Poetry Friday: “BAYOU SONG” Book Review & Roundup


Happy Poetry Friday!

Today I have an extra special double bill. First, I’m hosting Poetry Friday for the very first time–and you can leave your poetry links with Inlinkz’s friendly frog below.

Second, drum roll please … I’m rolling out my summer green carpet to welcome
Margaret Simon with her brand new book, so come along it’s 

Time for a

Virtual Summer Vacation …

Kick your feet up and relax with

Bayou Song

Creative Explorations
of the
South Louisiana Landscape 

Poetry by Margaret Simon
Photography by Henry Cancienne
Illustrations by Anna Cantrell
(UL PRESS, University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press, 2018)


Margaret, I’m happy and honored to have you here with your gorgeous poetry book, Bayou Song Creative Explorations of the South Louisiana Landscape–and what better time to embark on a virtual summer vacation than summer solstice. I thought we’d do this as a virtual road trip, and have you share your inspirations and the critters that can be found along the Bayou Teche during the summer.

1st Road Stop–Let’s begin with your ideas and inspirations for this rich book, and how long it was in the making.

I started writing this collection in April 2017. The first poem I wrote was requested by
J. Patrick Lewis for the upcoming National Geographic’s The Poetry of US.  Bayou Song became the title poem for the book.

 In September of 2017, I pitched the book idea to UL Press. They allowed me to find my own illustrator.  I had met Anna Cantrell at a friend’s gallery and knew that her style would fit the poems, so I contacted her and she began working. We finished the manuscript in January, 2018.  

Even though I live on the bayou, I did have to do some research on the animals, birds, and plants. Each poem is grounded in research as well as poetic form. I have a long list of poets who inspire me. 

Fill us in a bit on the photo selections and the text that accompanies them.

UL Press is dedicated to educational publications. I added the photographs and the nonfiction text to bring in an element of research to enrich the poetry experience. Henry is an amazing photographer of South Louisiana. He offered many photos to choose from. I also included a few of my own photos and some from renowned Louisiana photographer Philip Gould. I met with Philip early on, so his photographs inspired many of the poems.  

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From Bayou Song, text © Margaret Simon, Photography © Henry Cancienne Illustrations © Anna Cantrell

2nd Road Stop–I really enjoyed the space you allowed following your poems inviting the readers to write and sketch. Would you fill us in a bit on this, and how it relates to you.

As a teacher, I have been attracted to the format that Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell have used for their books,  Here we Go and You Just Wait. (I have a poem in Here We Go.) Pomelo Books.  In each of their poetry “Power Packs,” they invite students to write. I wanted to do this, too. Anna’s illustrations lend themselves to an invitation to drawing as well. My publisher, James Wilson at UL Press, had the idea of a spiral binding to make the book more interactive for kids because it would open flat like a textbook. I think this adds to the uniqueness of the format of the book. 

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From Bayou Song, text © Margaret Simon, Photography © Henry Cancienne Illustrations © Anna Cantrell


Sometimes on the bayou in Louisiana
a storm rolls in quickly–
Cypress trees
sway to the sound,

Sometimes on a quiet day
when the sun is high and hot
a heron happens by–
The bayou slows to the beat of his wading.

The song of the bayou
can be as fast and frenetic as a Zydeco two-step
or as soft and slow as a Cajun waltz–
The bayou sings a song to me.

Would you tell us about the backstory for writing Bayou Song.

My husband and I love to dance Cajun and Zydeco. We’ve taken lessons and try to go out at least once a week. This has become an empty nest activity that makes our time together so much fun. Looking for a metaphor about the movement of the bayou, I naturally gravitated to the dance metaphor. I giggled with childlike delight when Anna created this clever image of the herons dancing and the possum strumming the fiddle. 

Barred owl

From Bayou Song, text © Margaret Simon, Photography © Henry Cancienne Illustrations © Anna Cantrell

3rd Road Stop–The summer bayou seems to be busy around the clock, from early morning with great blue heron’s, till late at night with wise old barred owls. Would you speak to us about some of the summer animals that you picked to include in your book.

Most of the animals in the book live year round near the bayou. In the summer, I hear the barred owl calling at night and even early in the morning. The great white egret or great blue heron will wade in the shallows stealthily fishing. By summer, baby alligators have hatched so the mothers are not as threatening. Sometimes nutria can be seen swimming along the shore foraging for vegetation. This spring I had a huge raccoon drinking from the hummingbird feeder. We have to pick up the cat food at night or my dog Charlie will go nutso when this raccoon forages for supper. The summer heat keeps most of the animals lazily hiding in the shade.  

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From Bayou Song, text © Margaret Simon, Photography © Henry Cancienne Illustrations © Anna Cantrell


Mr. Owl hoots a call,
Who cooks for you all?

Soulful eyes
From hollow spies

Moon rises 
Forest disguises

Shadows dance
Bayou’s trance

Marking mole,
mouse, or vole–

Barred wings hover
Strong talons cover

Noiseless flight
Deep dark night

Fill us in on your backstory for the Barred Owl poem.

Truly I can hear a barred owl call every night if I listened long enough. They are very common and are known for their “Who cooks for you” call. The form is one inspired by my friend, poet Irene Latham from her book The Sun Shines on Antartica. (Many of the forms of poems included in the book were inspired by my poet friends at Poetry Friday. 

As we say adieu I’d like to share one of the  resounding reviews for Bayou Song,

“Part field guide, part poetry collection, and part naturalist’s notebook, this symphony of words, art and images will leave readers spellbound by the beauty of the bayou. Inspiration abounds, and nature-lovers young and old will thrill at the opportunity to add their own poems and sketches to this celebration of South Louisiana’s unique landscape.”
–Irene Latham, poetry editor for Birmingham Arts Journal and author of Leaving Gee’s Bend, 2011 ALLA Children’s Book of the Year.

For more outstanding reviews visit: University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press

Thanks Margaret for this fascinating nature, critter filled poetry book–I’m looking forward to making an actual trip there one day! Would you fill us in on any particulars about the book that you would like to share, how it can be obtained and future blog stops.

The Book is available on Amazon and ULPress and can be ordered through any distributor. 

Bayou Song

Creative Explorations
of the
South Louisiana Landscape 

Poetry by Margaret Simon
Photography by Henry Cancienne
Illustrations by Anna Cantrell
Published by University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press (June 2018)

To all in the continental US, if you are interested in winning a free book give-away for Bayou Song that will be signed by Margaret Simon, please leave your full name and email address in the comments along with the words Bayou Song Give-Away

Bayou Song Blog Tour

To read more exciting posts about Margaret Simon’s debut children’s poetry book, Bayou Song, follow this blog tour.

Tuesday, June 26:
Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core

Friday, June 29:
Ruth Hersey at There is no such thing as a God-forsaken town

Friday, July 6:
Kimberly Hutmacher at Kimberly Hutmacher Writes

Friday, July 13:
Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise

Tuesday, July 17:
Laura Shovan 

Tuesday, July 24
Amanda Potts at Persistence and Pedagogy

Friday, July 27:
Carol Varsalona at Beyond LiteracyLink

Monday, July 30
Linda Baie at Teacher Dance

Friday, Aug. 3
Dani Burtsfield at Doing the Work that Matters


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Happy Summer Solstice 2018

1-Summer Solstice 2018


Rose of sharon
Ox eye daisy
Liatris spicata
Tiger lily
Et Al.      

© 2018 Michelle Kogan

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Poetry Friday–Father’s Day


Earthgoddess Bittern Banan TreeEarth Goddess, Bitten and Banana Tree, endangered species, watercolor and watercolor pencil.

Happy Poetry Friday!

Karen Edmisten is hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup this week on her blog, thanks Karen!

I’m sharing a tanka poem in memory of my Dad–and a colorful painting, as he enjoyed colors and the perseverance of others which is what this painting is about.


Dad and I set off 
Knocking on neighbors doors 
Most opened their doors 
and then coldly closed them 
But we trudged on further

He was determined 
I was determined too 
Principles lead us 
Principles tried tearing 
us down dad stood his ground

Dark carried us home
But not in heart we held
our heads high discussed
another day to try
Together we moved on

© 2018 Michelle Kogan

Last Saturday I was at a Poetry Foundation Workshop that covered punctuation in poetry, and how different poets use punctuation. Our challenge was to write a poem about a lesson–in two versions, one without punctuation and one with. I’m shared the poem without punctuation.

I’m also sharing this beautiful and tender poem I found, called The Gift, by Li-Young Lee.

by Li-Young Lee

To pull the metal splinter from my palm
my father recited a story in a low voice.
I watched his lovely face and not the blade.
Before the story ended, he’d removed
the iron sliver I thought I’d die from.

I can’t remember the tale,
but hear his voice still, a well
of dark water, a prayer.
And I recall his hands,
two measures  of tenderness
he laid against my face,
the flames of discipline
he raised above my head.
Had you entered that afternoon
you would have thought you saw a man
planting something in a boy’s palm,
a silver tear, a tiny flame.
Had you followed that boy
you would have arrived here,
where I bend over my wife’s right hand.
Read the rest of the poem at the Poetry Foundation. Here also is Li-Young Lee’s Bio.

See you next week at my blog for the Poetry Friday Roundup–Welcoming Summer with a brand new book!
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Poetry Friday–Community #WearOrange


Last Saturday I attended the local #WearOrange rally in Evanston, Illinois. It was in support of victims, friends, and relatives who have lost lives through gun violence and in support of curbing gun violence and helping to prevent it.

There were speakers,  performers, and tables with materials helping you find ways to get involved. It was an invigorating and community building rally to attend!

My concrete poem is in response to the rally:

1-Community–Stop Gun Violence-poem-m kogan- 6-5-2018

A performance and more photos from the rally …… 



By Danez Smith

say it with your whole black mouth: i am innocent
& if you are not innocent, say this: i am worthy of forgiveness,
        of breath after breath

I tell you this: i let blue eyes dress me in guilt
walked around stores convinced the very skin of my palm was stolen

& what good has that brought me? days filled flinching
thinking the sirens were reaching for me

& when the sirens were for me
did i not make peace with god?

so many white people are alive because
we know how to control ourselves.

how many times have we died on a whim
wielded like gallows in their sun-shy hands?

here standing in my own body, i say: the next time
they murder us for the crime of their imaginations

i don’t know what I’ll do.

i did not come to preach of peace 
for that is not the hunted’s duty.

i came here to say what i can’t say
without my name being added to a list

Read the rest of the poem at poets.org


Kiesha is hosting this weeks Poetry Friday Roundup on her blog, Whispers from the Ridge Kiesha Shepard, thanks Kiesha! She’s wrapping summer around her and has shared a summer poem, Summer’s Song. Drop by her blog for a taste of summer and more poems.


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Register for my Figures & Nature Class

Hurry Register for my Figures and Nature Class, it starts in One Week, on June 11th at the Evanston Art Center, http://www.evanstonartcenter.org ©️ 2018, Michelle Kogan

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Poetry Friday: Bookmarks


Happy Poetry Friday! I’m celebrating books and bookmarks today, just because I love both and because I have a bevy of bookmark offerings in my online Etsy shop that would love to meet up with one of your books at, Michelle Kogan Fine Art .  This link will land you on the my home page, and from here you can follow the link to my Bookmarks page. So what better way to get this celebration started than with a list poem about bookmarks! 

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Pieces of paper
poking out of
your pages–
Grab one
nab one
you just gotta
have one …
Tall ones
short ones–
Do you have a favorite one?
By that special author
or that special artist,
or that special critter,
or that one over there …
It became special
just … Because.
Oh me oh my,
your high and dry
without uh one.
We can fix that
in a hurry, but you
better scurry.
Think of all those words
all left alone,
all by themselves–
When you two are in
a completely different zone,
or maybe you’re on that
silly phone,
or I don’t know,
maybe you’re just
off on your own.
Awww now you’re all
tied up in knots,
and you can’t see any words,
but your seeing … SPOTS!
Run right out this minute–
Beg, buy, borrow,
but find a bookmark,
or there may never be
another tomorrow! 

©2018 Michelle Kogan

1--koi-bkmark-back-5-2018    1--Menagerie-of-flowers-&-Bee-bookmark-front-5-2018 copy

And here’s a list poem by Lee Bennett Hopkins.

by Lee Bennett Hopkins

Why sunsets?
Why trees?
Why birds?
Why seas?
Why you?
Why me?
Why friends?

Read the rest of the poem at Nerdy Book Club, along with some other connected topics.

Buffy Silverman at Buffy’s Blog is hosting this weeks Poetry Friday Roundup, and she’s talking about Summer! Thanks Buffy, be sure to stop by her blog for more poetry!

BTW June 1–3 is #WearOrange in support of gun violence prevention, and there are events happening across the country.


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Poetry Friday–Golden Shovel, Books, Children


My thoughts were and are still with the students and teachers of the Santa Fe, Tx, High School shooting from last week. I let poetry and painting feed the outrage in my heart. I had just received this beautiful book, Libba, The Magnificent Musical Life of Elizabeth Cotten, by Laura Veirs, and illustrated by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh from Jama Rattigan as a book giveaway. Thanks Jama for this soft spoken, yet powerfully rich book! Jama reviewed this book on her blog this past March. I knew I wanted to build a poem, a golden shovel from Elizabeth Cotten’s well known, and historic song Freight Train.



When will the heavy freight 
for children lift and become light, like an HO gauge train?
When will the heavy freight
of guns forever disappear–And travel down a one-way train
track that will route and run
those guns, every single one, so
very far away and fast!

2018 Michelle Kogan


Between the Lines Cover

I also want to send a thank you out to Michelle Heidenrich Barnes for receiving another book giveaway, Between the Lines by Nikki Grimes. Michelle recently interviewed Nikki Grimes, and included this book on her blog Today’s Little DittyI’m about half way through this young adult book–which is written in prose and verse–and loving the many unique voices of the high school students, and their poems that they write for “Open Mike Fridays” and a poetry slam.

I find refuge in these books, but I feel lots of work is at hand, and will continue to use my voice, march, and carry a sign among other actions to help with this horrific period of gun violence we are experiencing here in the USA. I also joined an organization last week in a desire to help, Mom’s Demand Action, for Gun Sense in America.

Drop in on Margaret Gibson Simon’s blog, Reflections on the Teche, she’s hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup, and featuring a poetry-photo exchange called, “More than Meets the Eye,” thanks Margaret!

Wishes for a happy and safe Memorial weekend to all celebrating!

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Poetry Friday–Ars Poetica & Monarchs


Happy Poetry Friday! I went to a poetry workshop last week on Ars Poetica at the Poetry Foundation. I think this is the first of many Ars Poetica poems that I may write.



Words crawl out from nowhere or somewhere
images begin to form or not–

Voice vacillates seeking its venue,
                                   takes a

                                     place …                     

                        Structure might



Voice returns self-assured or questioning,
as if a mountain could speak–what if it can?

What would it say …
“Follow your passion–” Listen to that mountain speak–

              Listen to Nature–Mother Nature,
                           and Poetry, ask them questions

then listen with your mouth
              speak with your ears

                             paint words whatever way you can
               on whatever you can find

                                           music moves cultures
                paper-thin-poetry can move cultural barriers

Come–Now–Voice, no Boomeranging
                                  no Balderdashing

Sing–sweet as a child’s piercing cry
            Move–sure as tsunami’s destructive path

Carry–silent as a thunderstorm
            Resound–willful as a fighter’s last breath

                              ensure monarch’s next flight
                                            a small wing of humanity  

                                                           moves forward
                                                                        forever, forward
                                                                                     Wings of

© 2018 Michelle Kogan

You can  read more about Ars Poetica here. I also found a few other Ars Poetica poems to share.

By James Galvin

Let us begin with a simple line,
Drawn as a child would draw it,
To indicate the horizon,

More real than the real horizon,
Which is less than line,
Which is visible abstraction, a ratio.

The line ravishes the page with implications
Of white earth, white sky!

The horizon moves as we move,
Making us feel central.
But the horizon is an empty shell—

Read the rest of the poem here.

By Heather McHugh

For Fabbio Doplicher

We were supposed to do a job in Italy
and, full of our feeling for
ourselves (our sense of being
Poets from America) we went
from Rome to Fano, met
the Mayor, mulled a couple
matters over. The Italian literati seemed
bewildered by the language of America: they asked us
what does “flat drink” mean? and the mysterious
“cheap date” (no explanation lessened
this one’s mystery). Among Italian writers we

could recognize our counterparts: the academic,
the apologist, the arrogant, the amorous,
the brazen and the glib. And there was one
administrator (The Conservative), in suit
of regulation gray, who like a good tour guide
with measured pace and uninflected tone
narrated sights and histories
the hired van hauled us past.
Of all he was most politic–
and least poetic– so
it seemed. Our last
few days in Rome
I found a book of poems this
unprepossessing one had written: it was there
in the pensione room (a room he’d recommended)
where it must have been abandoned by
the German visitor (was there a bus of them?) to whom
he had inscribed and dated it a month before. I couldn’t
read Italian either, so I put the book
back in the wardrobe’s dark. We last Americans

were due to leave
tomorrow. For our parting evening then
our host chose something in a family restaurant,
and there we sat and chatted, sat and chewed, till,
sensible it was our last big chance to be Poetic, make
our mark, one of us asked

“What’s poetry?
Is it the fruits and vegetables
and marketplace at Campo dei Fiori

Read the rest of her poem here.

by Rita Dove

Thirty miles to the only decent restaurant
was nothing, a blink
in the long dull stare of Wyoming.
Halfway there the unknown but terribly
important essayist yelled Stop!
I wanna be in this;
and walked fifteen yards onto the land
before sky bore down and he came running,
crying Jesus–there’s nothing out there!

Read the rest of her poem here.


Rebecca Herzog at her blog Sloth Reads is hosting this weeks Poetry Friday Roundup, thanks Rebecca! Be sure to stop by her blog for more poetry!











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Happy Mother’s Day!

1- Mother's Day Dimante and peach blossomsUntitled-3


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Poetry Friday–Mother’s Day– Poems from “The Best of Today’s Little Ditty 2016”


Happy Poetry Friday and Happy Mother’s Day. I have the pleasure today of featuring a rich and varied collection of poems from Michelle Heidenrich Barnes’ The Best of Today’s Little Ditty 2016, Poems for Our Mothers. This is Michelle’s second poetry anthology, that includes poems that were submitted for her Ditty of the Month Club poetry challenge featured on her blog, Today’s Little Ditty. For nine months out of the year she offered a Spotlight ON … and interviewed a poet, author, or editor, and then they would present a ditty challenge for all to write on and submit. In this second anthology, the Spotlight ON … interviews included Douglas Florian, David L. Harrison, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, Marilyn Singer, Laura Shovan, Diana Murray, Jane Yolen, Kenn Nesbitt, and Ann Rider. Michelle’s book hosts a collection of 75 poems by 50 different poets, and in addition she’s included some of her favorite poetry websites and resources–an inspiring book you’ll want to return to again and again! The delightful cover and interior drawings are by Teresa Robeson.

In October of 2016 Kenn Nesbitt challenged us to write about Poems for Our Mothers.
Write it for your mother and give it to her. It an be any kind of poem you like, as long as it’s especially for her. ~Kenn Nesbitt

I’ve selected five of the poems from this section to share with you today, and along with the poem, the poets have included a bit of backstory on their particular poem.


1-MHBarnes+Mom -5-9-2018

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes and her mom.

                      1- Mother's Heart - Michelle Heidenrich Barnes concrete poem-5-10-2018Untitled-2

If I was to paint a Norman Rockwell-style portrait of my childhood, it would be set in our cozy kitchen, my mother at the table composing her weekly lists. Mom has always been a list-maker. She handed that trait down to me, along with the propensity to become distracted and start doodling in the margins. Where we differ, is that my mother doodled words, not pictures—the names of people she loved, most of all. It seems funny that those insignificant scribbles should have made such an impression, yet seeing my name there along with my father’s and brother’s assured me I would always be safe and secure in her heart.

~Michelle Heidenrich Barnes


Mom & Heidi

Heidi Mordhorst and her mom.

             for my mother~Mother’s Day 2011 

this little piggy stayed home
for so long we were
           together all the time
           together all alone
           together all among
open the doors and see all the people

four gray geese in a flock
for so long you listened to every word I
           began to say
           forgot to say
           dared to say
wire briar limber lock  

we parted  disintegrated
remembered  recombined

apple seed and apple thorn
for so long now we are
           winding threads
           dropping threads
           picking up threads
sit and sing by a spring

there were two old Indians crossing the Mississippi 
           ripping a seam here and there
           putting right sides together
           stitching farther rivers
would you like to hear the rest?

© 2016 Heidi Mordhorst. All rights reserved.

This poem turns on the finger-plays and story telling of my early years. The toe-tugging of “This Little Piggy,” the finger-folding of “Wire, Briar, Limber, Lock” and, importantly for a minister’s wife and daughter, “Here is the Church”—they were all repeated so often that when I think of them I hear the words spoken in my mother’s voice.

Lila Zingerline Mordhorst was also an accomplished seamstress, and as well as making most of her own and my clothes, she taught me to sew. 

Now that we are both older Indians, “our blankets all covered with frost and snow” (I know not the provenance of that foolish, repeating story), we do spend time rewinding those old threads and restitching loose or crooked seams.  We do it all with our voices. 
~Heidi Mordhorst


Mom on stairs

B.J. Lee’s mom.


Mother, mine,
gone from me too soon.
It’s hard to catch a glimpse of you
in my mind’s eye–
your face blurring,
then disappearing with the years.

My brothers tell me,
You laugh just like Mom.
Relatives whisper,
Who does she dress like?
and, If she isn’t the spittin’ image …
as they elbow each other
in shadowed corners.

On the telephone I always get,
You sound just like your mother.
Do people honestly think 
it doesn’t bother me to hear that?
The trouble is, they aren’t thinking.

When I sobbingly question my father
about his now sidelong glances,
he admits, I find it difficult
to look you full in the face.

I run for my room.

Everyone else,
sees her in me.

Maybe it’s the only way
I have of truly seeing her.

© 2016 B.J. Lee. All rights reserved.

This poem is autobiographical. My beautiful mother passed away from a cerebral hemorrhage when I was 17 and she was 36 years old, leaving behind four children, the youngest of whom was just six. This poem captures the years after her passing and reflects a realization I came to at a tender age. My mother had been an artist, painting mostly still lifes and ocean scenes, and I often heard this phrase from those who knew her well, “Everybody loves your mother.” I miss you, Mom.

~B.J. Lee


Charles Waters' Mom.

Charles Waters’ mom.


Momma’s hugs,
warm as a gust of summer air,
soak up my fears
like a sponge,
leaving me brave enough to fling myself
back again
into this glorious,
yet unkind world.

© 2016 Charles Waters. All rights reserved.

When I was a wee one my mother would sometimes envelop me in hugs and kisses telling me how much she loved me. Looking back on those special times, a poem came forth. 

~Charles Waters


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Michelle Kogan and her mom.

1- Mom's Beauty Poem M Kogan 5-10-2018

Being a mom is no easy task, and there’s not a book, or anything else that can prepare you for it, except being there. My mom throughout my childhood filled this role of being there–with love, hope, encouragement, and pride for all her children. This poem comes from an actual event–the outcome for me, small gestures of giving can make a big impact for a lifetime.

~Michelle Kogan

Wishing all a Happy Mother’s Day!


Jama Rattigan, the hostess of the mostest at Jama’s Alphabet Soup is hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup, thanks Jama–and her scrumptious blog posts are something not to miss!






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