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Aug 2020 · 144
Dave Gledhill Aug 2020
Tear open the box,
cast the lid to one side.
Drag a nail down the oak
and the velvet inside.

Smash open the lock
and clutch with your claws.
Glare an envious eye
at the things that aren’t yours.  

Force open the drawer,
spit your ink on my clothes.
As you search for the answer
that only I know.  

Thrash open the base
and bite at the cloth.
Howl at the tickets
and the trinkets you’ve lost.

Swipe at the lining
and carve out your name.
My prize will stay hidden,
and safe,
just the same.
Aug 2018 · 1.5k
Dave Gledhill Aug 2018
The eagle searches, circling, senses strum like spider silk.
Sorrow’s scent slides up on a sea breeze.
A solitary slave spits sullenly into the spray.
Silently, suddenly, the sentinel streaks down.

Beak breaks skin, breaches bone, crimson blots the ocean’s foam.
Defenceless, relentless, the bird blurs in a barrage of blood.
Banished, betrayed, the ravaged titan sways -  
between the rocks that form his cage.

His foe retreats; a closing caw as crooked claws cleave meat.
Head bowed in defeat, our hero strains as chains bind
hands and feet.
Enduring bonds cut deep and bleed him bittersweet.

Cast against the crags,
this castaway’s castigated cries call out
to no-one.
Chastised, he squints with hollow eyes
towards a lifetime of the bird’s reprise.
Furious. Fists flex,
thrashing against his fortress.
Face furrowed into a frown he flings forward
and for once finds his foot…

Bindings broken, his bonds bite terra firma,  
as first a foot and then a hand finds favour.
Boundless, he bellows at the sky
as the flotsam of his freedom floats on by.

Reprieved. Aggrieved. He is restless in release.
An errant righteous line repeats.  
Relentless in its beat, it rings out like raw steel on teeth.
A ricochet that disturbs his sleep

“Is this victory, or defeat?”

Racked by reminiscence,
his reality and responsibility remain.
Warped roots rammed down
with rock-filled boots.
Resistance seems obtuse against such reoccuring fruit.

Reluctant, resigned, he rattles out a sigh -  
the last gasp of this transitory high.
Reaching for the rope and tack he re-binds the knots
that hold him back.  
With one last glance towards the past
he hoists his soul upon the mast.

May 2017 · 573
Repeat Offender
Dave Gledhill May 2017
screams the judge,
wielding a whiskey and a weaponised Women’s Weekly,
as I flare inside but choose instead to smile meekly.  
Was my Dad the spawn of Jeffrey Dahmer?
Or the bloke who used to watch Kojak, on a Sunday, in pyjamas?
In fairness though, the absence of the villain of this piece,
last seen clubbing in Ibiza with a girl who’s not his niece,
does nothing to lighten this affair.
Especially with his crimes bequeathed to me, his heir.
The charges apparently too ignoble for repentance,
I brace to bear the brunt and bile of sentence.

Her glib-gab gores each guilty glance.
Each chapter claimed by circumstance.
Her words a whip, envenomed lace,
lashed out anew upon my face.
It matters not that he’s elsewhere,
I stand accused for the genes I wear.
I’d serve notice now, demand redress,
if he hadn’t eloped to a vague address.
The urge to silent scream? Repressed.

Repeal rejected, defence disbarred.
Appeal affected, mis-trial marred.
A deafeningly dead deal is on the cards.
I pause perpetually and play the clock,
Until “New Witness!!” echoes around the dock.

Youngest courtroom entrant in our history,
identity unknown and gender still a mystery.
“Oh, look how wonderful this is!” coos the judge.
Now as sticky sweet and seasonal as fudge.
“Of course this cherub must approach the bench,
with the defendant as mouthpiece to represent”.
“Pray tell, sinner, its testimony loud and clear"
*Cue a minor mandate that only I can hear *
A pause. A private parley. No drama.
As you preside, presently, I’ll present the prion’s prose without palaver:

“I will grow, just like my father”.
For the people who made me write again. For better or worse.
Jul 2015 · 2.7k
An Education
Dave Gledhill Jul 2015
The pen, they say, is mightier,
but is it keener than a knife?
This brittle blade of insolence,
unleashed to lash at life.

'Yeah, innit, Bruv, he got right up in my face,
cos my phone was out in lesson time
and he called me a disgrace.
Like, so, whatever, mate,
I told him where to go,
trying to tell me English,
while I'm textin' my new ***.'

The pen is not mightier,
it is tarnished and obtuse,
a vision of a different age,
wrought blind from its misuse.

Its sapling song of innocence,
split south across the grain
and cast across the classroom,
yanked up and lobbed again.

'Do you get me, Blood?
He was pointing at a seat,
expectin' ME to sit there,
as if it were a treat.
I told him where to stick it
and called him out a clown,
I **** this one-way death pit
as I'm walkin' round and round.'

The pen should still be mighty
and not a strangled stream,
that's crawling up an incline,
like an M. C. Escher dream.

Its muddy banks lie dormant,
both acorn and an oak.

'Cut that ****, you KEENO,
let's ******* for a smoke.'
Jan 2015 · 885
Dave Gledhill Jan 2015
There, beneath the ice.
An unready meal, unfit for consumption.
A drowning dalek, malfunctioned.
All intellect, no gumption.

There, amongst the trees.
Too eager to please,
all smiles and bended knees,
platitudes float by on breeze.

There, left in the rain.
Torn head stitched back again -
a pale plaster-cast of pain.
Her mask descending down the drain.  

There, amid the crowd.
Talking painfully too loud,
arrogance veils like a shroud,
inside, her head stays bowed.

There, across the street.
Hoping that we meet,
shuffling feet on summer heat,
Her broken heart won't beat.

Here, an open road.
A rerun or new episode?
Traffic slowed,
this time, we go.
Jan 2015 · 2.6k
Dave Gledhill Jan 2015
I see your hand waver, now you're faced with a ghost,
not the raw, killer features that were nailed to a post.
Just an old, dying cowboy, trying hard to play host.
There's a chair if you've mercy, and a story...come close.

The liquor of youth lights a fire in you, son.
Puts that flame in your eyes and the heat in your lungs.
I wore that expression, before your thread was spun,  
so let me unload, you can shoot when I'm done.

Growing sore in my saddle as the nag became lame,  
I sold off my shooters, then re-mortgaged my name.
But tease out the creases, we're exactly the same;
two felons of fortune, wanting someone to blame.

See, I never got settled, didn't take me a wife.
Sailed a ship in a bottle, on the edge of a knife.
I put stock in misfortune and invested in strife,
took diminished returns, paid no interest to life.

But corralling cattle won't hold them for long,
they're born to roam free where they know they belong.
Soon the lipstick and whiskey begins to taste wrong,
as the backroom piano sighs its monotone song.

By a tangerine sunset I scraped off my boots
and considered an orchard as it set down its roots.
As a buzzing of insects idly nurtured its fruits,
I was deafened by silence. My own garden was mute.

So I clutched at the earth as I fell to the floor,
to ask for forgiveness, as you darkened my door.  
Seems redemption's eloped, like a gold digging *****.  
Just a name on a tombstone, for a few dollars more.

Quite an end would be fitting for a fool so innate,  
who has squandered his years until the hour is late.
Son, unholster your weapon and wipe off the slate,
I beg execution, swift vengeance,  But wait...

Did I catch my reflection as it fell from your face?
Like a hound in a heatwave, too tired to give chase?  
Son, the trail that you're riding is easy replaced.
You can stand in the sunlight, or come sit in my place.
Aug 2014 · 1.5k
Dave Gledhill Aug 2014
A stilted stay, a pregnant pause,
as shadows sharpen midnight claws.
A dimming dome oppressed by night,
smiles weakly on this parasite.

It enters as a Trojan horse,
along a crawled collision course.
Its hollow husk holds silent spies,
who have no room for alibis.

This craven creature starts to nest,
in memories you'd long repressed
and darts behind your mood's eclipse,
a smirk of sadness on its lips.

From weary womb the beast begets,
its offspring weaned upon regrets.
Until it stirs with needle teeth,
to tear the tenderness beneath.  

It stalks from shade, a grievance grown,
to steal the thoughts that were your own.
Its brittle bark a bare refrain,
before it leaps and snaps the chain.
Jun 2014 · 1.0k
Dave Gledhill Jun 2014
Register recap,
All perfect plans, in theory,
Hey! Put that kid down!
Apr 2014 · 1.4k
Dave Gledhill Apr 2014
Hudson, Hicks, Vasquez,
Android crew on board. Ripley -
Didn't like cornbread.

Last survivor, Newt.
Evacuation cancelled.
You're just a grunt.

'Yeah, Bishop should go'
Sulaco dropship inbound,
Huggers roam freely.

One final rescue,
Push through the god-**** airlock.
Escape. Fade to black.
Mar 2014 · 1.4k
Dave Gledhill Mar 2014
The coach capsized and spilled its freight,
a glut of rabid reprobates,
who swarm towards a sea of lights
and fill their cups with harbour nights.

We do not heed the lighthouse glare,
or match the fortune-teller's stare.
We storm the cliffs as if to pillage
the gift shops of this seaside village.

We mill around a restaurant's doors
and nip at hot dogs with our claws.
Stockpiling rock up by the stick,
whilst wearing hats marked 'Kiss Me Quick'.  

Because we cannot hear their cries
for whispered arcade lullabies,
the gulls will dance above the tide
and mock sandcastle suicides.

The distant fort once planted proud,
clings to the hillside like a shroud.
Its craggy face a last dissuasion,
against the sea's saline invasion.

Perhaps the Ferris wheel's arc,  
can count each dawn against the dark.
A spotlight shone upon each heart,
as we rehearse our weathered parts.

Pastime play or parlor show,
we forget the lines we ought to know
and stumble on with blind devotion,
to pour our years into the ocean.

And yet! We catch the child's smile,
projected on a seafront mile.
His mirth casts doubt upon the claim,
that each new act concludes the same.

The beach begins and ends each dance,
each interval a second chance  
to wake the youth we put to sleep
and cast the hourglass into the deep.
Jan 2014 · 1.5k
Dave Gledhill Jan 2014
I'm troubled by a broken tune,
that can't keep time and loops too soon.
Like Christmas in the heart of June,
each summer's heat a curdled moon. 

It's not that I keep glancing back, 
or wander down well-trodden tracks,
I've raged against a wall of facts,
interrogating every crack. 

Yet still I feel its tender bass
and scrawl each lyric on my face.
I've copied out each line to trace 
the meaning of this groundhog chase. 

No matter which new route I choose,
this labyrinth seems short of clues.
There are no shields or string to use,
just an ageing bard that strums the blues.

And now begins another dance,
the waltz of sighs and askew glance.
It's orchestra tuned up by chance,
with instruments of circumstance.

And so returns the song's refrain.
Its endless echo back again,
to score my steps while I remain, 
a different man, who's still the same.
Dec 2013 · 795
Moving forward
Dave Gledhill Dec 2013
Walk a perfect path.
A thousand easy footsteps -
- when the shoes fit well.
Dec 2013 · 2.5k
Born to Excel - A Haiku
Dave Gledhill Dec 2013
Work is a prison
filled with white spreadsheet walls
and blank, empty cells
Dec 2013 · 916
Dave Gledhill Dec 2013
They all said it was risky,
cos the stakes were too high.
But I'd drank all the whiskey
and my sense had run dry.

So I sat down in earnest
and she pulled up a chair.
The place was a furnace,
as she swept back her hair.

Well we called for a dealer
and counted out chips.
Then we ordered tequila,
as her tongue traced her lips.

So we started out betting,
till the game was ablaze.
I confess I was sweating,
as the cards hit the baize.

Well I studied the table
and covered my grin.
Cos I knew I'd be able,
to play big and win.

I raised her bets higher
and gave no reprieve.
Until the light of the fire,
caught the ace up her sleeve.

As soon as I spied it,
I tried to withdraw.
She took no pains to hide it,
or the guard on the door.

I felt instantly older
and shuddered with cold,
when a hand gripped my shoulder,
I heard 'All-In or Fold.'
Dec 2013 · 897
Dave Gledhill Dec 2013
I swear I know this place.
I saw you here with a different face.
I still don't understand,
why your echo is so hard to trace.

I'm sure I held your hand.
Bought a CD of your favourite band.
But now the moment fades,
like a postcard from a sunburnt land.

I think I knew your name.
Kept our photo in a gilded frame.
Until the glass wore cracks
and I splintered with reflected blame.

I doubt I'd place your scent.
Or realise what that expression meant.
I try to grasp the straws,
of a haystack where the needle's bent.

I almost drew your shape.
Vaguely dreaming of our weekend scrapes.
But when I close my mind,
a window opens and the past escapes.

I don't recall your face.
Did I meet you in a different place?
I hope you understand,
that the echo makes you hard to trace.
Nov 2013 · 1.3k
Dave Gledhill Nov 2013
There was a time, before all this,
of moonlight dreaming and a stolen kiss.
Reckless weekends as a roaming pack,
snarling to force each Monday back.

It never mattered that we'd rise,
at lunchtime, with ironic eyes.
Or worry that we had to vote -  
we held our freedom by the throat.

But then the music starts to skip,
a symphony more 'Dad' than hip.
You can't remember when you traded,
******* in for IKEA's pages.

Those forgotten relics of a bygone age,
lost in a corner that was centre stage.
A flickered memory of a neon soul
and the dying heart of old Rock N' Roll.

Until one day, an ageing hound,
you find you're back in canine town.
But nothing breathes familiar scent,
the perfume of your youth is spent.  

So through the mist you track your flaws
and paw the earth with blunted claws.
Announcing with a strangled howl,
that you've returned,
to the wolf pack prowl.
Nov 2012 · 7.3k
Dave Gledhill Nov 2012
The Amazons fractured her skull
while he was busy
introducing himself, with a handshake
and a teapot:
'Good Morning!'
A tuneless whistle,
an anthem from nowhere
falls on deaf ears,
eyes faded to pastel
like a warning poster
after twenty copies
and acid rain.
Not an episode from real life
just an ivory circus,
the sport of savagery
At an end.
It wouldn't happen in Blighty.
A dark heartbeat,
a steady drum
The pen is mightier than the spear,
blotted shapes in the rushes
Inert, unheard
No time for farewells
Oct 2012 · 741
Mirror Man
Dave Gledhill Oct 2012
A man looks into the mirror.
An old man,
an odd man,
an ottoman, jammed with memories,
spanning centuries.
Bland extremities
glare back, like enemies.

The mirror looks into the man.
An iron gaze,
a searing graze.
No golden glaze
upon a face,
where youth was lost
in its pitted maze.

The mirror reflects
the man,
upon regrets.
Begins to regress.
Cannot protest, as time
floats by like breath.

The mirror frames
the mirror's flames,
burn deep, ingrained
and whisper strange
proverbs of his pain.
A man looks into the mirror.
A young man.
An old man.
Apr 2012 · 838
Dave Gledhill Apr 2012
Oh God, how are you still talking?
I can feel myself nodding,
head bouncing like a metronome,
Yes. No. Maybe.
Of course I’m listening, Babe.
Except I’m not - obviously.
I’m  watching that girl walk by, all lithe limbs,
languidly lounging past the window.
I wonder where she’s going,
I wonder where you’re going -  
with this tiresome tirade.
Your eyes rolling, like the reels on the fruit machine,
No delay on your train of thought.
Hard to keep track, can’t read the signals,
eyes filled with smoke,
trapped by your tedious tannoy,
covering old ground,
chugging relentlessly,
chanting incessantly,
crowing endlessly,  
My job? It’s fine.
My health? It’s fine!
Finances? Enough to get a pint in!
Can I risk a diversion?
Why are you broadcasting this nonsense?
When will it stop?
Wait. What?
Mar 2012 · 1.1k
Seasonal Haiku
Dave Gledhill Mar 2012
Daffodil’s gold crown
Peeks above the fresh grown lawn
Look out! Crouching dog!

Sun on back of neck
Meat spits and pops over red flame
Ah, no ketchup left.

Trees float by like ghosts
The countryside cast in bronze
Stop! Leaves on the line.

Winter coat and scarf
Protects against the cold but,
Not from ice path falls.
Mar 2012 · 1.8k
Do Not Adjust Your Set
Dave Gledhill Mar 2012
Turn on the TV and switch off your brain,
tune into Jezza as you fade out the shame,
point at his cattle, and laugh at their pain,
forget their faces,
cos’ they all look the same.
Memorise headlines, forgetting you’re smart,
the news screaming fear, as this world ‘falls apart’
hating your neighbour’s a good place to start,
he’s likely a ****, or a bomber  
at heart.
‘England Expects’ is their asinine bray,
as they talk up the players on ‘Match of the Day’
before posting on Twitter that one of em’s gay.
‘Oh we lost in the semis?’
Start feigning dismay.
Forget about stress, skip working hard,
you can lend owt till payday, or just get a new card,
it doesn’t matter, if your credit is barred,
say you slipped in reception,
and hit your knee hard.
Now! Vital News! Our cameras have spied,
the markings of botox on that celebrity bride.
Maybe it’s scandal, there’s no rush to decide,
you’ve opened the box,
and its trapped you inside.
Mar 2012 · 1.3k
The Journey
Dave Gledhill Mar 2012
This train home is twice delayed,
it's ******* up the plans I've made
and in the pub I wish I'd stayed.
It's still not here yet.  

I have no doubt when it comes soon,
I'll have to endure a banging tune -
from the Ipod of some drunken buffoon,
It's still not here yet.

I sometimes wish that I'd take wing -
Like Icarus or a feathered thing,
That builds its nest from twigs and string.
It's still not here yet.

I suppose in time we'll own a car
and avoid all those bizarre -
excuses from the conductor.
It's still not here yet.

In time we'll take drives to the beach
and let a wild dog off the leash,
while the sea wind steals our speech.
It's still not here yet.

We'll have a garden for barbeques,
with potted plants and stunning views
and comfy chairs in which to snooze,
but we're not there yet.
Mar 2012 · 1.1k
School's Out
Dave Gledhill Mar 2012
My mates ‘ll be in Geography now,
painting Tipex on their -  
nails, and swishing their hair about,
cos they’re worth it.
Hoping the boys will notice
their cheeky smiles,
before having a crafty ***,
and a pasty from Greggs.
I should be in Geography now,
but I’m sitting here -
staring at the blue line that’s telling me,
I’m dead,
because my parents are going to
a kid having a kid,
what will the neighbours say?
Should I run away, or stay and face -
the music that won’t stop playing, can’t turn it off like
my Ipod,
can’t skip this track,
can’t look back, or re-sit this test
none of my mates will know what’s best
School’s out.
Mar 2012 · 759
This Town
Dave Gledhill Mar 2012
Pound shop,
amusement arcade.
Spending the pittance of a life that they’ve made
at the job centre,
having it large,
scratting up tab ends,
before making a charge
to the Wetherspoon’s
for the rest of the night,
works even better if they get in a fight.
With their dog on a string,
hat’s probably nicked,
outside the bus station, begging on sticks,
like the world’s cheapest tricks.
Used to be good for a night on the town,
now the streets are starting to
in dross and
but if you look at their frown, they
couldn’t care less
about your time.
Time to make tracks and drive,
its ‘kicking out’ soon and they’ll
eat you alive.
Mar 2012 · 1.7k
Dave Gledhill Mar 2012
Well of course, Your Honour, I can explain,
why I urinated on the train.
You see the first toilet appeared to be locked,
and the other one of course was blocked.
Is it wrong? You could dispute,
Do you expect ‘Moi’ to ruin an Armani suit?
Clearly men of our position,
can appreciate my pleas of contrition?
What’s that you say?  Inebriated?
A glass or two, it should be stated -
for the record, which should also note,
the tear in the sleeve of my cashmere coat,
caused by the vandals that restrained,
as I was wrongly cuffed and detained.
As a chap of substance before the court,
perhaps my innocence could be bought?
No, no, not a bribe of course,
more a donation of remorse.
It’s not as if the jury gives a ****,
they obviously don’t realise who I am.
It is clearly just the wrong decision,
to send a man of breeding to a prison.
A witness says that I was ******?
And that I tried to stand up but missed?
What slanderous lies of lesser classes,
perhaps I’d had three or four healthy glasses.
And reports of singing and standing on my seat,
are fabricated, nonsense and incomplete.
Cameras saw me strike the face -
of a man, with my leather briefcase?
Perhaps at this stage I should refrain,
and allow you to address this stain -
on my character which I’m sure you agree,
is beneath the contempt of someone like me.
Surely you can’t have confirmed my guilt?
What about the reputation I’ve built?
Before they take me, please pray tell,
will there be a servant in my cell?
Mar 2012 · 1.2k
Infinite Lives
Dave Gledhill Mar 2012
I remember when we were small, and you were just a bat and ball,
on the TV,
just a blip and a blot, bouncing around, while I crawled in my cot,
and we both grew, in volume and vision,
to blast into space on our own secret mission -  
aliens fled when we were in session.
I remember one Christmas when I was just eight, pretending to sleep,
but staying up late,
my fingers crossed tight, trying to resist the pull of the night,
hoping that Santa would see me alright, with your arrival,
in a spectrum of light.
I couldn’t believe that your new form took tapes! That your games had more
than just plumbers and apes! I’d heard you could draw more than 10,000 shapes!
It’s a wonder I slept, while your envoy escaped.
I remember with fondness the pull of arcades, destroying the Deathstar and rescuing maids,
the scramble for change as you begged to be played, we were lost in the moment,
a moment which stayed.
I recall the freedom you offered at will, a doorway to dreams that’s cast ajar still,
and despite being an adult, I still feel that thrill, at the theme tune to Sonic,
all manic and shrill.
I know that I’m older, and soon thirty-five, and that there’s no cheat code for bills,
or for wives,
but I still hope that somehow our friendship survives,
I’ll remember you gave me those infinite lives.

— The End —