Poetry Friday–Poem Swap

Summer Poetry Swap 2020 (3)-1

Happy Poetry Friday!

Today I’m celebrating summer with my Summer 2020 Poem Swap sent to me by Rebecca Herzog. I was delighted to receive this lovely, feel good poem and watercolor celebrating summer and sparkles–this helped me to remember it’s summer and a time to celebrate the season–Many thanks Becky! And many thanks also to Tabatha Yeatts who began Summer Poem Swap and continues to organize us each year!

Laura Purdie Salas is our Poetry Friday Host at her blog Writing the World for Kids, thanks for rounding us up Laura! Laura has a brand new book out just in time for school, Clover Kitty Goes to Kittygarten, be sure to check it out, and drop by her blog for many more poems… 


1-Rebecca's Sparkles-8-6-20 copy

Watercolor by Rebecca Herzog, © 2020

Rebecca's Sparkles-poem-8-6-20


Here’s a response poem or maybe a continuation of  Rebecca’s poem, and WIP sketch:

1c-lilac lily's-7 fairy-8-6-20 copy

Sparkle Dreams and Fairy, WIP, ©2020 Michelle Kogan, pencil sketch.


Around lilac lily’s 
ruby jeweled stems

Small shrills of glee 
come rushing out

From fairies flying  
through flowered ground

Spreading sparkle dreams 
through sultry morns…

© 2020 Michelle Kogan

And some summer Star music…


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



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Poetry Friday-Summer Etheree’s

curlicuing contour lines-7-30-20

Follow the Contour Lines and You’ll find… © 2020, Michelle Kogan,  pencil sketch and Photoshop.

Happy Poetry Friday!


I’m having a summer play-day with this etheree poetry prompt given to us by the Poetry Princesses/Poetry Sisters. Laura Purdie Salas, one of the Poetry Sisters suggested using   #poetrypals as a hashtag. I took a few minutes to create a sketch for my Curlicuing poem and of course it ended up taking a few more minutes, but hey I’m glad I followed it’s contour lines…

Catherine Flynn is our Poetry Friday host this week at her blog  Reading to the Core. Thanks for hosting the roundup Catherine! She’s sharing a special book, by Emily Winfield Martin and a poem she wrote inspired by this new book–so stop by her post for lots more poetry… 



to grow, and  
they grew and grew… 
Reaching out to me, 
pushing through my window, 
squeeeezing through and dissooolving
all dimensionality. They 

filled my floating floor curlicuing 
contour lines through my inside-outside space…

© 2020 Michelle Kogan



fill me up…
Spiral top spin
and reach toward sky, your
animated stillness
magically transforms
me toward a new universe
filled with possibilities, and
invites all with open minds, hearts, and dreams…

© 2020 Michelle Kogan


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


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Poetry Friday–John Lewis

Rose for John Lewis 7-23-20

Happy Poetry Friday!

I’m remembering John Lewis in a double etheree poem–Let’s keep his life’s actions alive.

First action–for all of us in the US, make sure you’re registered to vote, better yet, send for your Vote-By-Mail ballot for our November 2020 Election.


Third of ten
children, son of
sharecroppers, who fought
nonviolently for
desegregation and lead
’60s first civil rights sit-ins.
Organized bus boycotts, and protests
for “voter and racial equality.”
’65, organized Selma March to
Montgomery, for voting rights.
He felt change would occur when
engaged in “good trouble.”
Move nonviolence 
Forward–Move his
“good trouble”

© 2020 Michelle Kogan

New Documentary film on John Lewis with trailer:

There’s a bevy of articles out on John Lewis, here’s one I found interesting by Nicole Austin-Hillery: John Lewis’ answer to my question guides me to this day.

Margaret Simon at her blog Reflections on the Teche, is hosting this weeks Poetry Friday roundup, thanks Margaret! Margaret asks us, What is poetry,” which was the focus of an online Poetry Foundation Teacher’s Institute she attended last week at the Poetry Foundation. Stop by for your fill of poetry and more…

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


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Poetry Friday–Poetry Mix & Flowers

Sunflowers, coneflowers, hollyhocks WIP-7-20

Hollyhocks, Sunflowers, & Coneflowers, WIP, © 2020 M. Kogan, watercolor & watercolor pencil.

dance in my dreams
and multiply…
© 2020 Michelle Kogan

Happy Poetry Friday!

I am thinking about the fall, schools beginning, and people returning to on location jobs. My first thoughts are, we’re not ready. Hence this tanka poem evolved…


of fall, falls on many–
But will those who decide   
anticipate outcomes 
judiciously for all?

© 2020 Michelle Kogan

In a few free moments last night I wrote a poem to the photo prompt Margaret Simon posted Wednesday night, THIS PHOTO WANTS TO BE A POEM… Thanks Margaret! Go check out the other poems written to this gorgeous and mysterious feather prompt at her blog REFLECTIONS ON THE TECHE.      

towards sky–
Proud remnant
and reminder of 
proud peoples 
still fighting 
for indigenous 

© 2020 Michelle Kogan

And a Float haiku for Jan…

float by summer’s 
sherbet sky where justice seas 
see all colors fairly…

© 2020 Michelle Kogan

Visit our gracious and ever appreciative Poetry Friday hostess this week Jan G Annino at her blog Bookseedstudio. Jan’s offering a lovely “Float” poem for her mom, and she’s invited us all to join in her Float Celebration, thanks Jan!

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



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#Poetry Friday–James Baldwin


James Baldwin, 1969, Hyde Park, London, from Wikimedia Commons.

Happy Poetry Friday!

It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.

Quote by James Baldwin

I’ve been reading James Baldwin and my post comes from my thoughts circling around our current politics and his writing…
by James Baldwin
I always wonder
what they think the niggers are doing
while they, the pink and alabaster pragmatists,
are containing
and defining and re-defining and re-aligning
nobly restraining themselves, meanwhile,
from blowing up that earth
which they have already
blasphemed into dung:
the gentle, wide-eyed, cheerful
ladies, and their men,
nostalgic for the noble cause of Vietnam,
nostalgic for noble causes,
aching, nobly, to wade through the blood of savages—
Uncas shall never leave the reservation,
except to purchase whisky at the State Liquor Store.
The Panama Canal shall remain forever locked:
there is a way around every treaty.
We will turn the tides of the restless
the sun will rise, and set
on our hotel balconies as we see fit.
The natives will have nothing to complain about,
indeed, they will begin to be grateful,
will be better off than ever before.
They will learn to defer gratification
and save up for things, like we do.
Oh, yes. They will.
We have only to make an offer
they cannot refuse.
This flag has been planted on the moon:
it will be interesting to see
what steps the moon will take to be revenged
for this quite breathtaking presumption.
This people
masturbate in winding sheets.
They have hacked their children to pieces.
They have never honoured a single treaty
made with anyone, anywhere.
The walls of their cities
are as foul as their children.
No wonder their children come at them with knives.
Mad Charlie man’s son was one of their children,
had got his shit together
by the time he left kindergarten,
and, as for Patty, heiress of all the ages,
she had the greatest vacation
of any heiress, anywhere:
Golly-gee, whillikens, Mom, real guns!
and they come with a real big, black funky stud, too: 
oh, Ma! he’s making eyes at me!
Oh, noble Duke Wayne,
be careful in them happy hunting grounds.
They say the only good Indian
is a dead Indian,
by what I say is,
you can’t be too careful, you hear?
Oh, towering Ronnie Reagan,
wise and resigned lover of redwoods,
deeply beloved, winning man-child of the yearning Republic
from diaper to football field to Warner Brothers sound-stages,
be thou our grinning, gently phallic, Big Boy of all the ages!
Salt peanuts, salt peanuts,
for dear hearts and gentle people,
and cheerful, shining, simple Uncle Sam!
Nigger, read this and run!
Now, if you can’t read,
run anyhow!
From Manifest Destiny
(Cortez, and all his men
silent upon a peak in Darien)
to A Decent Interval,
and the chopper rises above Saigon,
abandoning the noble cause
and the people we have made ignoble
and whom we leave there, now, to die,
one moves, With All Deliberate Speed,
to the South China Sea, and beyond,
where millions of new niggers
await glad tidings!
No, said the Great Man’s Lady,
I’m against abortion,
I always feel that’s killing somebody.
Well, what about capital punishment?
I think the death penalty helps.
That’s right.
Up to our ass in niggers
on Death Row.
Oh, Susanna,
don’t you cry for me!


Read the rest of the poem here.

Here’s an article, James Baldwin, poet? But of course, by David L. Ulin that talks about Baldwin’s poetry book, Jimmy’s Blues and Other Poems, that STAGGERLEE WONDERS is included in.


My poem reflects on Baldwin’s poem and events happening today.


Peel back your layers
What lies beneath your skin…

I spent early morning absorbing
James Baldwin’s poem,
Staggerlee Wonders,
written almost forty years ago…
Earth has opened again
as Baldwin predicted,
Change will come
as Baldwin predicted…
Time bickers with History
and in his poem,
History takes the upper hand
It was History–
Her, who emerged on stage “virginal”
Hard to believe–
Now our Earth–one earth
Has opened again
with its
Past Time’s pendulum
ready to dethrone
Histories sordid past,
through means that
Move Change Forward
Change 1960s–
Change 1980s–
Change 2020–
Move Change Forward
or get left behind

© 2020 Michelle Kogan

Our Poetry Friday Round up is hosted today by Ruth Bowen Hersey, at her blog There is no such thing as a God-forsaken town. Thanks for hosting Ruth! Ruth’s invited us all to a party at her blog and has some delightful poems celebrating parties and all that come, so stop by her blog and breathe in all the poetry goodness there…

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


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Poetry Friday–RETHINKING THE 4th


-1-freedom has no color-michelle-kogan-7-02-2020

Freedom Has No Color, Michelle Kogan, © 2018, watercolor, watercolor pencil and pen and ink.

Happy Poetry Friday!

I was in a quandary about this post as we approach the 4th of July weekend and its celebrations. My views on July 4th as independence day have changed. If we are as a country, as one nation going to embrace and celebrate Freedom, I think it needs to be a celebration and holiday for all people, of all colors, and our 4th doesn’t do that. Perhaps we need to change the date, and begin to reconsider what a celebration of FREEDOM means.

As I was pondering these ideas, this last week I read two poems that both spoke to me and moved me. They were both in last Sunday’s New York Times Book Review section. The first was WEATHER by Claudia Rankine–read her poem and listen to it here. The second was SAY THANK YOU SAY I’M SORRY by Jericho Brown. From Jericho Brown’s poem I took a line and built a golden shovel from all these thoughts of not wanting to remain silent.


I’m thinking about July 4th… I’d
like to rethink why we Like
celebrating freedom, on this day. What Us,
on this day, has been denied their inalienable right To
breathe and live without fear?  I’d like to Rethink
what true emancipation for people of color would look like. What
they’ve been denied socially, politically, and legally, and how It,
their freedoms, need change Now. Now, today Is
hundreds of years over due To
rectify their lost lives, lost respect, lost dignity. Be
a beacon, look inward, use your words, your actions–begin to make A
change for people of color in our, one Nation.

© 2020 Michelle Kogan


Striking line from Jericho Brown’s poem, SAY THANK YOU SAY I’M SORRY



by Jericho Brown

I don’t know whose side you’re on,

But I am here for the people

Who work in grocery stores that glow in the morning

And close down for deep cleaning at night

Right up the street and in cities I mispronounce,

In towns too tiny for my big black

Car to quit, and in every wide corner

Of Kansas where going to school means

At least one field trip

To a slaughterhouse. I want so little: another leather bound

Book, a gimlet with a lavender gin, bread

So good when I taste it I can tell you

How it’s made. I’d like us to rethink

What it is to be a nation. I’m in a mood about America

Today. I have PTSD

About the Lord. God save the people who work

In grocery stores. They know a bit of glamour

Read the rest of the poem here.


Listen to A Conversation With Poet Jericho Brown by Tess Terrible and Lucy Nalpathanchil, June 30, 2020.

Linda Mitchell at her blog A Word Edgewise is hosting this weeks Poetry Friday roundup, thanks Linda! Linda wrote a powerful poem on rescuing “Liberty” and our US crimes that we need to own and change. 

Be safe, be well, and think about others.

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


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Poetry Friday– SOUNDS OF SUSURRUS… and Giraffes

Giraffe summer

Giraffe in Summer, © 2009 Michelle Kogan, pen and ink.


Happy Poetry Friday!

and Happy Summer!

 At the beginning of June Laura Purdie Salas, who is a poet, author, and member of a group of Poets known as the Poetry Princesses/Poetry Sisters/Poetry 7 posts, invited all their Poetry Friends who have been following their postings to join them in their monthly poetry challenge, which takes place on the last Friday of each month. Thanks to all the Poetry Sisters for extending this invitation! Here’s their challenge this month: “theme is susurrus, or an image of thick woods, whatever form we wish!”  I couldn’t escape susurrus-it’s sounds drew me in and wouldn’t let go… 


Susurrus surfaced some
200 years ago–shy six years…

It crept out quietly, 
from hum thrumming of cricket’s 
wings rubbing, while lost in lyrical love

It hung in evening air, filling all ears
with rushshshing hushshshing katydids
doing their stridulating summer thing

It beat its wings in bees, and
gave bigger winged one’s slooower beats,
and even looower busy buzzing

It hums through evening… Once thought silent, this
sleek giant, perhaps connects with others or catches dreams–
Let’s lift up our plummeting giraffe population…

Hum thrumming susurrus, wherever you come from
hum your heart away, and stay forever more…

 © 2020 Michelle Kogan

Make sure you turn your volume up, their hums are very low…


I came across this gem of a giraffe poem…

By Lucie Brock-Broido

In another life, he was Caesar’s pet, perhaps a gift from Cleopatra
When she returned to Rome   Her hair salty and sapphired
From bathing, the winged kohl around her eyes smudged
    From heat.   In another life, he was from Somalia
    Where he spent hours watching clouds
In shapes of feral acrobats tipping along their tightropes
Spun of camels’ hair and jute.
    His eyes were liquid, kind.
    His lashes each as long as a hummingbird’s tongue.
His fetlocks puffed from galloping, his tail curled upward
From the joy of feeling fleet across the tinted grasslands
    And the gold savannahs there.
             Do you find me colorful as well?
Once, in another life in the Serengeti, he stretched his neck
To feed on the acacia twigs, mimosa, wild apricot.
    He was gentle and his heart was as long
    As a human’s arm.
At night, the others of his species hummed to each other across
The woodlands there; no one knows how, exactly, to this day,
But you can hear their fluted sounds.
               Pliny the Elder wrote that,
In the circus of the hunting-theatres of ancient Greece,
    He would be safe.
    He was considered among the curiosities.
The House of the Medici found him novel,
And he pleased them mightily.
            Do you find my story pleasing, too?
Even on the ship to France,
            The sailors cut an oblong hole
Through the deck above the cargo hold to allow his head
    To poke safely through.
    When he arrived they dressed him in royal livery
To walk the seven hundred leggy kilometres
    From Marseilles to Paris to be presented
To the Queen     Who fed him rose petals from her hand.
At Thebes, in the tomb of the Valley of the Kings,
He was depicted in a hieroglyph, his forelegs gently tethered
By two slaves with a green monkey clinging to his neck like a child
Just along for the ride.
            Do you think I have imagined this?

Read the rest of the poem and hear the poet reading her poem here.

Karen Eastlund at her blog, Karen’s Got a Blog! is hosting this weeks Poetry Friday roundup, thanks Karen! She’s sharing some poems from her Norwegian heritage, and some very cut puppies too.

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


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Poetry Friday–Father’s Day and Change

1-Father and son fishing-6-17-2020

Father and Son Fishing, © 2020 Michelle Kogan, watercolor and pen.

Happy Poetry Friday

Happy Father’s Day
to all Dad’s out there, and in our memories…

And for June 19th,
Sign a petition

Visit nextgen america and sign their petition to have Juneteenth, “Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Black Fourth of July” designated “as a national day of observance as part of the fight for racial justice.” On this day, in 1865, two and half years after the initial Emancipation Proclamation was created, emancipation for enslaved African Americans finally reached  “the most isolated part of the nation” in Texas, and they were “informed of their liberation from slavery.” Juneteenth stands as a celebration of change–” and there’s much change that must happen!



Our fathers who 

tried when all else failed, 
Moved mountains of love and 
understanding despite our obstinance,   
Provided shoulders of comfort 
in turbulent teenage times… 
Balanced discord of others 
with caring guidance, 
Wrapped love around our mother’s 
honestly and passionately, 
Schooled us in empathy, compassion, 
and inclusiveness for all humanity, 
Were walked on, knocked down, but rose up
and again, and again… 
Encouraged our passions and 
always kept them alive…

© 2020 Michelle Kogan


A Father’s Day poem by Cuban American poet Orlando Ricardo Menes

By Orlando Ricardo Menes

In your uncle’s workshop by Havana Bay,
Your pudgy hands, stubby fingers turning
Lithe with wood, cloth, springs, bone, coir,
Your life a reverence to sawdust and burl
As you labored each day in the heat and the light,
Standing on a plank jacked up by bricks,
A ring of tools cuffed to your small wrist,
Your palms and soles callused to stone
As you fluted gadroons, flounced damask,
Beat down unruly tacks to martial rivets.
                                                        O padre mío,
I learned to craft words watching you sew
With the finest thread and not leave a trace—

Read the rest of the poem here


I was very taken by Terrance Hayes’ powerful poem GEORGE FLOYD:

You can be a bother who dyes
his hair Dennis Rodman blue
in the face of the man kneeling in blue
in the face the music of his wrist-
watch your mouth is little more
than a door being knocked
out of the ring of fire around
the afternoon came evening’s bell
of the ball and chain around the neck

Read the rest of the poem here.  There’s also an audio recording read by the poet.  




Tricial Stohr-Hunt at her blog,  The Miss Rumphius Effect is hosting this weeks Poetry Friday roundup, thanks for hosting Tricia! She’s sharing a golden shovel poem she built from a line taken from T. S. Eliot’s poem  The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. Be sure to stop by her blog for all the poetry collected there.

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



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Poetry Friday–Celebrating Nikki Grimes!


Happy Poetry Friday!

I’m happy to be part of the Poetry Friday celebration of awarding winning author, poet, and artist Nikki Grimes! I’ve read a handful of Nikki’s 75 + books and have many more waiting for me. What comes to mind when I think about her and her writing is her honesty and integrity to what she’s writing and creating. Although she claims that she was an introvert, she has throughout her writing career shared her writing, poetry, and process, via lectures, workshops, school visits, blog visits, and conferences in the US and around the world. Thanks for giving so much to all of us!

Thanks to Irene Latham who ignited the idea to honor Nikki Grimes, within and beyond the Poetry Friday Community, and who is also hosting this weeks roundup at her blog Live Your Poem!

Thinking about where to start this celebration of Nikki almost leaves me overwhelmed, for her full bodied spirit alone won’t fit within this post. How about beginning by visiting her own blog, Nikki Grimes The Poetry Zone, where you will find a cornucopia about Nikki, her writing, books, intriguing videos, and much more… Be sure to listen to her recent interview on Sree Sreenivasan’s  “@Sree’s Daily Covid19 Show #46: Poetry Night, in celebration of National Poetry Month,” 2020. Here she offers writers and poets who influenced her–most prominent being James Baldwin; how she serendipitously became specifically a children’s author/poet; how she’s coping in the current pandemic; and in addition she read many of her poems.

You can also find four different interviews of Nikki at Michelle Heidenrich Barnes’ blog Today’s Little Ditty. One includes a review of Nikki’s recent picture book, BOOK LOVE, on  Book Love: SOUTHWEST SUNRISE, May 7, 2020. A second includes an interview and shared mentor poems from her book’s BRONX MASQUERADE and BETWEEN THE LINES, on Classroom Connection with Nikki Grimes post, March 2, 2018.

Ordinary Hazards

Stop by Wordsong/Boyds Mills & Kane website for a review and video of Nikki’s new book ORDINARY HAZARDS A MEMOIR. I’ve chosen to share a poem from this book, which has received numerous awards and starred reviews including a Michael L. Printz Honor Book, a  Robert F. Sibert Honor Book, and starred reviews from The Horn Book, School Library Connection, Booklist, Shelf Awareness, Publishers Weekly, and BCCB.  Ordinary Hazards is, in her own words, her own story of darkness and light. A compelling piece of verse writing from her early beginning, of being tucked into a dresser drawer while living with her schizophrenic mother, and loved but absent father. Being shuffled from one foster home to another, and finding solace in writing at the early age of six.  How timely that her book has come to us during the corona virus, and how fortunate that she also offers us light, when all the world seeks it.


My father fed me
Invisible Man,
Native Son,
No Longer at Ease,
Black man’s Burden,
and the more I read,
the madder I got,
and I already
had reason
to scream,
but my father
kept me dreaming
of what words
I might bring
to the world.

© 2020 Nikki Grimes. All rights reserved.

With permission of Wordsong/Boyds Mills & Kane

Roses for Nikki, as she grows them and loves them…

1-Yellow rose of winter-2-13-2018 copy

Yellow Roses, © 2019 Michelle Kogan, pen and watercolor.

I’ve taken a line from Nikki’s poem MY BLACK ME, and wrote a golden shovel reflecting on our times, the protests going on, and the too many lives that have been lost. Thanks for your line Nikki!


Understand systemic racism, and say No
to Black and Brown inequality. Let it no Longer
linger, festering all aspects of life At
all levels. Begin Change now, turn pain into Ease.

© 2020 Michelle Kogan

More roses and a garden image, for Nikki’s a gardener too…

1a- Foster beach roses 10-24-2019Untitled_Panorama1 copy

Foster Beach Roses, © 2019 Michelle Kogan,  watercolor and watercolor pencil.


Victory garden -6-11-2020

Veggie Seedlings, © 2020 Michelle Kogan, pen and watercolor.

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



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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.



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