Poetry Friday Golden Shovel and Painting


I have a Golden Shovel poem for Poetry Friday. The poem was inspired by Maya Angelou’s Caged Bird. I used the second stanza lines from Maya Angelou’s poem to create my poem. I’m also including a portion of Caged Bird below and you can read the rest of it at the Poetry Foundation

SONGS OF TRUTH Golden Shovel

Mama I know truth, but
how do I know a
lie? I know how a bird
sings, its beautiful song that
stretches across tall stalks,
spreading over the earth, tumbling down
ravines and valleys full of his
showering sunshine. But what of the narrow
no-light passages, do lies live in this cage?
What about my friend, can
I trust him; does he know truth? He seldom
listens to the bird’s song. What does he see
when he looks through
his own eyes? Does he see his
friend? Does he see me, or does he see bars
that are blocking the light of
truth and bringing on his rage.
How can I help him see his
shining light through the wings
of the bird? Are
his wings clipped
short too? And
how can we be friends when his
body is tethered to the ground, and his feet
won’t listen to his heart. Lie, are
you near, let go­–do not be tied
to my friend, we so
long to hear the song of the bird together, he
has shunned the bars, and opens
his heart, his
voice, and throat
longing now to

© 2017 Michelle Kogan

A free bird leaps
on the back of the wind   
and floats downstream   
till the current ends
and dips his wing
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.
But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and   
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.
The caged bird sings   
with a fearful trill   
of things unknown   
but longed for still   
and his tune is heard   
on the distant hill   
for the caged bird   
sings of freedom.
The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn
and he names the sky his own 
I’ve been reading two books that have sections on Maya Angelou. One is,  Parting the Curtains, Interviews with Southern Writers. The second one is, Fight Like a Girl, 50 Feminists Who Changed the World. I’m sharing a few quotes from the second book by Maya Angelou.
“I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.”
“You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody”
The Poetry Friday Roundup is being hosted by Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche, be sure to stop by her blog for what she’s offering up, and also for more poems. Thanks for hosting Margaret!


About Michelle Kogan Art, Illustration, & Writing

Michelle Kogan is an artist, illustrator, instructor, and writer, creating colorful allegorical figure, flora and fauna paintings and children's illustrations, which have a sensitivity to endangered species, and the environment. She is an art instructor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Evanston Art Center and offers Plein Air Painting Workshops at nature venues in the Chicago area including the Lincoln Park Conservatory, Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, and Lurie Gardens at Millennium Park. Visit her online Etsy Shop at: http://www.MichelleKoganFineArt.etsy.com and her website: http://www.michellekogan.com
This entry was posted in Children's Illustration & Writing, Nature, Painting, Plein Air Art, Poem, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Poetry Friday Golden Shovel and Painting

  1. Trini Lind says:

    Oh, yay! This is is so lovely!! 💖💖💖. I particularly adore the art work! 😊😊😊

  2. A great take on a favorite poem of mine. Lovely painting, too. I’m glad you didn’t clasp your bird in irons. I mused on truth this week, too. I see a lot of poets finding that topic relevant.

  3. margaretsmn says:

    I saw this post in my in box yesterday but didn’t open it. If I had I would have had a moment of panic, but then I could have gotten my post up earlier. I hate it when I forget and this is the second time! My post is up now for you to link to.
    I love your golden shovel and the questions it asks. I see students who are trapped in the lie they’ve created about themselves. Even at such a young age.
    And Maya Angelou is on my top ten list of poets of all time. Good for you for having the bravery to use her words. Your art is truly amazing. When is your next picture book coming out? I’d love to hold your images in my hands.

  4. Your poem “golden shovel” compliments Angelou’s poem perfectly, Michelle! “does he see bars
    that are blocking the light of
    truth and bringing on his rage.” – Wow! Truth is so necessary, but scarce these days. =)

  5. lindabaie says:

    There are others who are speaking about truth today. I love this almost “mirror” of Maya Angelou’s poem, the plaintive call of each, the words reaching out to inspire. And I love your painting too, always pleasing to see. I would hope that everyone learns to ‘open their heart’.

  6. Monica says:

    Very well done!

  7. What a beautiful painting, and an equally beautiful poem to match. 🙂

  8. What a huge challenge you set for yourself, Michelle! It’s hard enough writing a short golden shovel, let alone one of this magnitude.

    For me, this is the heart of it:

    how can we be friends when his
    body is tethered to the ground, and his feet
    won’t listen to his heart.


  9. dmayr says:

    Applause all around for your poem, painting, and post! And, for including this quote, which more people would be advised to take to heart: ““You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody”

  10. Beautiful–both your poem and artwork. It’s been a while since I’ve read anything by Angelou. I think it’s time to visit her again.

  11. Donna Smith says:

    I’ve seen people in this predicament. Do they not believe when their heart tells them? Do they think ‘even my heart lies’ and cannot be depended upon?
    “He seldom / listens to the bird’s song.” Therein lies the problem.
    A beauty of a post today!

  12. maryleehahn says:

    Wow. It’s quite arresting to come to this poem from Catherine’s Mary Oliver poem about listening to mockingbirds…what a contrast!

  13. Laura Shovan says:

    It’s so cool to see how this form creates paired poems. Thanks for sharing this!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s