Poetry | Probation file: 29/1957

the juvenile a child in manner

deceptively and dangerously alluring

stained in dusky skin

eyes big brown doe-like arresting

his charm the mask of chaos


at first blush perhaps a girl child?

our desire to save quickens the heart

light limbs soft voice pursed lips sweet

honey-blonde hair as fine as, yes, silk

but he is not to be mistaken for innocence


on 30 September 1970 in the Year of Our Lord

evidenced in Her Majesty’s Child Court Batman Avenue

the juvenile acting with “malice aforethought”

confronted an Officer of the Crown (page 7 para. 1)

with a savagery previously unwitnessed by said Officer


pages, entries, words contained within exhibit

a sorry tale of inevitable fall from grace –

troubled infancy, troubled schooling

trouble trouble trouble – triplicate

in bold in red underlined asterisked accordingly


a predicted story of woe (page 22 para. 3)

the child was “beaten repeatedly & severely”

aged 10 years 7 months 12 days

with metal bar trouser belt and fists

by “person or persons” of child’s own blood


the boy himself becomes that which he fears

violence courses his veins and therefore –

yes, therefore he must become the protected one

by us for us and himself and for the country

this the only Nation girt by sea



Tony Birch

Tony Birch is the author of Shadowboxing, Father’s Day, Blood, The Promise and Ghost River. He is currently research fellow in the Moondani Balluk Academic Centre at Victoria University.

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    1. ….how the beauty of the form
      belies the turmoil of the soul,
      in the torment of a childhood’s
      tortured years, creates the darkest
      sorrow of too-early-Dreamtime tears…

  1. Humanity…we have had this in us, both ways, doer and done to, from the beginning…and also the the opposite. Is change in our future?

  2. I agree Eva….that ‘good wolf’ and the ‘bad wolf’ lives inside all of us … and the ‘one we feed the most will always win’ … we can change for the better! …(dear Eva … if thus is the you from Austinmer NSW…. I am Marian Brown can please email me at mazbrown@yahoo.com … I am so wanting to contact Julie & Stephan … when I happened upon this poem and your comment)

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