Crowd Control


I’ve waited for years for the right words to flesh out an anguish that has hung immeasurably heavy on my heart. As such, to do justice to its gravity, I’m giving this work my first-ever preface. The picture above shows a typical advertisement of my subject matter. Far from the glamour they’ve commercially flaunted, the abortion clinics owed the profiteering flourish to 36 years of an immoderate national policy, which ended two years ago—and decades too late. The driving force behind the policy (and its full-swing reversal now) is but the utilitarian reduction of human existence to mere statistical numbers. Although the policy has ended, the social disregard for humanity has prevailed, and so have these glamorous advertisements. From pop-up banners on everyday websites to giant decals printed outside public transport, they continue to promote, loud and proud, the practice of “人流” (ren liu)—a literal homonym (exclusive to this country) that is ironically shared by “induced abortion” and “crowd control”.


Crowd Control

The taking of a soul,
Shed for the greater good:
We call it “crowd control”.

A little cut was made;
A beating heart was pooped—
The stealing of a soul.

In blood the price was paid
For those of us still stood:
It’s only “crowd control”!

Why should we be afraid
When the wriggler had drooped—
The giving of a soul?

Won’t our conscience evade
Being thrown for a loop,
For the sake o’ “crowd control”?

No hole in ground to spade—
Right in the bin it’s swooped.
The taking of a soul—
We call it “crowd control”.

Colin Lee



Today, Frank, our host in dVerse’s MTB–How to Write a Villanelle, is asking us to write a villanelle, which, of course, is one of my favourite forms. The challenging rhyme scheme had me (again!); please excuse the bending of the form. Also, I opted for the rarer trimeter to concentrate the pull of my message. It worked … I hope.

Photo Courtesy: For this one? Seriously? I don’t give a shit!

28 thoughts on “Crowd Control

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  1. It is interesting that “ren liu” means both induced abortion and crowd control. I liked how you approached a serious topic. Also, nice modification of the pentameter line to trimeter. It sounded good to my ear.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Isn’t it sick — advertised as a celebrated consummer product? In my opinion, some abortions are necessary, especially when a mother’s life is at stake. The debate in the west is at a different level: I can’t say I fully agree with “planned parenthood”, but at least I empathise with them on the challenges and pain that lead to the decisions — most often not driven by sinister motives. But … over here, there simply isn’t a sniff of human dignity in the equation, whether it be the policies, the culture of patronising the clinics, the medical procedures … and the sickening ads like this one that drove me mad.


  2. This is heartbreaking! In India though there’s no such ad nevertheless the practice of ‘taking away of the soul’ continues and what’s sickening is it’s done mainly on the fetus (legal, not out of wedlock) of a girl child. Ugh.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My heart aches with yours, Sumana. I cannot understand that mentality, here we are, in the 21st century! I’m expecting my 3rd child, a daughter, in about a month or so. One thing I’m sure of … I’ll be as proud a father to her as I am to my sons. If anything, man should be the weaker sex, mentally and constitutionally. I say so as a man. Ha.


  3. A diffcult topic to write about so I salute you for sharing your thoughts in the villanelle form ~ The stealing of the soul is abhorrent to think about ~ Ironically, I have not seen such ads here ~ I admire the slight variation on the refraining lines ~

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Very well written. I understand your disgust for abortion on demand, or on a whim (so it seems from your description). I think it must also be dangerous to women’s bodies, and that this is a good case for ‘prevention rather than cure’. I do also think the world has become dangerously over-populated, which is one factor in both wars and environmental pollution – but I don’t think supermarket-style abortions a good answer to that problem.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Rosemary. You nailed the point here — prevention — though I wouldn’t suggest that an innocent life is anything to do with an illness in need of “cure”. As I replied to Bjorn above, some abortions are unavoidable. What I’m primarily against is this supermarket-style (may I borrow from you) practice to be taken on a whim, celebrated as a quick fix to the consequences of adults’ behaviours — the utterly selfish disregard of human dignity.

      I’d like to think that, amidst the unborn, we might have had our next Einstein, Gandhi, Edison … The solutions to wars and overpopulation and energy resource might have crossed our paths but instead flown away. But, of course, we’ll never know.


  5. It has taken me a while to finish reading the villanelles. I actually read this a couple of days ago but was overwhelmed by the emotion of the topic at first reading. I’ll focus on form since all that can be said on the topic has been said by your words. It is a great choice to write this in trimeter, giving it a light feeling, like child’s verse. That is a tremendous counter point to the subject of the poem, making the words just that much stronger.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your returning and commenting, Jilly. When I started, I felt the repetitiveness of a villanelle could be put in good use for the purpose, but at the same time my poem shouldn’t sound too “beautiful”, or lyrically intricate, as in a typical villanelle. I wanted its emotional appeal as raw as blood. I wanted it go straight to the point. I wanted it read in everyday language. Thus the trimeter. Thus the child’s verse quality. While I didn’t want the sensitivity of the subject to get in the way either, I left the other details in the preface and the comments here. That was the thought process behind my arrangement; and the rest was in charge by the heart, not the head.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. The shorter trimeter heightened the urgency and emotions of the message. It was a sad event – it made a lot of people sad – children who would have no siblings, or aunts or uncles. I pray that the worldview created by the policy would change in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comment, Imelda. I can’t agree with you more: the change of policy is one thing, the change of the worldview imposed is another. Your mentioning of the absence of siblings and aunts/uncles touches on another dire subject — the inverted family tree.

      I remember this one kid, in his early 20s, whose grandma, parents and a disabled uncle all depended on him. While they were from a poor region (where employment was scarce), the boy, who was minimally educated, confessed he had no foreseeable chance to pay off the family debts, let alone finding himself a wife and family. One day, he came into my office and told me his grandma was ill. The family back home needed his immediate presence … indefinitely. Drenched in tears, he resigned, knowing their debts would further snowball.

      Imagine how many millions of families will face similar challenges in the years to come. After all, the policy that benefited the greater good yesterday simply withdrew from the productivity on tomorrow’s credit. So, I’m afraid the prospect of this isn’t very hopeful.


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