California Poet Laureate Launches Poem for Newtown, Conn.

Unity Poetry Wall project by UC Riverside’s Juan Felipe Herrera invites Americans to express their thoughts about the Dec. 14 mass shooting

Juan Felipe Herrera

Juan Felipe Herrera, California Poet Laureate

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — As Americans grapple with the horrific deaths of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., California Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera has created a nationwide unity poem project to help express what the country is feeling.

“Let’s put our efforts into ending violence wherever it may rise,” Herrera, a professor of creative writing at the University of California, Riverside, wrote on his Facebook page, where contributions to the Unity Poetry Wall for Newtown, Conn., reside.

The California Poet Laureate’s poem, “Little Ones We Carry You,” launches the project. By the morning of Monday, Dec. 17, nearly two dozen individuals had contributed their thoughts as well, some in Spanish, most in English. A selection of these verses follow Herrera’s.

Submissions may be made on Herrera’s Facebook page or sent to him at

Little Ones We Carry You

Little ones we carry you with our hearts today and tomorrow
Many tomorrows – we will be there with you
Whether we have flowers or poems or prayers
With our hands our bodies somehow
We will touch the earth for you and the rain and the green winds
We will sing for you and your teachers who covered you
And your principal who protected you and your mothers
Fathers sisters brothers all who are one now
We will become them we will become you somehow
As we grow we will grow for you and embrace each other
The songs from your sky hearts will be the songs from our city hearts
Songs lighting your hands will be the songs lifting our hands
Somehow we contain you somehow you are here inside
Go up to the skies touching the infinite now
Little ones we carry you with our hearts today and tomorrow
This is our song
We will end the fire
Let us sing together

(For the children who perished at the Sandy Hook Elementary school shootings, and their teachers, staff, principal and the communities of Newtown, Conn. – 12/14/12)

Juan Felipe Herrera
California Poet Laureate

Little ones I carry you (in tears) when I hug my little girl extra tight
Erica Kohl-Arenas

Family and friends of the Little Ones, we embrace you from across the miles, hold your song of mourning in our hearts, grasp your hand and pray beside you in whatever way you pray.
Liz Gonzalez

Let us sing together
Our lives will play for u
We will work for u
We will work for the emerging we
That wants to break free
We remember you
as we work to heal
the pain of the world
the pain of past generations
and we begin anew, now
in this moment
this precious moment
this miraculous moment
of infinite possibility
Everardo Pedraza

Death blew into Sandy Hook like the wild winds of a tornado
Innocent kids taken away to early
Innocent kids given wings to sing along with the rest of the angels
Newton, Connecticut didn’t lose twenty kids
It gained twenty angels
Rolando Ortiz

Rayos de luz,
rayos del sol-
semillas fallecidas
semillas agradecidas.
Las memorias se convertirán en abundancias de amor.
(Translation: Rays of light, rays of the Sun — seed grateful dead seeds. The memories become abundances of love.)
Olivia Gonzalez

A shower of stars this night
glints a thinly-veiled peace.
We look to the heavens,
a blanket of pinpoint fires,
some zinging across the sky
some lit like song.
These are the beauties
we might have known.
Dini Karasik, for those we lost on December 14, 2012

Little ones,
There are no answers
No reasons
No explanations for the senseless act of one madman
Today, there is only sorrow
and pain
and tears
and darkness
Allisson Ramirez

Criss-cross applesauce,
a kindergarten story;
for Yeats this meant the phase
of childhood where impulse reigns,
before fate intervenes
with the knowledge of death.
Carol Dorf


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