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Category Archives: Stephen Holloway

Two men

The two men of age sat
With ice cream cones
That melted in the heat;
Each drip of luxury
Deliberately hung,
Heated and scorched,
Then scolding coldly
On a hand of history
August remained constantly pure
Blistering memories wide open
Their view of horizons widened
Across an azure blue-bathed vastness.
Yesterday the cauldron of battle,
In vineyards of Toledo
Of Catalonia :
Of Dust and time and land
Precious drops of reddened life
Seeped as wine in an
Iberian sun;
In Spain;
To scar an ancient earth.
The two men watched a sunset
Caress the shortening day
A gilded final stream of fading
Light strayed, illuminating
Their huddled figures:
They looked away.
By Steve Holloway.
The poem relates to the Spanish Civil War. Many ‘ordinary’ men and women from this country (and many other nations too) went to Spain to fight fascism between 1936 – 1939. It is the 75th anniversary of the foundation of the International Brigades in which many perished fighting Franco.

Coastal Bluff

Frozen laughter
Slices through salt edged air; 
Squeals of delight echo incongruously,
Weaving amongst deserted chalets.
An ageless orange skyline
Remains subdued as disfigured
Sunshine splinters along
Promenades carpeted with silvery hoar.
Stained faces
Stare seawards, breathing with the tide
And isolated shores confront a
Grey, foaming aggressor:
Seemingly unannounced.
Local with a walking stick:
Standing, sideways,
Huddled beside an arcade,
With a lady who smokes
And a dog that shivers.
The rock emporium is up for sale.
Daylight suffers as a blanket of
Gloom shrouds each stranded folly;
Deep, mournful, marble shadows
A lone tug-boat exhales.
Songs of summer evaporate
Into a clear, star speckled night.
Pier: Victorian, railing, paint peeling,
Lists just a little more,
Groaning amid the waves.
The Punch and Judy man
Stands alone on the beach:
In silhouette;
With wet feet;
Stephen Holloway


On fenlands of Lincolnshire – alone
Flapping against an aggression from the west
Borrowed clothes ripping as bellowed sails
Flecks of straw rising skywards in dust
A rigid form with fluid movement
Waving and bending and howling
Or is that the squalls of frightened seasons
On flatlands
On tilled earth
Beside the worm worn rook hops
Berates the form of tangled frightening
Folded scorn, in our clothes
Beyond lays a flattened horizon
A sun sets in solemn time
Lowers with the
Arms of the slanted soul who
Becomes shade and silhouette
Appears in a long view set against
A fading light
And whistles pitched high
Cut through this image of mankind.
Stephen Holloway.
 Nottingham poet

A new York story

The city played Gershwin loud
Too much heat, extreme weather
Each avenue appeared to glue together
High summer bewildered the crowd
Eddie Silver sat, foot upon his knee
Business on hold; for lunch – pastrami,
Onions and relish, on rye
A reflective time for the private eye
In breezed the dame – buxom and jilted
Stood by the window to sensually smoulder
Eddie looked up from a trilby that tilted
Out to the mean streets, over her shoulder
Looking at her weeping, an unsteady broad
Beautiful brunette from the south-side of town
A letter thrown open, words tumbled down
Gershwin played on – in a far lower chord
Eddie stared through her dark damson eyes
To the reason she stood close to him
Softly speaking of hardship and lies
Trying to unburden the notion of sin
Eddie Silver: private investigator
Discretion totally guaranteed
Every diploma from murder to law
All cases taken – religion and creed
The sun beat down on Times Square
Yellow cabs swerved in tandem to
The beat of the people who share
The sound of a rhapsody in blue.
Stephen Holloway.

Social mobility

I bought her a scooter
She thought it would suit her
I spoke to her suitor
He told me to shoot her
I purchased a shooter
He said ‘would I shoot her’?
I’d much sooner sue her
Than shoot and then slew her
I sold on the scooter
To Stu her lame suitor
And what of the shooter?
Inside of my shoe sir.
Violence and shooters
Old age and scooters
Stephen Holloway
• What can I say – what about sorry?  It makes me laugh out loud and I wrote it!
Seriously though – there is a message in there somewhere.

Past midnight

Shadowy thin man appears
lurking amid car headlights,
he’s obviously had a few beers,
it’s not a pretty sight
a man who sheds tears.
The sky cloaked as a funeral,
held in a dull trance,
has an uneasy reliance
on misplaced Novas; innumerable,
shooting to a macabre dance.
Thin man follows his own star,
Trilby hat over one eye
to some bolted door of a saloon bar,
again he begins to cry,
too late, I fear, for that last jar.
Crescent moon on high illuminates
empty streets, shuttered blinds,
closed doors, sleeping minds,
dreaming of last nights date,
waking suddenly to ruminate.
Only the thin man walks the way
of hopes and stars and dreams,
unsteadily unable to convey,
nor neither equipped to delay,
a morning mist on sunlit streams.
By Stephen Holloway


It made me look and stop awhile
This song from bellowed breast
On high, on branch, a feathered one
Without a spring-time nest
Low winter sun escaped the clouds
And stroked the preening bird
Deep traffic flowed below the elm
But still the song was heard
The songbird sang for all things new
A voice of fledgling hope
Dancing from each ancient branch
In fine plumage of bespoke
I took my leave as day departed
A song took flight from where it started.
Stephen Hollaway



Sheltering in a doorway from

Diagonal machine-gun rain

Bullets that riddled the church;

Hallowed windows remained stained.

A man, revered, spoke of community

Spirit, occasionally in a Latin tongue

I listened via an agnostic ear

Who was I to say he was wrong?

Sitting at the back drying out

With people who queued for wine

And solace, much more else:

Seeking words from that divine.

As wine turned back to holy water

The heavens opened up

I walked amongst the gathered people

And drank from cherished cup.



Flag (Lament)


Next summer no sign of a flag
What a drag
No fluttering cross from a car
Empty bars
George defeated by a Croat dragon
Our heart is saddened
Goliath, tamed from Zagreb, is found
Weeping, wounded, and unsound
High expectations slowly unfrocked
Defence unlocked
Defiantly waving banners with desperation
It’s over; only respiration
Red merges white – we surrender
1966: remember
Faded flags of former glories
That brings old men’s’ stories
Muffled voices, startled looks
For disbelief and flights of rooks
Darken the sky; amid the land –
The flag, bemused, dare not stand
So console your symbol of power
Walk away to that ivory tower
Give it a rest for a while
As Europe wryly smiles.
• My anti-jingoism poem that tries to lower the flag a little.  Many feel the Union Jack and cross of St. George has been somewhat ‘hijacked’ by factions of the far right.  ‘Faded flags of former glories’ has a double meaning really – football (England were beaten by Croatia in a group qualifying game in 2007) and empire.  We are a spent force in both of these areas, but many still feel we are a world power; in both football and as a military force: we are neither.
10th competition

Hood (The Outlaw Rap)

You see this – it’s misunderstood
Man it’s just a hood
A big part of my attire
But it’s starting to conspire
Against me and my generation
Next there’ll be legislation
By the men in the suits
Westminster brutes!
I mean check out their gear
That’s the look of fear
We don’t make no wars
Give me girls and dance floors
So I can live as a young man
Without a plan
In an existence of leisure
Of unadulterated pleasure
Sometimes in excess
Often reckless
But no threat to national security
At my tender age only purity
And respect is good enough
But what about love?
Is there any left?
Must I be bereft
Of mutual understanding
With our elders demanding
We keep in line
So you see my decline
Will make me retreat to my disguise:
Behind propaganda and lies.
Stephen Holloway

March Hare

And she spotted the blur at once.
Standing stock still
the spaniel took a stance
of anticipation.
One single solitary hare
jinked and swerved to the
tune of a month’s madness;
I attempted to restrain the
anxious beast but
she was gone, too strong;
a gundog unleashed,
Instincts released,
quarry insight,
on comes the night.
Two shadows:
weaving amongst grasslands,
the hare all speed,
the spaniel all duty;
I view the spectacle
with admiration;
beauty and nature
as one;
as hundreds of years ago.
The spaniel stops in disgust,
snorting rapidly;
the hare turns, I’m
sure he laughs,
and takes a bow:
the spaniel and I depart:
silhouettes showered by moon dust.
 Stepthen  Holloway


On the Ning Nang Nong 


On the Ning Nang Nong 
Where the Cows go Bong! 
and the monkeys all say BOO! 
There’s a Nong Nang Ning 
Where the trees go Ping! 
And the tea pots jibber jabber joo. 
On the Nong Ning Nang 
All the mice go Clang 
And you just can’t catch ’em when they do! 
So its Ning Nang Nong 
Cows go Bong! 
Nong Nang Ning 
Trees go ping 
Nong Ning Nang 
The mice go Clang 
What a noisy place to belong 
is the Ning Nang Ning Nang Nong!! 

Spike Milligan
I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.I must down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.I must down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.By John Masefield (1878-1967).
(English Poet Laureate, 1930-1967.)
Wonderful poem.
Sent in by Stephen Holloway.
What are days for?
Days are where we live.
They come, they wake us
Time and time over.
They are to be happy in:
Where can we live but days?
Ah, solving that question
Brings the priest and the doctor
In their long coats
Running over the fields.

Philip Larkin


I have always enjoyed Philip Larkin; he writes about the smallness of life and the larger events that affect us all.
Stephen Holloway.

What’s your favourite poem?

A Glimpse

When silence has flooded the house
tin soldiers open their eyes
clockwork feet of a tiny mouse
attempting to surprise
a spaniel deep in dreams
of some endless summer field
of lake and starlit streams
no longer forced to heel
One long yawn slowly began
a twitch of a shiny nose
and a growl at a figure like Pan
a bark that would surely impose
in darkness, by fireside, a white beard,
that gleamed as if part of a crown
the dog and tin soldiers n’er feared
the figure in the red velvet gown.
Stephen Holloway
9th competition

Fire and Steam

Grinding metal
Hissing steam
Stained black faces
Bodies lean
Wheels that ran on
Rusting dreams
Through an age
When money preened
Look inside the flame
Of progress
Heat of revolution
Coated with a sheen
Of labour
Coal thrown through
Then all is vapour
Vanishing era that shrank
By Beeching
Consigned to history
Assigned for teaching
Out of the gloom
She snorted once more;
Into a vortex we assume:
Fireball finds the trapdoor.
By Stephen Holloway
9th competition

Stage Fright

stage frightxxxxxx
Into unlit recesses stalks doubt
Befriending demons that contort
Shadows and inhabit the empty space
Of elevated madness
Peer through a flat darkness which engulfs
The soul
Silent shrieking sudden echo
Strangling thought and speech
Amid an angled nightmare
Sensing the rush of reversed air
Painted in hues of panicked sweat
One small creak of board
Housed in stillness
Flickering: one scarlet subdued gaslight
A cough
And rustle of curtain.
By Stephen Holloway

Exits and Entrances

Autumn stood at the crossroads
Wearing a golden coat of plenty
Giving a last look at the year
Surrounded by a shallow mist
A russet door stood ajar
Then burst off its hinges
Remnants of leaves took flight
Autumn’s residue trampled by
A darkling thug
A braggart and thief made
Its entrance
Faceless and hooded
Breathing frosted air
Hands of cold compressed steel
That held the dying autumn
By the throat
This mellow boy gasped
His November smile slid
Into the deadly snarl of
Dark shortened days of
Winter stood with autumn
In his arms
Hues of faded reds and
Tainted greens bled slowly
From the fallen season.
Stephen Holloway.
• I like to walk and notice the change in seasons.  Using human form to depict the autumn and winter gave me some scope to see them as the frail disappearing season of beautiful hues, and the brash, bullying season of darkness and chill – making a terrifying entrance.


In the bar she sat alone
Just with her mobile phone
She sipped on her happy hour beer
And showed signs of fear
That he’d let her down again
The beer glass began to stain
In rings on the wobbling table
She stood, unable
To move or speak with clarity
Life was without hilarity.
Stephen Holloway.


An old ancient trade
To a new bag of tools
Skilled master craftsmen
With patience and guile
Show a young eager boy
How it’s all done, what not to do
Keen to learn, willing to graft
For in return, a gift, a craft
To use throughout life
This education of art
Taught to a boy, used as a man
Three years of indenture
In theory and practise
By brain and brawn
Viewed through the telescope of life
A journey that starts as a boy
With a new bag of tools
To a man with an old ancient trade.
Stephen Holloway
9th competition 2011


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