Poetry Friday: Bittersweet Lemons


Happy Poetry Friday! There was a request put out from our Poetry Friday Roundup host Lisa, for making lemonade out of lemons. So here is my take on that request to liven up all of us in the Northern part of the USA as our temps rapidly drop. Visit Lisa at her tumbler site Steps and Staircases for this weeks Roundup. Thanks for hosting Lisa, and thanks for the request I had fun with it!


Bewaaare the lemon,
it’s tree has thorns,
like it’s distant
relative the rose.

It streams in
without any warning,
and its sting is
as biting as a bee.

It’s determined
to unsettle your
“flowery sweet”
heart strings.

But… If you
to the

Find the beauty in
their lollygagging, and
the balance they bring
if used gingerly.

Give those lemons
a second chance.
Sweeten them up,
welcome their sourness

when savoring
some lemonade!

© Michelle Kogan


Here’s a lemon poem by Pablo Neruda. You can read the rest of his beautiful poem at the Poem Hunter

by Pablo Neruda

Out of lemon flowers
on the moonlight, love’s
lashed and insatiable
sodden with fragrance,
the lemon tree’s yellow
the lemons
move down
from the tree’s planetarium

Delicate merchandise!
The harbors are big with it-
for the light and the
barbarous gold.
We open
the halves
of a miracle,
and a clotting of acids
into the starry
original juices,
irreducible, changeless,
so the freshness lives on
in a lemon,
in the sweet-smelling house of the rind,
the proportions, arcane and acerb.


While thinking about all these lemony thoughts I kept on humming this song… 

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 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, Home, Nature, Painting, pen sketch, Poem, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

34 Responses to Poetry Friday: Bittersweet Lemons

  1. Laura Shovan says:

    I’m giggling about your lollygagging lemons, Michelle!

  2. Clever. this is my favourite staza:
    Find the beauty in
    their lollygagging, and
    the balance they bring
    if used gingerly.

    Oh, and I’m singing along to the song now, which I remember first encountering in an episode of F-Troop. THAT was a while ago.

  3. Donna Smith says:

    Thanking you today for your Winter Exchange package!!

    • Hi Donna, you’re very welcome! I wanted to write about an animal or nature for you as you seem very interested in both–So I researched critters in your neck of the woods, and came up with the Wood Turtle.
      The mini writing journal is a brand new one with a special stitch, and I’ll be posting it soon in my Etsy Shop.

  4. I love your stinging, lollygagging lemons. Lovely! And Neruda’s house of rind. Happy Friday!

  5. I love these lemons! These poems bring back memories of visiting my brother in Phoenix and picking lemons off the tree in his backyard to make lots of lemonade

  6. jama says:

    Lip puckering post, Michelle. I love lemons!!

  7. margaretsmn says:

    Oh, no! Lemon Tree is an ear worm. I didn’t even click on the video and it’s going on in my head. Love your lemony painting and tart poem to match!

  8. lindabaie says:

    Thinking of lemons “bringing balance” is a wonderful thought, Michelle, and I also love Neuda’s “sodden with fragrance” and the painting always!

  9. Lemons are rather special to me, so I love your painting with its touchable texture…and I thank you for leading me to Neruda’s poem. That’s a wow!

  10. Wonderful poem. And I love the lollygagging stanza, too. It’s delightful! And your art is beautiful! The bee adds a special element to the poem and the art.

  11. I like both these poems, and the song, too. I used to sing the song to my kids as babies. 🙂

  12. katswhiskers says:

    And here I’d always thought it was lollygaggling. :\ (I think the ‘l’ adds a certain something.) Such a fresh and zesty picture, Michelle. Perfect for your lemony poem. I do so love your second chance stanza. It reminds me of some dear people I’ve known, who are sweet, once you soften their sour exterior.

  13. Mmmm… love the lemony lip-puckering poems, Michelle! Fun version of the song, too. I grew up listening to the Peter, Paul and Mary version which is somewhat less perky. 🙂

  14. Lisa says:

    Michelle, Thank you for the original lemon art. The song was new to me! I love this stanza:
    “Give those lemons/
    a second chance./
    Sweeten them up,/
    welcome their sourness”
    Thank you for all you packed into your response to this lemon prompt–art, original poem, Pablo Neruda, and a song!

    • Thanks Lisa, I always enjoy poem prompts–they often have you writing in areas you may not have, and we need a lot more lemonade these days too! BTW I liked your strong, yet sensitive poem and image–the luminescent light is beautiful! I didn’t know where to leave a comment. I look forward to reading more of your poems.

  15. Tabatha says:

    I didn’t realize that lemon trees have thorns! Thanks for teaching me something, Michelle. I love your painting, and “We open/
    the halves/
    of a miracle”

  16. maryleehahn says:

    I love the way the poems in your painting fairly glow! Yum! Liquid sunshine!!

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 )

Google photo

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

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s