Top of page

Nohemi—A Song for Paris

Share this post:

The following is a guest blog by Juan Felipe Herrera, the 21st Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry at the Library of Congress.

Nohemi Gonzalez is seen in a photo posted to Facebook by Strate-Ecole de Design.
Nohemi Gonzalez is seen in a photo posted to Facebook by Strate-Ecole de Design.

Sometimes all we have is the little song in our heart—the one responsible for lighting the way in times of trouble. The size of the trouble does not matter because the size of the little song is always larger than the size of the trouble—or tragedy. This little song we can call the poem—the tiny, brave crucible that carries our love into the universe. Here is my little song for what happened to one of our own, Nohemi Gonzalez from California State University in Long Beach, California, and to all that were killed and hurt in Paris, France—and—to all of those in the world suffering from these waves of terror. I invite you to write a little song from your hearts too. Your poem will make a difference that can cover the world. This little song from your heart will be an incredible first step.


Nohemi—a Song for Paris


Mimi—can I call you that

this is a song for you—


with candles we stand & we kneel

this is how it is now we

well all of us we

send you these flowers across time

this time here which we

cannot explain


all love goes to you

& your friends the other night

so many with you gone we

stand we play Lennon’s piano

Imagine—we say

a world without violence—

we want to imagine that in your name

Nohemi Gonzalez from El Monte

from Whittier California from

Cal State Long Beach—


we run out of words


the words

so many words your mamá

Beatríz your cousin Jacqueline

we know them now—for you


we write them a poem too

I do not know how we will do that

we are doing that—that is all

like the designs you made—for a high-spirited world

you said you were high-spirited, self-driven—yes

like the dreams you had

& the words First Generation

the ones you used to

describe              your life


we continue with you—somehow

it is not important to know how

it is important to continue that is all

I must—say it again


we are all writing a poem

for you for your cousin Jacqueline

for your mamá Beatríz—she loved you

their love will make it alright

all of our love will make it alright          yes


here is your song Mimi—


We light Nohemi a candle

the candle waves across the stars

close they are so close because

Nohemi & Paris are in our hearts



Nohemi &

Paris—are in


our hearts

Comments (8)

  1. the gunmen opened fire
    the bullets flew
    129 dead
    one moment before , who knew

    they came to a festival
    among other things
    fall in Paris
    kinda makes your heart want to sing

    life will go on
    because it must
    but , you only have this moment
    give it all you’ve got

  2. tears will be shed
    hugs will be given
    the dead will forever
    influence the lives of the living

    children will be born
    will be told about it
    will say I need to be a party of the solution
    good will come of this

    they will grow up
    wanting to protect other folks
    good will be the response to evil
    as the Lord said thousands of years ago


    they will raise children
    who will want to be like mom and dad
    see a world in need of hope
    remember the upbringing they had

    teaching , medicine , military too
    chances to help everyday through
    lessons taught by mom and dad
    children remember the life long teachers they have

    those children will have children
    know what mom and dad taught , too
    the violence of ONE NIGHT IN PARIS
    the motivation to help humanity , true

  4. My name is Noemi Santana Gonzalez
    so Nohemi’s death brushed against my spirit
    as I earnestly spent Saturday reaching out
    across the ocean to friends and souls I had just left
    whose many destinations had jumbled in my head —
    Did she go to Paris or was he on his way?
    Is it better to not see the faces or
    to have a smile reach out to you from a photo — now frozen?
    Can you say “rest in peace” to those who so violently went down?
    Nohemi in love with life, with Paris, so young — so short your time — for what and why was your role here?
    May yours and all the fallen light in all a fire
    to end this senseless loss of life and world in fear.

  5. To The Words, by W. S. Merwin

    When it happens you are not there
    O you beyond numbers
    beyond recollection
    passed on from breath to breath

  6. A Sudden Pause

    From Sea to Shining; we
    Connect with what media curators
    Put before us and personalize, tears
    Terror infested with fears
    We, unite in silos of mirrored
    Reflected emotions,
    Not unanimous nor anonymous
    in media social and vitriolic
    Everyday innocents is taken
    In the name of belief
    Made homeless on earth
    Passions put guns in hands
    Where hearts have broken
    Minds with numbing chatter

    Some petition to refuse refuge
    Some declare words make-a-difference
    Some do not want to talk about ‘it’
    Some deep in pretense draw analogies
    Some fabricate, Some ridicule, Some look for
    A punch line that drones will navigate

    Valued more than life, takes lives
    Neighbor and stranger, alike
    Hope and Despair taengo

  7. Nohemi is gone
    but not at all abandoned
    God and we love her

    C L Couch

  8. Names

    They all had them.
    There were proper nouns
    to describe their singularity,
    their uniqueness in this shit
    of adverbs and adjectives.
    When you are shot
    your body empties itself
    of blood, of everything
    even your soul.
    Sing a song of names
    of Gonzalez and Nunez
    and so many others,
    a song of their names.

Comments are closed.