Humanist Voices in Verse: Helen Bennett

This week’s poem is by Helen Bennett. Helen is the author of Humanism, What’s That? A Book for Curious Kids (2005, Prometheus Books). Helen is president of the Humanists of Brevard and is a former high school and university English teacher, children’s librarian, and editor.

If you’d like to contribute original poetry to Humanist Voices in Verse, write to with “Poetry” in the subject line. Please send no more than three poems for consideration per week.



As I sat on the mountaintop
I prayed for release
From a world of pain
To a world of peace.
I dreamed that God appeared to me
And this is what He said:

“You are in my Presence
Though you aren’t even dead.
Do you think that I should grant your prayer,
That I should favor you?
What of all the others?
Weren’t they deserving too?
Those who died of cancer
When they were in their prime,
The thousands who contracted AIDS
And died before their time.
The victims of the Holocaust
And Oklahoma City,
Vietnam’s youngest citizens
Who perished with our pity.
The ones who died in slavery,
The children of Dunblane,
Do you think I turned an ear from them
And just ignored their pain?
Perhaps they were irreverent
And didn’t pray enough
When everything looked hopeless
And the going got rough?
Well, the fact is I can’t help you,
My beneficence is blind,
For I’m really not your Father
But a figment of your mind.
You can offer me thanksgiving
And then you will be blessed
By the goodness found in nature
And your gratitude expressed.
But do not ask for favors,
For the faithful of your kind
Have often not received them;
You must try to be resigned.
I can’t affect your family, your fortune,
Or your health;
In truth I cannot help you,
You can only help yourself.”

—Helen Bennett