Breaking bones do sound alike,

Whether separated by thirty years and half a world,

Though marked by tropical sweat or winter’s chill,

My lost youth or creeping middle age.


Children cry, the tears run free

From brown slanted Asian eyes

Or pouring down the pale white face

Of my little toddler girl.


Neglect of duty is the burden: 

Christmas memories of a beaten Vietnamese boy,

So cruelly whipped and whimpering,

So wrongly broken, have never been forgotten.


But a parent’s stop frame panic when

The playground swing descends toward

The unsuspecting innocent soon knocked flat

Is not like a hostile interrogation.


The hollowness in my heart,

The emptiness of my conscience

Rattles like a little drum,

Is pounding like a hammer on my soul.



Karl Michel

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