Boys Together Clinging (After Walt Whitman & David Hockney), by Tim Dunne

Boys Together Clinging
(After Walt Whitman & David Hockney)

by Tim Dunne

And so they gathered round for a selfie,
boys together, thumbs up, grinning and clinging,
an unexpected photo opportunity on this
Wednesday Amsterdam shift.
The shout to rescue a celeb or two, from a hotel lift,
uncovered a famous artist with press pack in tow.
David, 81, now sits centre on the stool so thoughtfully
passed through the door’s forced gap,
flat hatted and beaming. Not every day
he gets rescued by such dashing knights.

Not quite We Two Boys Together Clinging,
but Walt I’m sure, would rejoice in the
camaraderie so visibly on show here.
Their ‘red badge of courage,’ never in question.
Their enemy, fire and flame,
a conflagration no less lethal
than the smoke and shell of a Civil War battle.
So David, incarceration ended, smiles serenely,
while the boys around him cling together
full satisfied in the knowledge, of a job well done.

Hockney, David, b.1937; We Two Boys Together Clinging

Sources:
A copy of photo and BBC News article can be seen here:
https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-47401639

We Two Boys Together Clinging by Walt Whitman:
https://www.bartleby.com/142/56.html

We Two Boys Together Clinging by David Hockney:
https://www.artscouncilcollection.org.uk/artwork/we-two-boys-together-clinging

Process notes:
The poem was written in response to the BBC web article which describes how David Hockney got stuck in a lift in a hotel in Amsterdam and had to be rescued by a local Fire crew. From his smiling face, surrounded as he is by hunky Dutch firemen, he seemed to have enjoyed the experience! The way the men were gathered together reminded me of Hockney’s early painting We Two Boys Together Clinging, which is in itself an allusion to Walt Whitman’s poem of the same name and his experience as a medical orderly in the battlefields of the American Civil War.

Tim Dunne has now taught English and Drama for more than 40 years. At first in the North West of England, then North Wales and for the past eight years abroad, first in Saudi Arabia and now in Azerbaijan. Home though, is up in the mountains of Snowdonia in the beautiful Croesor valley, where he lives with his wife, Bev, daughter Phoebe, six cats and one dog. Though now legally a pensioner, he has no intention of retiring just yet.

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