Walsall to Wolverhampton on the 529 Bus


top deck

By Steve Pottinger


from way up here, you can see it all


the terrible beauty

of pensioners staring through windows

schoolkids slouching towards the classroom

not wanting to go


you see

flashing lights at the level crossing

diesel running back to base, light loco

arctics moving stuff from there to here

inching in the nose-to-tail-to-nose


you see

the dumpy ballet of fork-lifts

the loading and unloading

men in the new flat cap of the company hi-vis

grafting and grousing and joking


you see

backyard mechanics in corrugated yards

smeared in oil and grease

the nodded corsayfairer

the sheen of puddles and of handshakes


you see

the lads on bikes

who have nothing to their names

yet pull perfect effortless wheelies

the length of their street day after day after day


you see

Johnny striding down the towpath

can of Special on the go

two more in his coat pocket

just to take the edge off, you know?


and in between the high-rise

where the sun glints through

you can sometimes see hope

if you squint real hard


and let your gaze slip out of focus



Steve Pottinger, one of the best known faces behind the MIC stands of the region’s poetry circuit, brings us this tour from the town of Saddlers to the lair of Wolves, via the 529 and verse. Our guide, not cool boy at the back of the bus, more world-weary commuter in contemplation, offers simple observations that accumulate in their ‘terrible beauty’ – as if the ‘nose-to-tail-to-nose’ of the traffic and of mundane routines mirror some of the socio-economic inertia of this post-industrial area. Worry not, as Steve’s narrator reminds us, hope is only a matter of squinting in the right way. Find out more about Pottinger here.



Author: rmfrancis

R. M. Francis is a poet from the Black Country. Author of Transitions (Black Light Engine Room, 2015) and Orpheus (Lapwing Publications, 2016). He's currently researching his PhD at the University of Wolverhampton

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