Poems for Boston

California Poet Laureate and UC Riverside poetry students offer verses of condolence and hope in wake of Boston Marathon bombing

Juan Felipe Herrera

Students in Juan Felipe Herrera’s “Anatomy of Poetry” class have written poems to the people of Boston.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — As Americans everywhere struggle to make sense of Monday’s bombings at the Boston Marathon, student poets at the University of California, Riverside have written verses of condolence and hope to share with a city suffering from the physical and emotional devastation.

California Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, a professor of creative writing at UC Riverside, said students in his “Anatomy of Poetry” class were beginning an assignment to write poems as letters when they learned of the twin blasts.

Boston poem“We went outside into the cold. We formed a circle, 44 of us,” Herrera recalled. “We walked (around campus) and back into a circle. We lifted our hands. We let them go into the sky, and then we wrote.”

The result is a project the students are calling “Poems for the People of Boston.”

“When tragedies happen, that is a call for the poet to write, to speak and remember,” Herrera said. “I am doing this because I made a promise to Gov. (Jerry) Brown that I would call upon the people of California to express themselves through poetry. Everyone is a poet in the 21st century. We cannot wait to become poets; we must act now and be poets.”

Anyone who would like to submit a verse to the “Poems for the People of Boston” project may do so by emailing Herrera at juan.herrera@ucr.edu or posting on his Facebook wall.

Following is a sampling of poems Herrera and his students wrote:

 the runner

light            the spirit
that is
the kindness
to save all
to heal     all
through the world   oceans
the world weeps
for kindness
the runner
there is no  win   no loss
Juan Felipe Herrera
California Poet Laureate

Dear People of Boston,

I want to hold another marathon. This will be a different marathon, a marathon of hugging. I will be the finish line. I promise I won’t say a word; language doesn’t really mean anything anyways. It’s us embracing quietly on an April morning as the noise of the world goes on as usual that is true.

Michael O’Leary


The world is still good
there is still kindness in the hearts of most
using their light to guide their minds
and hearts, delicate ones that
shine with courage, don’t resort
to a painting dulled by hate
this world is not solely sullied
by the tar of the loveless
they are just a few
we are the majority and pull through.
Don’t forget Boston, the world is still good.
— Monica Arellano


The shock and tragedy that you have experienced,
we can only imagine.
We empathize and honor you during this moment of horror.
And we walk in support and recognition of the calamity that has befallen you
We are with you in spirit realizing that this
could just as well have happened to any of us.
And we weep for you.
May you have the strength to come through,
May your wounds and tragic loss heal.

with heartfelt condolences,
the poetry class of Prof. Herrera
Rita Gituku

Dear Boston,

Cold comsuming face
Sweater saving arms
Puma pants guarding legs
Yesterday you tripped

Chaos rattled runner’s paths
Quaking streets meant for triumph
Fogging finish lines

And I walked for you this morning
Walked with Kya, walked with Garrett
because some of you can’t, some won’t again

Our worries weren’t yours
but our steps were.
Joaquín Magos

Dear Boston,

You seem so far away from California on the map
But we have roads and highways that draw us together like a bridge
We have family members connected through telephone wires
Who come to visit for thanksgiving and Christmas
We have friends that were there for us when we needed a helping hand in Boston
We have footsteps of a nation born young that links us  together with the red, white, and blue
Boston, California stands in solidarity with you,
As citizens for justice, friends that care, family members that love,
and broken hearts that want to help heal yours after this tragedy
Boston , we’re here for you
we’re a shoulder to cry on and a hand to hold during this time and for all times
love, understanding, and  healing is all I wish you

With heart,
Alwail Ring

To the People of Boston:

The start of a race.
Trainers hitting skidded asphalt.
Safety and fear at mind.
Narrowly hitting one another as we rush through the course, as if we are in panic?
Are we in panic?
Should we be in panic?
Do we know of panic?
The hopes of finishing at the line, shattered by fear.
I look to the side lines for my dear.
Fear of the unknown waiting on the other side.
Maybe I might collapse at the line.
But these mighty limbs I once relied on, no more.
Let down. Given in. Pain. Trauma. Scars.
Physical and mental.
Life is forever changed.
— Brandon Liu

A Letter to the People of Boston

You were safe, not afraid
A marathon of joy, not fear
Until one white cloud
Changed everything
For a moment
Changed nothing
In the end
Because you’re still safe, unafraid
You are still more joy than fear
The white clouds,
Already dissipating
Can’t change that
In the end
Micaiah Johnson

A Letter to the People of Boston

A letter to the fallen,
The hurt and the confused.
A letter to the souls
Who were taken, killed, and used.

Blood lines the street
And debris fills the air.
Sky and Concrete meet.
Somewhere in the middle is despair.

Sadness fills the sidelines.
Sympathy engulfs the crowd.
Embrace the ones around you,
For love is the most important sound.
Danielle Onasch

Media Contact

Tel: (951) 827-7847
E-mail: bettye.miller@ucr.edu
Twitter: bettyemiller

Additional Contacts

Juan Felipe Herrera
E-mail: juan.herrera@ucr.edu

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