Poetry Friday: LIFE’S BREATH

Life's Breath poem on sun background 6-4-29-2020

Happy Poetry Friday!

My poem comes from reflecting on this past week. I chose to try an “In One Word”  poetry form, that was introduced to us two weeks ago by April Halperin Wayland at her blog Teaching Authors. It’s been popping up at different poet friend’s blogs since then, including Linda Baie, Margaret Simon, and probably more that I’ve missed. In this form you select a word and then find words within this word to build your poem from. April also suggested we use the site: Wordmaker, where they generate all the words that can come from your one word.

I chose my olw (one little word) which is breathe. There are 104 words that come from breathe, I used 6 of them as the ending word in each line. 


Life needs breath 
to live to breathe… 
Life needs earth 
for hearts to beat

But… When breath breathes hate 
anger rips bodies bare

When breath breathes hate  
desires and dreams are beat

When breath breathes hate 
prejudice kills life’s breath

Breath needs to breathe… 
Fairly, justly, for all on earth, 
for filling hearts 
with hope and passion… to just be…

 Breath must breathe…

© 2020 Michelle Kogan

My daughter, Rachel Dohner, has been passing on articles and sites for alternative ways to get involved if you can’t join a march. Here are some of them to read, sign, and participate in, in some way. I haven’t gotten through all yet…

     •   Follow the national youth poet laureate, Kara Jackson, (Chicago, IL) on instagram                 @fridahalo. she posts a lot on her instagram and story about activism and
specifically about the protests and what is going on right now.
     •  A further list of reading material https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/#educate



Margaret Simon at her blog REFLECTIONS ON THE TECHE is hosting this weeks Poetry Friday roundup, thanks Margaret! Margaret is sharing a letter, golden shovel poem to her students on kindness, be sure to stop by.

Visit Renée LaTulippe’s site No Water River to find out more about what Poetry Friday is.



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
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18 Responses to Poetry Friday: LIFE’S BREATH

  1. lindabaie says:

    I didn’t realize you wrote from one word until I read after the poem, which had such a breathing rhythm, Michelle, (hint in the word work, too) that I had to read it aloud. It’s lovely, Michelle. Thanks for the lists you recommend. There are many, a good thing!

  2. Uplifting post from your beautiful poem from April /Teaching Authors all the way through to your daughter’s links . Cheers
    To Youth Poets & Chicago. xox

  3. cvarsalona says:

    Michelle, your post is comprehensive and tightly packaged focusing on the current crisis. If the pandemic was not enough we now have nationwide civil unrest. Thank you for your voice.
    We Need
    one word,
    one breath,
    one hope
    to unite
    one world

  4. janicescully says:

    Thank you, Michelle, for your poem about breath and for the list of places to donate. That was very helpful.

  5. margaretsmn says:

    I love what you have done with the word Breathe. Whp knew that the word hate was embedded? You have turned the churning of our hearts into a poem. I can’t help but have the image of George Floyd in my head when I read, “Breath needs to breathe…” No one has the right to take away our breath, our life. Thanks for sharing.

  6. jama says:

    Thanks for your poem reflecting on the week’s tragic events. The word “breathe” certainly has taken on expansive connotations. “Breath breathes hate” is so powerful as it’s repeated in your poem. Matters of life and death, and ironically, in the midst of the pandemic, when we wear masks to prevent our breaths from spreading disease.

  7. Michelle Heidenrich Barnes says:

    I love that this post is both passionate and practical, Michelle. (Perfect musical selection too!) I’m breathing it all in so that I can pay it forward. Love and thanks to you and Rachel.

  8. Thank you for all the goodness in this post, Michelle. I will be back to take my time following all the links your daughter has curated. 🙂

  9. Mitchell Linda says:

    Wow! Michelle this is beautiful and smart and so current. I love what you’ve done with breathe. I want to try this now.

  10. You used your breathe options to excellent effect, Michelle.There is a circular, in and out rhythm that is very fitting. Thanks for the list of actions and the pointer towards our youth laureate.

  11. haitiruth says:

    Your OLW this year turned out to have SO many resonances – a virus that makes breathing difficult, the “I can’t breathe” of police brutality… Thanks for your poem! Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com

  12. mbhmaine says:

    Thank you for your poem, Michelle. It’s a great example of a “one word” poem, timely, and clearly heartfelt. The repetition works so well here. Thank you also for sharing such a rich list of resources.

  13. Ooh, I love the watercolor background. I’m kind of sad to see that “hate” is one of the words that can be made from “breathe.” Isn’t that silly? But you’ve used it to great impact in this poem. I haven’t tried a one word poem yet. Soon…

  14. maryleehahn says:

    Thank you for this call to action to use our breaths to combat hate. Love the feeling of breathing you gave in your poem. Thanks for all the links.

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