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by Zettel 

Posted: 15 July 2016
Word Count: 167
Summary: Nice 14th June 2016

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Our Father who art in heaven
“Daddy why have they killed me?”
Hallowed be thy name
“Was I bad Daddy?”
Thy Kingdom come
“Will I go to Heaven Daddy?”
Thy will be done
“Did they mean to do it Daddy?”
On earth as it is in Heaven
“I want my Mummy”
Give us this day our daily bread
“Daddy I’m thirsty”
And forgive us our trespasses
“What did I do wrong Daddy?”
As we forgive those who trespass against us
“I didn’t hurt anyone Daddy”
And lead us not into temptation
“Why did they pick on me Daddy?”
But deliver us from evil
“Why didn’t you stop them Daddy?”
For thine is the Kingdom
“Don’t you love me Daddy?”
The power and the glory
“I don’t think I love you any more Daddy”
For ever and ever
“Will I always be dead Daddy?”
“Will there be more children coming I can play with Daddy?”
“Daddy I’m frightened: are you there?”

“Where are you Daddy?”

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Comments by other Members

James Graham at 20:29 on 15 July 2016  Report this post
This is a remarkable poem. I'll post a full comment soon.


Bazz at 21:02 on 15 July 2016  Report this post
This is quite a haunting piece of work, Zettel, I wouldn't alter any of it. I'm afraid these are sad and upsetting times...

V`yonne at 23:11 on 15 July 2016  Report this post
I'm in bits here! Incredible piece of work. Don't know what else to say.


I will say I would take this at TLWs but I think you should try it in a competition you know!

Jojovits1 at 00:41 on 16 July 2016  Report this post
Oh, my.  This gave me goose bumps.  I actually don't like how it makes me feel, but can't stop reading it.

Beautiful and devastating at the same time.  It leaves me with an overwhelming sense of desolation and dispair.  Sorry, this sounds all negative but it isn't.  The poem itself is amazing, it's the images and the feelings it conjours up that are harrowing.  

God is our Father?  God is Love?  Where the hell is God right now?

Frightening times. 



V`yonne at 08:29 on 16 July 2016  Report this post

I actually don't like how it makes me feel, but can't stop reading it.

Ditto! This would WOW any competition judge!

James Graham at 20:20 on 16 July 2016  Report this post
Like others who have commented, I find this poem disturbing, but some of the best modern poetry is intended to disturb. It has a powerful impact.
I very much like the fact that the identity of the killers is unspecified. We have countless reports of the killing of civilians, including children, people just trying to live their lives, in (often, perhaps always) unnecessary wars. The poem embraces all these atrocities; the reader can range over many of them – children in Iraq, Palestine, the attack in Nice etc – and see that this is about all children everywhere. It’s better generalised than specific: something that focused on a single child in Palestine, say, wouldn’t be as open to the reader. This allows the reader to supply what is not stated, to think about a whole range of murderous acts by different agencies.
Then the central idea of the poem, the juxtaposition of the Lord’s Prayer with the child’s heartbreaking questions. Each question relates to the words of the prayer, sometimes obliquely, sometimes shockingly direct:
And forgive us our trespasses
“What did I do wrong Daddy?”
My response to your interspersing of the prayer with the words of the child, is that it makes the prayer seem complacent, indifferent to human tragedy, even irrelevant. Not only the prayer, but the religion it represents. There’s acceptance in it – ‘Thy will be done’, which is a withdrawal from human responsibility for others. There’s self-satisfaction in spades – we are the favoured people, God will make sure we never go hungry, he will forgive us, he will deliver us (but not necessarily others) from evil.
The word ‘trespass’ strikes me , in this poem, as a smug understatement: any wrong we do is minor. Who could call the slaughter of children a ‘trespass’?
The ending, in which the child is totally and forever lost, greatly increases the impact. It made me angry as much as disturbed. It’s pointless to pray to God to save the precious lives of children; we humans must work to protect them and defeat those who squander life in this way.
Just one couplet gave me pause.
As we forgive those who trespass against us
“I didn’t hurt anyone Daddy”
Would it not be better to have the child say something like ‘It’s hard to forgive them Daddy’ or even ‘But they killed me Daddy’ which may be a more meaningful ‘response’ to those particular words of the prayer? Some may disagree with this, but in my view, while the child is instantly forgivable the perpetrators do not deserve forgiveness. They should be brought to justice, and punished. Why should the child forgive them?
If there’s anything in the above you would like to discuss, please get back to me. This is a poem of real distinction.

Zettel at 01:49 on 17 July 2016  Report this post
Thanks to everyone for your very generous comments.  I always feel a little uncertain about trying to write a poem about such events. It is a paradox that our first reaction is almost always - "words simply cannot.....there are no words adequate to..... etc; and yet we sometimes still feel driven to try to find some words that mark, recognize, testify to the importance of the events and depth of feeling of repugnance, anger and sense of despair such events arouse in all of us. The same uncertainty led to me thinking a while before I posted the poem.  One special value of your kind commments is to make me feel reassured about first writing it and then sharing it. Such a poem can never be 'good enough' but if what it expresses finds echoes in others' hearts and minds, then there is much comfort in that for which I am grateful.

James' comments capture accurately the spirit that drove the writing of the poem. I think deeper even than our horror and repugnance, is a sense of profound bewilderment that any human being could not just commit such an act, but more chillingly, plan it and even seek to justify it.  This induces a perplexity so profound that not just words but thought itself fails us.

Religions appear to offer metaphysical narratives that seek to place such events into what I can only describe as a supernatural context. It is my philosophical despair at this move that drives the poem and my profound distrust of religions.  Such events should not be explained, still less justified: for to do so is to 'rationalise' them and thereby bring them back within the framework of normal human experience. The chilling fallacy in this way of tthinking is of course that precisely the same argument forms that religion offers to provide a metaphysical 'explanation' of such events, are used by the perpetrators and their supporters to justify the acts.

No. Deeply uncomfortable though it is, such acts, such events should be determinedly excluded, left outside our human experience. Nothing should count as a rationalisation, explanation or justification. As you have identified James, it is precisely this logical, philosophical error that the most famous prayer in the world falls into. "God's Will be done!!!!!!!!!!?????????" My juxtapositions are intended precisely to collide these sometimes hideously mistaken, complacent rationalisations with the pure, unadorned, unknowing voice of total innocence.   I am supposed to be going to a conference on the Philosophy of Religion in September but I may cry off as I am afraid of my reaction if in relation to events like NIce some unshakably committed person of religion should start talking about 'God's Will', or 'Original sin' or any of the other Metaphysical madnesses of all organised religions but especially the 'next world' Abrahamic religions of the 'books'. These are the absolutist, obsessional, irrefutable 'truths' than can turn some already distrurbed people into mass murderers - as history more than adequately demonstrates.

My little poem is meant to resist explanation, rationalisation. Nothing must be allowed to count as an explanation or rationalisation of such acts and events. It is meant to show, not tell. They must hang there, unexplained, utterly devastating, never losing their power to repel. To embrace them within rational thought is to invite rationalisation; and thence to  explanation and so to the obscenity of justification. Such acts and those who perpetrate them cannot, must not be embraced within ethical debate: for such debate is only possible within the context of shared human experience from which the perpetrators definitively, by their action, have for ever excluded themselves. How shall we tell ISIS they are 'wrong'?; how persuade a psychotic Jihadist his/her ideas, actions are not 'justified'?

Even religions with sanctions that recognize this permanent exclusion shamefully fail to apply them: why was no IRA murderer ex-communicated from the Catholic Church? If religious groups will not exclude such individuals as  the Nice killer then we must implacably place them outside the community of human beings and forever leave them there.

This rather, as usual long-winded response  indicates James why I'd rather leave the stanza you mention as "I didn't hurt anyone Daddy" is a simple innocent cry of pain and bewilderment whereas words like 'forgive' imply an element of judgement from within an ethical framework; as indirectly does "but (sic) they killed me Daddy".

Events like Nice occupy a place outside shared human experience and ethics. The paradigm of these is of course the Holocaust. Some idiot film-makers have tried to dramatise the Holocaust - how on earth does one add drama to such events? 

I hope this makes some kind of sense. It is not an attempt to 'explain' the poem just to clarify the kind of thought processes behind it. In the end, if it is any good, it will resonate differently with different people.

Thanks again for all your comments.


V`yonne at 09:40 on 17 July 2016  Report this post
“I didn’t hurt anyone Daddy”

has a defiance about it I like. This is a young life resisiting -- resisting death and the futility of death and the forgivness demanded by religion. That line is, in my view, perfect. Don't change a thing I say.


"My little poem" -- It's H U G E ! It's succinct but mighty!

Zettel at 10:20 on 17 July 2016  Report this post
Thanks V'yonne. 

I must apologise to you all: I'm embarrassed at how LONG my response was. Once I get going..........



James Graham at 20:21 on 18 July 2016  Report this post
Zettel, far from being too long your reply is enlightening. I find I agree with all you say about religion. Recalling my schooldays when every morning we began with an ensemble recitation of the Lord’s Prayer, it now seems an invidious ritual of brainwashing – or rather, of mind pollution. I have for many years been, like you, highly critical and mistrustful of all religion, most of all Christianity because it’s the one I know best by far. Many things in the Bible repel me. To give one example, God’s words to Eve on the expulsion from Eden: ‘I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children.’ This is awful. It contains both the false concept of Original Sin, but also initiates the subordination of women – as, of course, other religions have done. But in the case of the Lord’s Prayer – perhaps under school influence – until now I have let it be and not questioned it. Your juxtaposition of the prayer, phrase by phrase, with the dead child’s innocence, is a very powerful means of freeing us from the curse of familiarity with this and other religious texts.
As for the need to exclude such acts as the Nice killings from rationalisation, I think that philosophically this is absolutely right. Our best response to them is to avoid rationalisation and focus on punishment. Work to build an international law enforcement system which is capable of catching the perpetrators and punishing them. There is no debate as to the wickedness of what they do, and no justifcation is remotely acceptable. However, is there any harm in scientific investigation? I mean specifically investigation into how religion feeds psychosis and brings psychotics to carry out such acts. And the role of religion in fostering hatred even in those who are not psychotic. If we could objectively investigate these things while maintaining our implacable condemnation, and determination to punish, the actual perpetrators, would that not be worthwhile?
Your comment does make clear your thought process which led to the poem. The poem does, as it should, resist rationalisation, and it does ‘show, not tell’. It communicates on another level – unforgettably. And of course you must leave that stanza as it is.

Zettel at 01:55 on 19 July 2016  Report this post

Thanks again for the time and thought you commit to these poems; others as well as mine. It is always useful to consider your always perceptive thinking and recommendations.  Our empathy on religious matters has emerged before and as we both run against the ubiquitous socio-political power of religious social norms it is good to have company.

I am entriely in favour of scientific investigation of the brain: as long as the investigators are alive to the philosophical truth that the brain is not the 'mind' and respect that distinction throughout. Sadly many scientists in the fields of neuroscience, psychology, and social-psychology for example not only constantly conflate the two, they appear unaware that 'brain-laguage' and 'mind-language' are distinctly different and occupy different roles in our personal and social lives.  For me, the job of science is to with constant rigour, better and better describe our world  and produce verifiable laws within which that description can be generalised. Many scientists are shamefully ignorant of 20th century philosophy which is not true of most competent moderrn philosophers' attitude to science.  The first leads to a blindness to the importance of care in the language used to express scientific findings and laws; and an impatient dismissal of the arguments of Philosophers with a pretty sound understanding of the principle of modern science.

What Philosophers since Wittgenstein have understood is that language is a treacherous 2-edged sword in the possible ways it can be used, manipulated and abused. Wittgenstein's dictum:

"My task in Philosophy is to prevent the bewitchment of our intelligence by language".

e.g If I understand the scientifically established properties of liquids, including water; and the effects of temperature upon them then it appears I can answer the question: 'why does water become ice when cooled below 32 degrees F? Yet in fact my account is a decription, explanation of how water becomes ice. The complex grammar of 'why' includes using it to mean exactly the same as 'how'. Yet in a another, perfectly valid sense the correct answer to 'why does water become ice when cooled below 32 degrees F?' is "because it does". (In Wittgenstein's terms 'why' is used here in 2 different 'language games' and therefore with a different meaning) And the possibility of using the immensely powerful scientifc method to establish descriptive rules and laws depends upon the basic fact that the world is the way it is - 'because it is'; that is reacts the way it does 'because it does' 

'Why is the world the way it is?' unless one means an account in terms of the type 'how do things happen?'; is not a scientific question at all.  But that's another (philosophical) story.  This seems like nitpicking until we look to the language we should use to try to answer a question like 'why did he kill his wife?' It makes all the difference if this question is investigated in a neuroscience lab or a court of law: the one is looking for causes, the other for 'reasons'. In the inexorable drive to reductionism that is science, what disappears, of necessity is all the things most important in the court of law - intention, pre-meditation, motivation, emotion, jealousy. responsibility, blame etc.

I think you can see therefore why philosophically I entirely accept the importance you stress upon scientific investigation but what is most important is remaining clear about the above distinction for at its heart is a profoundly difficult question of whether reductive arguments remove all meaning to ideas like responsibility, guilt, blame, cruelty, and yes, even evil. To put it paradoxically if science ever gave a comprehensive causal account of 'evil' there woul be no 'evil' left in it.

The language that permits us to express love, truth, devotion etc; is also the same language with and through which we lie and cheat and deceive.

There I go again.....of on one....... I really must get out more, and get a life.

As ever - regards



V`yonne at 08:07 on 19 July 2016  Report this post
Yes there are all manner of weays in which we make sense of the world and each makes sense ins a different way none of which are conclusive -- thank goodness one of them is poetry laugh

Bazz at 13:15 on 19 July 2016  Report this post
Great to see so much feedback here. What's so good about this poem is that it gives voice to something, enables us to feel something too raw to really understand...

I also thought

As we forgive those who trespass against us
“I didn’t hurt anyone Daddy”

was a key line, because this is a piece about innocence. The bewilderment, confusion, is well caught here, especially with this line, making it all the more painful too read...

Zettel at 20:32 on 19 July 2016  Report this post
I suppose:

Philosophers seek generality
Scientists seek certainty
Poets are are content with mystery

Each if they are any good - seek truth

Wittgenstein: "it is not how the world is that is the mystical - but that it is"



James Graham at 20:11 on 20 July 2016  Report this post
You make the distinction very clearly and I take the point. It’s sound thinking. To my regret my education didn’t include philosophy, so I don’t feel qualified to discuss this in any depth. It’s probably not even necessary to say more on this point.
Something we have established, though: rational discourse can take us a long way on this subject, but the different mode of expression exemplified by your poem goes to the very heart of it.

Zettel at 14:21 on 22 July 2016  Report this post
Thanks James

The great thing about Wittgenstein's influence on philosophy and our understanding of language is that he believes, argues for,  the fact that language begins with human instincts and action, from which shared language and later rationalisation eventually emerges; remaining always dependent upon how language lives and breathes, and develops organically within our lives and relationships to one another. Indeed he once wrote that we should write philosophy as we would write a poem.  He was greatly impressed by Goethe's dictum:

"In the beginning was the deed"        (not, note, the 'word').



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