.
The end will be fast.

on that day
Wednesday, 29 November 2017 23:32

on that day

Published in Poetry

on that day

by Steve Pottinger

on that day
when we can barely hear ourselves think
for the pealing of church bells
the cheering of crowds
when the pubs are full 
and the street parties last 
till every bottle’s empty
and the sun is crawling over the rooftops
for the third time

when we wake on strangers’ sofas
on buses and in parks
face down on tables in the kitchen
of houses in towns at the other end of the country
holding the keys to someone else’s car
with no idea how we got there
praying to god for alka-seltzer
saying how we’ll never drink again

we’ll know we were there
wherever it was
whoever we were with
whatever it was we did
(or didn’t do)
on that day
that blessed day
when Donald Trump learned to love himself

the late-at-night-behind-closed-doors self-loving
in front of the laptop
not the live-streamed-from-a-Moscow-hotel-room self-loving
where the girls do that thing he loves
make the right encouraging noises
and never draw attention
to his tiny desperate hands

not that
cast that image from your mind

cast it further

on that day
that happy day
the stars and the planets find some new alignment
butterflies flutter in joyful formation 
over the last patch of rainforest
and the gods of all the major religions
pause from their eternal game of paintball
shrug their shoulders 
decide to toss us a bone

and so it is
on that glorious day
locked in the bathroom with his morning stink
Donnie pauses before the mirror
as he washes his hands
and sees for the first time ever

not the coward who dodged the draft
not the braggart who has no friends
not the mediocre businessman
propped up by daddy’s money
not the misogynist who lacks the balls
to make amends
not the climate-change denier
not the birther
not the racist
not the instinctive liar
who tweets bullshit with no basis
not Putin’s little puppet
not the purveyor of fake news
not the most inadequate of presidents
unable to fill others’ shoes

he sees the lost child he once was
the dreams he once harboured
the readiness to see the best in others
the happiness and innocence and hope
and Donald drops to his knees 
by the toilet bowl and sobs 
among the splash stains and the soap
picks up his phone and types


and across the planet
the party starts
seven billion people giving it large
on the terrestrial dancefloor
pensioners necking more booze 
than you could ever shake their stick at
gangsters loved up on pills and purple hearts

on day two, things got so crazy
we even let Theresa May join in
and as the pair of us sat round a fire 
doing tequila slammers
with the stars twinkling overhead
she took another crafty toke and said

comrade, be realistic 
about what this does
and doesn’t mean
– I leaned in to hear her
above the din of marching bands –
let’s not forget
it’s one very small step

but it’s still bigger than his tiny hands.

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