Poetry Friday–Peace and Rosh Hashanah

I’m offering  up some heartfelt poetry and art (WIP, detail) for Poetry Friday–and this  full week, filled with spirtualism,  religious holidays, and social activism.

Wednesday night began the Jewish Holiday Rosh Hashanah, one of the Jewish high holidays, where Jews celebrate the New Year and begin to reflect on their sins over the past year. It culminates 10 days later on the Holiest of Jewish holidays Yom Kippur–this is the “Day of Repentance” where Jews take responsibility for their sins, through prayer. A favorite food to share for the New Year is apples dipped in honey, for hopes of a sweet New Year.

Thursday is the International Day of Peace, and the theme this year is “Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for All.” This year the United Nations is focusing on respect, dignity, and safety for all those having to leave their homes in efforts of finding a “better life.” Here’s a link to read more about the 2017 International Day of Peace 

I’ve been writing peace poems this week. In my first peace poem I was thinking about the fall, a time of harvest, and the Jewish New Year. I also wanted to connect these thoughts positively with our current times.


Peace opens her door each year, when we welcome falls harvest,
Envy has no place at Peace’s table, nor does greed, hunger, or destruction.
Allow peace to fill your palate with altruistic acts of kindness, generosity, and humility.
Carry a piece of Peace with you at this seasonal changing time of year–and
Examine her virtues within your heart–share them vast and wide with your multi-diverse neighbors throughout our small world.

© 2017 Michelle Kogan


 I continued to ponder on more about peace and what it means to me, I thought of water and crossing waters. This brought me to Jimmy Cliff and his song Rivers of Babylonwhich one of my peace poems branched from. 


“By the rivers of Babylon,”
By the shores of “gitchi-gami,”
By the oceans of the Bering Strait,
By the body of water
that connects one
human being to another,
Let peace pass between,
and wrap around our 
far and wide,
washing us in 
waves of 
wisdom, and 
hope for all

And as Jimmy Cliff sang:
“So, let the words of our mouth
And the meditation of our heart
Be acceptable in Thy sight
Oh Fari.”

© 2017 Michelle Kogan

Peaceful wishes to all!
Amy Ludwig VanDerwater is hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup, thanks Amy! She just   celebrated her book birthday for her new book, READ! READ! READ! Be sure to stop by her blog, The Poem Farm, for the roundup and more!


Posted in Children's Illustration & Writing, Holidays, Nature, Painting, Pencil Drawing, Plein Air Art, Poem, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Poetry Friday, FREE–AN ECHO TO LANGSTON HUGHES–Golden Shovel


Sharing a WIP watercolor along with my golden shovel poem, FREE–AN ECHO TO LANGSTON HUGHES. The poem reflects on this past weeks hurricanes and again our times. I feel everyone ought  to be able to dream, although this simple act is often denied to many. My Poem is a golden shovel that I built from Langston Hughes poem, I DREAM A WORLD. Kay McGriff shared, this poem last week, and I was very taken by it, thanks Kay! 

I’ve been wanting to paint my nasturtiums and have put it off for lack of time, and too much work. I carved out a few hours yesterday to get going on them. They are kind of a magical plant and I think they offer opportunity–and freedom offers this too! They are at their grandest in the fall, when they’ve had a chance to fully grow, fill out in their magical roundness and offer many blooms. I’m offering hope–which is hard to grab on to when you’ve lost everything–to all those who have been affected by this last weeks horrible hurricanes and storms.

The Poetry Friday Roundup is being hosted by Michelle Heidenrich Barnes at Today’s Little Ditty, thanks Michelle! Michelle’s featuring abecedarian poems this month that were inspired by her featured poet, Carole Boston Weatherford. Be sure to stop by Michelle’s blog, she’s offering up a hearty collection of poems.


When winds and rain have blown away, A
New day will open her eyes on our small World,
with pain and loss that you and I
can’t even begin to Dream.
But, let’s begin Where
Loss left off, where Black
is beautiful, without an Or,
Where White
unites whatever
your religion or Race
may be. YOU are unique, YOU
 are special! Be
bold, step forward, Will
this empowerment on yourself, Share
this gift to empower, and The
wheels of humanity will build Bounties
of community, Of
caring for all, The
downtrodden, the weak and the brazen of our small Earth.
We share our air, water, And
soil, each and Every
One of us–Animal, child, woman, and Man.
A life is full, a life is rich, when a life Is

© 2017 Michelle Kogan



Posted in Children's Illustration & Writing, Nature, Painting, Pencil Drawing, Plein Air Art, Poem, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Poetry Friday–A Villanelle:HUMANITY


September Morning Glories, watercolor and watercolor pencil, © 2017 Michelle Kogan

I have been lost in the sea of events unfolding in the U.S.A. and around the world. The times seem ever so precarious. I’ve taken to my pen to try to understand and share my thoughts. For Poetry Friday I’m sharing a villanelle that I wrote after recently attending a workshop on them at the Poetry Foundation. The instructor there is excellent, Maggie Queeney, she focused on our creating a villanelle that comes from a personal loss. I decided to take this a bit further and look at a loss that has happened in our country. I am at heart an optimist, so as I was creating closure for this poem I wanted to have it end on a more positive note, which is not always the case in life or in these poems. The accompanying WIP art is a breath of humanity–which includes benevolence, and what better to include than a symbol of my love for beauty and nature.



Let me hold you tightly in my arms,
breathe as one as if the air has cleared,
we’ll wrap away days troubles and storms.

Remember there are truths beneath the lies,
meanings of all colors emerge, though marred–
Let me hold you tightly in my arms.

Listen to the demoralizing cries,
listen between lines for what’s disappeared,
we’ll wrap away days troubles and storms.

Humanity has donned an ugly disguise,
soul-searching–has this quality become feared?
Please, let me hold you tightly in my arms.

Heavens open wide with wise reprise,
guide even those who have racketeered,
we’ll wrap away days troubles and storms.

See through a child’s future eyes,
and seek a day when all nations are revered.
Let me hold you tightly in my arms,
and we’ll wrap away day’s troubles and storms.

© 2017 Michelle Kogan

Here’s a link for the structure of a villanelle at Academy of American Poets

And here’s a villanelle by Elizabeth Bishop. You can read the rest at the Poetry Foundation.


By Elizabeth Bishop
The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.
Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.
Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.
Matt Forrest Esenwine is hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup this week at, Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme. Thanks Matt! He also has a new enchanting book that’s just about out called, Flashlight Night. Be sure to stop by his blog for more info on his book and lots more poems!



Posted in Children's Illustration & Writing, Nature, Painting, Plein Air Art, Poem, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Poetry Friday Oatmeal for all

I’m sharing a poem that I composed earlier this week, the thoughts are reflections for the people who’ve all been affected by hurricane Harvey. I’m posting this from my phone while on a mini college visit with my daughter in NYC. (Image: viewing Chicago from the dunes restoration in Rogers Park.)


Making oatmeal,

not quick oats or 

instant oats

the 12-15 minute oatmeal,

the pool of history

oatmeal that 

stirs up



the oatmeal 

an arms distance

from the stove 

you stood and

cooked and

focused or


pools of childhood


the pot–

old, thin,


even it’s shape

bumped out here

and there,

that pot alone

had personality,

but what d’you

get from making 


that’s the real 







how can you

bring up 

money with


but some 

need money 

because all is 


share oatmeal 

with those 

who have 



© 2017 Michelle Kogan 

The Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted this week by Kathryn Apel, thanks Kat! Stop by her blog https://katswhiskers.wordpress.com/for more poetry! (Hope this link takes you there.)

Posted in Nature, Poem, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 29 Comments

Poetry Friday: Poem Swap & Response

I received a surprise envelope all the way from tropical Hawaii this week. With these lovely drawings and haiku to accompany. They came from Joy Acey, and she also sent me a beautiful card with a view of their “island light house,” at Kilauea, that looks down into the magical cobalt and cerulean blue waters. Thank you for these tropical treasures Joy!  

1-Joy-Acey-red-ginger-8-24-2017     1-Joy-Acey-In-Grass-Petals-8-24-2017

Hawaiian ginger                                                  In the grass
red torches light up the night                           shower trees
scenting the air                                                   rain down petals
Joy Acey © 2017                                                   Joy Acey © 2017



In a crystal vase
Bird of Paradise dances
yearning to fly
Joy Acey © 2017

Also at Kilauea, Joy mentioned there is a bird sanctuary, and one of the birds there is the Nēnē Hawaiian Goose, (pronounced Nay-Nay). As a response and thank you I’m sharing this painting that I did a while back of the Nēnē and a few haiku. I have for a long time been creating art on many endangered species to shed more light on their plight. Here’s more info about the Nēnē.  Fortunately the Nēnē have made a remarkable come back in Hawaii, and I hope this continues. I used a bit of fantasy and set my  Nēnē in one of the tropical greenhouses of our Chicago Botanic Garden. As I was painting it, I had a few people ask me if the birds were in the area. Joy also talked about these additional birds in this same sanctuary, Shearwaters, Egrets, Albatross, and the Red Footed Booby. This last bird is stunning and I will return to it for both painting and writing.


nēnē visits
imaginary tropics
longing for home.

hawaiian nēnē
need native habitat
to survive

nēnē transforming
claw feet carry them across
their lava land.

©2017 Michelle Kogan

This weeks Poetry Friday Roundup is being hosted by Jone MacCulloch, thanks Jone! Stop by her blog for more poems at Check it out, 

P.S. Slipping in a slight add for myself …

I’m having a SALE in my online Etsy Shop:
Michelle Kogan Fine Art
(Nēnē’s are there as cards and prints)

Pre~Post Labor Day Sale,
through September 17, 2017



Posted in ACEO, Cards, Children's Illustration & Writing, Haiku, Halloween, Holidays, Home, Nature, Painting, pen sketch, Pencil Drawing, Picture Book, Picture Book Sketches, Plein Air Art, Poem, Quick Sketches, Sketchbooks, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 32 Comments

Sail over to my SALE in my Etsy Shop!

There’s all different ways to Sail …

1-Cotorra Volando © M Kogan 5-14-2016

Through the air …



Through water …



Through a river …


3 Sailboats Journal Cover and pages 11-19-2015

Through writing …




Sail by for my Sale in my online Etsy Shop:

Michelle Kogan fine art

through September 17, 2017

Thanks, Michelle  

Posted in ACEO, Cards, Children's Illustration & Writing, Haiku, Halloween, Holidays, Nature, Painting, pen sketch, Pencil Drawing, Picture Book, Picture Book Sketches, Plein Air Art, Poem, Quick Sketches, Sketchbooks, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

ECLIPSE 2017 & the state of things …



Celestial stirrings filled the air
Darkness is coming, you best beware.
Moon between our earth and sun
Blocking light, are we undone?
No peeking, no solar glass hardware.

Eclipse, eclipse, hurry now, ready
Helter-skelter, stay focused–steady
Start your list: solar glasses
Almost sold in all classes,
I must have some, said stubborn Freddie!

NO light–Becoming night in daytime!
Who’ll behold our truths, through day’s dark slime?
Who’ll guide where our guidance flails?
Shed light on woeful dark tales,
Freddie in day’s dark, erase the grime.

©2017 Michelle Kogan

Wishing all a safe and intriguing eclipse!

Posted in Children's Illustration & Writing, Michelle's Art Classes, Nature, pen sketch, Pencil Drawing, Poem, Quick Sketches, Sketchbooks, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Heather Heyer Righteous Actions! & Edna St. Vincent Millay

It’s been quite a harried week in the U.S.of A. and around our small world. The events of Charlottesville haven’t left my mind–I’ve taken to my words and drawing to express my anguish at this atrocity, and my need for continued action to somehow right our path in this turmoil. But the anger is deep and righting these wrongs won’t happen overnight. This week this is my small contribution towards getting a word out for justice and against racism. I’m borrowing Poetry Friday for my bully pulpit, thanks for your ear.



Heavy hearts fill the world with your loss, but
Each Just choice you chose will multiply:
Always caring for others,
Taking action when faced with danger,
Holding high principles that benefit all,
Engage individuals holding contrasting views–
Righteous causes called you

Heather Heyer, we’ll hold your values high, and follow your
Example of choosing compassion over revenge,
Your refusing to accept racism, in
Every ugly mask it parades in, and we’ll forever favor your

©2017 Michelle Kogan

A Poem also seeking Freedom and Justice by Edna St. Vincent Millay. I picked up this copy of There Are No Islands, Any More, last year while at the Newberry Library’s book sale. Read the rest of her poem here- The New York Times




I think more poetry is in order this week, so be sure to stop by Kay McGriff’s blog A Journey through the Pages, for the Poetry Friday Roundup, where she’s also focused on the tragedy in Charlottesville. Thanks for hosting this week Kay! She has also offered us: A Five-Step Toolkit for Dealing with White Supremacists in the Age of Trump. 





Posted in Pencil Drawing, Poem, Sketchbooks, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

Poetry Friday Seagull, Beach, & Water …

As the summer seems to be slipping away, I’m sharing poems of seagulls, beaches, and water for Poetry Friday. I finally spent a few hours at the lake this week intending on sketching, but visited with my friend more. A bit before I had to leave I quickly sketched this lovely Chicago seagull, and yes our water was a Mediterranean blue.


sand, seagull splash
chicago calm.
© 2017 Michelle Kogan

Dear lady of deep-layered waters
stretching out for all colors, sizes, and points of view
welcoming us all season upon season
calling us like a siren in the summer
tempting us to eschew our daily demands
rewarding us with your Mediterranean demeanor
reminding us of your cool Midwestern shores
refresh our stubborn perspectives
rejuvenate our inner callings
renew our care for one another
take care precious lady of deep-layered waters
asking nothing in return but to return again

©2017 Michelle Kogan


A beach poem by Babette Deutsch, read the rest of her poem at the Poetry Foundation

How like a tireless lover the huge sea
Curves to the land, caresses it, retreats,
Slowly returns: as though the naked sand,
Moved by what that hushed husky voice repeats,
Would answer with salt lip. As though it silently
Must open to the touch of those unerring hands.
What flank is smoother than the hollow of 
The curling comber? What wild feather is 
Like the tossed plume those wild white wings unfurl
Before they fade in twinkling foam? this motion
Never wavers, but is never quiet.
This wandering will always find its home
Upon the shore’s wide lap, Still undefiled
Are these immensities. But they are grave:
The unresting sea, the shore that suffers it
To come and go and come again. Their look


Enjoy some of our lingering summer days by some water … Thanks to Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche for hosting Poetry Friday. Stop by her blog for the Poetry Friday Roundup, and a birthday celebration filled with more poems.





Posted in Children's Illustration & Writing, Haiku, Nature, Painting, Pencil Drawing, Plein Air Art, Poem, Quick Sketches, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 31 Comments

Poetry Friday Book Spine and Found Poetry


I had the great pleasure of partaking in Chicago’s Newberry Library’s Summer Book Sale this past Sunday. I’m sharing my treasures that I found there. I created a found book spine poem from them for Poetry Friday. I had so much fun with this one, I included a second poem below from a new book and some older ones. I’ve also included links below on more found and book spine poetry.




Selected poems
of William Butler Yeats,
The Emperor
Fool of the world, and
The nightingale,
Secrets of wonder,
of great art,

©2017 Michelle Kogan


Bees are few
Hunger edges
Second sight!

© 2017 Michelle Kogan

Blogs with info on Book Spine Poetry–how to and photos:
Ken Nesbitt’s Poetry4kids

 The Association for Library Service to Children ALSC Blog

Book Riot BookRiot

Alycia Zimmerman Scholastic

The Poetry Friday Roundup is being hosted this week by Donna JT Smith at Mainly Write, thanks for hosting  Donna! Drop by her blog for more Poetry Friday poems.

Posted in Children's Illustration & Writing, Nature photos, Poem, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 31 Comments