‘Where We Find Ourselves’: Juan Felipe Herrera’s poem on the shooting at UCLA

Juan Felipe Herrera
(Tomas Ovalle / For the Times)

After news broke that there had been a shooting attack at UCLA Wednesday, the campus was swarmed by law enforcement officers and we later learned that professor William Klug had been killed killed by a former student, who then took his own life). U.S. poet laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, who earned his bachelor’s degree in anthropology at UCLA in 1972, composed this poem, “Where We Find Ourselves.”

Where We Find Ourselves
In memory of professor William Klug
and the students of UCLA, 6-1-16

There are

“small massacres” now — yes

it is true, this place where we find



we put up bluish

plastic chairs, angled desks

glassy projectors against the door

the door, yes — it is all

we scramble with our hands

up in the air & we, well wait

we wait to be that leaf outside

it still moves & this tree splintered

singing despite its scattered nectars

— with all life at

the core of all things

& we are —


this trembling world.

– Juan Felipe Herrera
Poet Laureate of the United States



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