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POETRY / On seeing Derek Jarman’s Sebastiane when coming of age / David Hanlon

Image courtesy of Cinegate

Image courtesy of Cinegate



The corridors              the classrooms

crawl space vents

house on top

boys’ roars

a colosseum crushing

down on me

one by one

each one louder than the next


Batty boy        Batty Boy!      BATTY BOY!









b         o                    y



The louder the name call

the one that could break silence

swift    powerful

as a punch from a boxer

who knocks out his opponent with one hit

the more maniacal the ensuing howls of laughter


And that one boy

whomever he may be that day            usually

lower in rank

who achieved this great feat

would be shoulder-nudged      receive

arms like hammers swung

around his neck           momentary alpha status


I’d duck behind computers                 cling to handrails        

hide on unpopular staircases

live in the suffocation

gesticulating body       effeminate demeanour            

high-pitched inflection


My teenage years spent beating away an unyielding boomerang




At home          I came across a blank video cassette   Sebastiane


To this day      I don’t know how       I stumbled

on such a film in my family home

but I do know that etched       on my battered adolescent mind


the chisel of defined muscle

laid up against jagged rocks

softened into tender-made beds

where any head           such as mine    scrambled

as a Jackson Pollock painting

would be cushioned

calm as windless seas             comforted

as one is by the sight of          new life in Spring


each touch       each fondle      liquid yolk centres flowing

into one another

the nourishing             nourishing


One taking the other’s hand and leading        delicate

as dandelion seed heads dispersed by a light wind

to water’s carnal grip


The film held my hand           like a parent holds a small child’s

at the seaside

as they take their first steps    into vast          unknown waters


Today              I dive head first into sea stacks

splay my body over    arrow-sharp cliffs

David Hanlon is from Cardiff, Wales, and currently living in Bristol, England. He is a qualified counsellor/therapist. You can find his work online in or forthcoming with Riggwelter Press, Dirty Paws Poetry Review, Into The Void, Boston Accent Lit, Yes, Poetry Barren Magazine, among others.