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Prison Officer's Son Prison Officer's Son
by Ovi Magazine Guest
2021-09-07 05:59:22
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Prison Officer’s Son
Ian C Smith

Before he discovered Alan Sillitoe’s lonely long-distance running Borstal boy, his first encounter with a startling marriage of prose and poetry, he lived inside a Borstal compound in a row of prefabricated rent-subsidised houses for families of mostly uneducated and unskilled officers.  A provocative child attracted by the shiver of jeopardy, he shoplifted sweets, cramming his mouth with sensation despite daily reminders of crime and punishment.  At the inmates’ picture nights officers’ families could sit up the back watching feel good old musicals.  These flickering images initiated a cinematic love affair for the boy, an escape route from troubled years ahead, the lonely miles that were to ensue.  Now these ghostly memories; roles played, onscreen and off, soundtrack songs from his early scenes, a murmur of trapped voices before the lights dimmed, the heady whiff of cigarette smoke, young offenders calling to his father – who once persuaded a frightened youth down from a roof – using his father’s nickname, keys penetrating locks, the crunch of footfalls on those late walks home beneath horse-chestnuts, his father whistling through the dark beyond the wire enclosure, his big torch lighting the way back to life’s repetition, their idea of freedom, the little tin house.



Ian C Smith’s work has been published in Antipodes, BBC Radio 4 Sounds, cordite, The Dalhousie Review, Griffith Review ,Poetry Salzburg Review, The Stony Thursday Book, & Two Thirds North.  His seventh book is wonder sadness madness joy, Ginninderra (Port Adelaide).  He writes in the Gippsland Lakes area of Victoria, and on Flinders Island.

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