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!


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Poetry Friday & Important Voices

Springs Softness Poem and waterolor 5-17-2017

Spring’s Softness

Spring’s softness has settled in the city,
trees tenderness triumphs with new leaves.
Rivers of rivulets, feed meadows of
multi-colored crocuses that vanish–

Almost magically before our eyes.
Replenished with tulips, daffodils, and
lavender’s long-gone childhood memories,
bringing earth’s subtlety in our senses.

© 2017 Michelle Kogan

I wrote Spring’s Softness from a poem prompt by Rainer Maria Rilke. Heather Meloche  posted the poem along with selecting 10 words that we would incorporate into our new poem. The poem was posted in Laura Shovan’s continuing February Daily Poem Project.  

I’m sharing a portion of George Eliot’s poem More Roses. The poem is from a book I picked up last July at the Newberry Libraries summer book sale. Eliot wrote two books of poetry, and More Roses is from her poetry book, The Spanish Gypsy.  Her other poetry book is The Legend of the Jubal, and other poems. Here’s a link for a bit more bio on George Eliot


By George Eliot (aka or her real name Mary Ann Evans)

Queen, a branch of roses–
So sweet, you’ll love to smell them. “Twas the last.
I climbed the bank to get it before Tralla,
And slipped and scratched my arm. But I don’t
You love the roses–so do I. I wish
The sky would rain down roses, as they rain
From off the shaken bush. Why will it not?
Then all the valley would be pink and white
Ad soft to tread on. They would fall as light
As feathers, smelling sweet; and it would be
Like sleeping and yet waking, all at once!
Over the sea, Queen, where we soon shall go,
Will it rain roses?

I was hoping to write  a poem in memory of Javier Valdez, the internationally known Mexican journalist and writer who was so ruthlessly taken from all of us this past week. As this didn’t happen yet, I’m sharing a quote and link to a news source from this last week. Sending my thoughts out to his family, friends and all who cared about his work, and the importance of continuing to speak out.

Quote by Javier Valdez
Living in Sinaloa is a threat, and being a journalist is an additional threat. We learned how to live in times when bullets are flying around us. You have to know the rules – how the gangs or police or a local politician here or there will respond to a certain story – but those rules can change quickly. These are impossible conditions in which to practice journalism.

from: euronews

News article: Mexican Drug trade reporter Javier Valdez killedBBC News

Kiesha Shepard at Whispers from the Ridge is hosting this weeks Poetry Friday Roundup, thanks for hosting Kiesha! Be sure to drop by her blog for an interesting new book she just received, and  many more poems.

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Poetry Friday-Mother’s Day-Mothers & Daughters


For Poetry Friday I’m sharing Poems about Mothers and Daughters for Mother’s Day.


Mothers and daughters what ties them together?
Building bonds as sensitive as a feather.

Laughing and crying–sharing joy and sorrow,
years passing too quickly into tomorrow.

Daughters becoming mothers to their mothers,
balancing, listening, inside another.

Mothers always mothers to their daughters,
riding waves over a lifetime of waters.

Mothers and daughters, and daughters and mothers,
a bond worthy to build between each other . . .

©2017 Michelle Kogan

This next poem is by Eavan Boland, from her book A WOMAN WITHOUT A COUNTRY. I’m sorry to say that I couldn’t find it anywhere on line, (it’s a book from my personal library) so if you want to read it in entirety, stop by your library or purchase the book. Here is a bio-link to read more about Eavan Boland at the Poetry Foundation.


We have a tray, a pot of tea, a scone.

This is the hour

When one thing pours itself into another:

The gable of our house stored in shadow,

A spring planet bending ice

Into an absolute of light.


Your childhood ended years ago. There is 

No path back to it, there is 

No certainty I can find

The if or maybe that might remedy

An afternoon you walked up the hill

After school. In winter, in tears.

The fire smolders down into cinders.

Lilac shivers in the March dark.

If love is a civilization,

As I once hoped it was,

And you and I are its living citizens

And if our words

Are less than rules and more than remedies

As we speak, maybe

Someone escapes from a wounded morning

In a small classroom and finds

The world is not stern, after all. Paper birds

Are folded and fly off in the playground.

The Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted this week by Tara Reid at A Teaching Life, stop by for more poems.




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Poetry Friday– Natures Voice & WIP


I went on another poem hunt and found the poet Karen An-Hwei Lee. My poem today is inspired by a poem of hers that I am sharing, and accompanies my WIP watercolor painting. Karen An-Hwei Lee’s poem follows below mine. You can read her poem in entirety at the Poetry Foundation:


Nature’s voice quiet as a cottontail

calls through her Midwest milkweeds,

her savoir faire sunflowers

dancing in place,

in crevices of earth wherever–

Waiting, waiting, patiently, waiting,

they’ve come–

bees, butterflies, birds

another season–

Is there any doubt

why indigenous

peoples praised

our devoted


© 2017 Michelle Kogan


On the other side of this door
You are an oyamel native to the mountains of Mexico
Rising in a cloud forest of sister evergreens
Shedding pollen cones, shedding winged seeds
Our lost wings 
                    singly and in pairs.
This is why the monarchs vanish    
Raising sienna-hued colonies longer than my arms
Hibernating in Mexico where it’s hotter in January
                than my front yard, where the red bougainvillea raves
Oyamel fir forest, in Mexico, is where the Monarch butterflies spend their winter. Click on Oyamel to  find out more about this forest, the ecosystem their, and the monarchs.
Jama, at Jama’s Alphabet Soup is hosting the Roundup for Poetry Friday. I’m always taken by her delectable posts filled with rich imagery and poems, and would definitely make a stop there.
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#NaPoWriMo Day 30 & Thanks


I just received this beautiful book from Kathy Temean– She  recently featured it on her blog, Writing and Illustrating, Sharing Information About Writing and Illustrating for Children; it’s a treasure in words and art, many thanks Kathy! 

For the last day of #NaPoWriMo I’ve written a poem of thanks to Kathy for this book.

Book Treasures

Spring tickled my fancy–
Leaves danced through pages with,
critters in all stages.

Mouth-watering colors–
Stirred imagination
for nature’s sensation!

Literary beauty,
sandwiched between covers,
treasures to discover . . .

© 2017 Michelle Kogan

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Day 28 of the 2017 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem, Poetry Friday & #NaPoWriMo–Oh my!



It’s Poetry Friday, and the annual Progressive Poem, that began way back on April 1st, has landed at my port. Irene Latham began the Progressive Poem, in 2012.  Which begins each year April 1st and and runs through April 30th. The Poetry Friday community and all other lovers of poetry are invited to sign up and contribute a line to create one poem by the end of the month. It’s similar to an exquisite corpse drawing, although all following the poem get to see the lines as the poem develops. 

 I’m at the end, we’re headed towards the finish line. It’s taken some interesting turns in the last few stanzas and has to quickly pull together. I wrote a line, put it aside came back, wrote a variant of it, and then came back to my original. Our pirate-dragon wanted one more interlude before he/she takes their bow. Hence, without further adieu my line is the last one here in bold. I’m handing off the closing lines adventure to Charles, and then it goes to Laura.

I’m fidget, friction, ragged edges–
I sprout stories that frazzle-dazzle,
stories of castles, of fires that crackle,
with dragonwords that smoke and sizzle.

But edges, sometimes, need sandpaper…
like swords need stone and clouds need vapour.
So I shimmy out of my spurs and armour
facing the day as my fickle, freckled self.

I thread the crowd, wear freedom in my smile
and warm to the coals of conversation.
Enticed to the stage by strands of story,

I skip up the stairs in anticipation.

Flip around, face the crowd, and freeze!
Shiver me. Look who’s here. Must I disappear?
By hook or by crook, I deserve a second look!

I cheer. Please, have no fear. Find the book.

But wait! I’ll share the lines I know by heart.
Mythicalhowls, fierytones slip from my lip
Blue scales flash, claws rip, the prophecy begins
Dragonworld weaves webs that grip. I take a trip…

“Anchors aweigh!” Steadfast at helm on clipper ship
a topsail schooner, with sails unfurled, speeds away
As, true-hearted dragon pirate, I sashay
with my wise parrot, Robyn, through the spray.

“Land Ho!” (“Land Ho!”) We’ve hooked the whole crowd.
So it’s true what they say: the play IS the thing.
Stepping back from my blocking, theatre grows loud…
I draw my sword, while shielding the BOOK–the house din dies.



Aye Matey’s, I’m not sure what happens next but it’s been a seaworthy journey! Perhaps the artist will transform the sketch into color. . .


In the Spirit of the Sea I’m sharing a watery poem by Lucy Maud Montgomery. You can read the entire poem at: Famous Poets and Poems!  And here is an interesting biography of Lucy Maud Montgomery.

THE SEA SPIRIT by Lucy Maud Montgomery
I smile o’er the wrinkled blue­
Lo! the sea is fair,
Smooth as the flow of a maiden’s hair;
And the welkin’s light shines through
Into mid-sea caverns of beryl hue,
And the little waves laugh and the mermaids sing,
And the sea is a beautiful, sinuous thing! 

I scowl in sullen guise­
The sea grows dark and dun,
The swift clouds hide the sun
But not the bale-light in my eyes,
And the frightened wind as it flies
Ruffles the billows with stormy wing,
And the sea is a terrible, treacherous thing! 

When moonlight glimmers dim 
I pass in the path of the mist, 
Like a pale spirit by spirits kissed. 
At dawn I chant my own weird hymn, 
And I dabble my hair in the sunset’s rim, 
And I call to the dwellers along the shore 
With a voice of gramarye evermore.

Ahoy Mates, here’s a map of the Progressive Poem’s journey . . . 

1 Heidi at my juicy little universe
2 Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference
3 Doraine at Dori Reads
4 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty
5 Diane at Random Noodling HERE!
6 Kat at Kat’s Whiskers
7 Irene at Live Your Poem
8 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
9 Linda at TeacherDance
10 Penny at blog-a- penny-and- her-jots
11 Ramona at Pleasures from the Page
12 Janet F. at Live Your Poem
13 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
14 Jan at Bookseedstudio
15 Brenda at Friendly Fairy Tales
16 Joy at Poetry for Kids Joy
17 Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect
18 Buffy at Buffy’s Blog
19 Pat at Writer on a Horse
20 BJ at Blue Window
21 Donna at Mainely Write
22 Jone at Jone Rush MacCulloch
23 Ruth at There’s No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town
24 Amy at The Poem Farm
25 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge
26 Renee at No Water River
27 Matt at Radio, Rhythm and Rhyme
28 Michelle at Michelle Kogan Illustration Painting & Writing
29 Charles at Poetry Time
30 Laura Purdie Salas at Writing the World for Kids

 For more Poetry Friday Poems visit JoAnn at Teaching Authors. Thanks for hosting, and Happy 8th Blog Birthday too!



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NapoWriMo Day 26–Thank you haiku


I received this lovely postcard at the beginning of April from Irene Latham, writer and poet, who has been posting ARTSPEAK! Portrait poems, and hosting the Progressive Poem on her blog this month. Check out both, they are wonderful! The opposite side of the card says, “HAPPY NATIONAL POETRY MONTH! The art image is called Birmingham Summer by Melissa Shultz-Jones, gouache on paper. Sending Irene a belated thanks, in a haiku, for sharing this rich, poetic image with me!

radiating thanks 
irene, for–”live your poem”
resplendent postcare!

©2017 Michelle Kogan

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#NaPoWriMo day 24, #WIP, & EAC Spring Session 2 Art Classes


Beauty and Spring Flowers
Beauties there in front of you,
patiently waiting, 
just open
up your
eyes . . .
© 2017 Michelle Kogan
My Evanston Art Center Spring Session 2 art classes start next week- May 1st, I’m offering the following classes:
Figures and NatureDrawing/Painting 
5  Week Session   
Starts Mon. May.1, 2017 #0159
9:30 -12:30 pm
Materials, Composition & Technique  

 5  Week Session   
Starts Tues. May 2, 2017  #E0160B
9:30-12:30 pm
Tropical Plein Air
2 Days, Thursday 9:30-12:30 pm
May 18 & 25, 2017 #9005B
Pen & Ink & Dr. Martin Watercolor #9026 
May 6, 2017,  Saturday 9:30 am – 4:00
For registration and more info visit: Evanston Art Center or call 847-475-5300
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#NaPoWriMo Day 23, #watercolor, #poems, #picturebooks


Growing Poetry
To write
each day
far from
a chore,
will open up
magical doors.
To read,
to think,
is like
one’s breath–
Ideas sprout
and scenes are set.
your tool.
carve out
your time,
plant seeds deep, for
character depth.
© 2017 Michelle Kogan
Art image from The Sunflower Traveler, watercolor and watercolor pencil, a chapter book that’s seeking a home.
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Poetry Friday– #NaPoWriMo & Earth Day

1-Support Women of Science -color-Poster 4-20-2017

Support Women of Science

Embrace women leading us in science–Protecting life, water, and air!

Anita Studer –Swiss, ornithologist and environmentalist. She went to Brazil to study a
                           rare blackbird and ended up saving an entire forest.

Rachel Carson –American marine biologist. She fought diligently through words and
                               activism to protect our environment and wrote Silent Spring.

Teriān, Ālenush –Was an Iranian-American Astronomer and Physicist. Known as the
                                “Mother of Modern Iranian Astronomy.”

Hegerl, Gabriele C. –American climatologist. She studies/contributes to the effects
                               that greenhouse gas emissions have on our climate; and writes.


Diana Marcela Bolaños Rodriguez –Columbian marine biologist. Her studies focused
                           on “polyclad flatworms,” which can “generate tissue through stem cells.

Alice Evans –Was an American microbiologist. In Washington D.C. she studied
                       bacteria in cows, and this later led to the pasteurization of milk.

Yaël Nazé –Belgian Physicist. She focuses on “massive stars and their interactions
                     with their surroundings.” She has also written many books.



Wallace, Carden –Australian Marine Biologist. Helped discover “mass
                                 spawning of coral.” She wrote “a revision of the Genus Acropora.”

Omowunmi Sadik –Nigerian Chemist and inventor. She’s developed sensors for
detecting drugs and explosives; and is also recycling metal ions from waste.

Marie Tharp –American Biologist. With a fellow scientist she mopped 70% of the
entire ocean floor. Her work lead to the acceptance of “plate tectonics
and continental drift.

Ellen Swallow Richards –American industrial and environmental Chemist. Because
 her tests for water quality in the 1880s, the first sewage
                                                treatment plant in America was created.

Nyokong, Tebello–South African Chemist and cancer researcher. She’s researching
                                 “photo-dynamic therapy,” which is an alternative to chemotherapy;
                                 and she writes.

© 2017 Michelle Kogan

Many Scientists were found on the “List of female scientists in the 21st century,” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_female_scientists_in_the_21st_century

I’m sharing this acrostic poem for a triple header–Poetry Friday, NaPoWriMo, and Earth Day. The image at the top is a poster I’ve made for the March for Science rally I’m participating in on Earth Day, Saturday April 22, 2017, in Chicago. Click on the link above for info about the March.

Visit Tabatha at the Opposite of Indifference for this weeks Poetry Friday Round up. Many thanks for hosting Tabatha, during a difficult week.

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