When is Daddy Coming Back?

Death row inmate Marcus Robinson listens in 2012 as a judge concludes that racial bias played a role when he was sentenced to death. Robinson was resentenced to life, but he was sent back to death row years later after the state's Racial Justice Act was repealed. (RALEIGH NEWS & OBSERVER / MCT VIA GETTY IMAGES).

A Poem about Racial Injustice
By Hannah M. Childs

Hannah is a freshman at Northwest High School in Cincinnati, Ohio. She enjoys writing, drawing, playing the piano, singing and spending time with her brother watching anime.

The grass was green, the pond was blue, I was happy, and my daddy was too.
He looked at me and smiled, I did the same.
This was truly a happy day.
Flashing lights approached us, red and blue, Those lights were beautiful, I would later regret thinking.
A man came out in blue, he seemed mean.
My daddy smiled at me and talked to the man for a while, Until he never came back.
He went with the man, with his hands behind his back.
I wonder, when is daddy coming back?
Mama ran to me, in tears, yelling something awful.
I went home, confused and curious, Mama went home, angry and on the phone.
When is daddy coming back?
Days passed, then weeks, he still didn’t come back.
Months passed, my heart filled with anger, Our dad left us, for the man in blue.
Mama cried, I cried too.
We did not know what to do.
Months later, we went to a room, A big room, with lots of people, A big man sat in a big chair, he had a hammer.
A lady asked, how old are you? I put two fingers up.
Tears went down her face, I wondered why? I then saw daddy, I smiled.
I knew he didn’t leave us after all.
Daddy looked at me with sadness in his eyes, but he still smiled. I was in that room, for days it seemed.
Too much talking, I couldn’t understand any of it.
Then I heard the big man with the hammer say GUILTY!
He slammed that hammer with a passion.
I jumped from my seat and saw mama crying loudly.
Mama jumped up and yelled, she yelled louder than before.
I covered my ears, I was scared.
Everything went like a blur, too much was going on.
But one thing I remember was seeing mama.
She was lying on the floor, and she said one thing to me.
Baby, your daddy is gone.
It wasn’t until my days got shorter, and I got older, I truly understood what she meant.
Daddy didn’t leave us, the blue man took him away from us, For no reason whatsoever.


  1. This poem is very powerful and it has allot of meaning. As I was reading this I could picture these scenes playing out. It also shows the innocence in the child and I feel like some parents relate with not wanting their child to witness and understand the bad things and even through it all her father seemed happy for her.

  2. That poem left a chilling affect for a child to witness an act just as that. It also goes to show how a justice system that was intended to protect us can keep us separate.

  3. This poetry was really emotional and intense. Because of the tremendous detail and vivid imagery, I was able to readily visualize the succession of events in my brain while reading it. This, I believe, would come to light as part of a deeper knowledge of what people with jailed family members go through, and how this may have influenced their attitudes toward law enforcement.

  4. This article was so powerful and emotional. It showed us the emotional trauma through a child’s eyes because of law enforcement and court. One comment mentioned the child losing part of their innocence which really stuck with me and the knowledge of the kid being 2 years old

  5. I cannot help but think about how powerful and emotional of a poem this was. The innocence of her waiting for her father to return is so sad. I cannot imagine as a child, enduring this type of pain and abandonment from law enforcement. Unfortunately, this is something that my fiancé experienced in his childhood and still has so many unanswered questions and it hurts to know that we do not have answers to tell our children when they get old enough to question ancestors.

  6. After reading this emotional poem, I just happened to think about all the children that have been in this situation. I know for myself that I have been in a situation where I did not know when I was going to see my father again. Mine was more on the aspect of my parent separation. I was thankfully older and semi-understood the reason we were going to court. It did not help with the feeling of abandonment thorough.

  7. From the perspective of a young child, you can feel the confusion she felt with what was going on. With thinking that her father left her. When, in reality, he was taken from them. Unlawfully detained and sent away for what? The color of his skin. So many young African American children never get to know their fathers because of how common incarceration is in their community.

  8. This was quite an emotional and passionate poem. While reading it, I could easily picture the series of events in my head due to the incredible detail and powerful imagery. I could also feel the emotions the little girl and her mother were feeling. I agree with one of the comments that although the child is only two, she is losing a piece of her innocence by losing her father to law enforcement. I think this could be a great piece to share in class as unfortunately, some of our students may be able to relate to this in their own lives. This poem could give them a sense that they are not alone, but also shed some light towards the inequality within our justice system and insight the need for change within our students. Overall, it was a beautifully written piece. Well done!

  9. This was an immensely powerful piece. I found it incredibly sad to read. Throughout the piece it is interesting to read about how innocence is lost in sense. This is brought up through the idea of the pretty lights, seeing her dad again, her father still smiling, etc. it is a powerful piece that brings in the controversial ideas of law enforcement. I think that this is something that would come to light in understanding what people with incarcerated family go through, in order to better understand how this may have contributed to their beliefs about law enforcement. Negative interactions lead to negative reactions.

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