Saturday, September 1, 2012

Prompt #116 – Migrations

As summer winds down and we begin the month of September, autumn migrations – heralds of cooler air and bright colors – begin in my corner of the world. Many years ago, back in the days when I was active in the haiku community, I wrote a poem about migrating geese, which later became the title poem of a haiku collection. The poem was honored with a first place Henderson Award in 1984, and the book won the first place Merit Book Award for 1987. 

                                                      migrating geese –
                                                      once there was so much
                                                      to say

I haven’t thought of the poem or the book in years, but I did yesterday when a flock of geese, apparently in a pattern of early migration, flew above my back yard just as dusk began to settle. I thought then about that little poem and how it linked the seasonal migration of geese (nature) to the way a relationship had changed (human nature). It occurred to me that there are times in all of our lives when we find ourselves in a process of migration (not merely physical migration, but movement from one spiritual place to another, from one emotional place to another, from one relationship to another). 

I hope the idea of “migration” will capture your imagination this week. Think about it: birds and animals migrate; people migrate; migration is a way of marking time; migration is about journeying; migration is about change; migration is a state of mind. This week, let's write about a personal migration – your movement from one place to another (emotional, spiritual, actual). 

1. Begin with a freewrite and then look over what you’ve written to see which ideas you can work into a poem. 

2. Try to incorporate some nature imagery. 

3. Compare yourself (or something in your life) to a flock of migrating birds or to a single migrating bird. 

4. Write a persona poem from the perspective of a migrating bird, butterfly, or animal.

5. Try using “What The Wild Geese Know" as a title or theme. 

6. If you like haiku, try writing a migration haiku. Click Here for Info on Haiku.

7. If writing about a personal “migration” doesn’t come together for you, write about a bird, butterfly, or animal migration. (You might even try an immigration poem.)

Most importantly, think about the rich potential in migration for metaphor, imagery, and figurative language; go beyond the obvious; give your poem room to discover what lies behind its conscious subject – "migrate" beyond your poem's surface content to create layers of meaning!



  1. Another great idea that makes me think! The idea of spiritual migration especially interests me.

    I like the example poems and imagine that finding poems for this prompt wasn't an easy task. thanks, as always!


    1. Thanks, Jamie! You're right -- finding examples wasn't easy this week, but I'm happy with the ones I discovered, and I'm glad you like them too!

  2. Angels may not migrate
    they travel
    following a light source
    engulfing us
    enhancing that perfect day
    just to let us know
    they are here

    1. Angels! How wonderful to "connect" angels with the theme of "migration!" Thanks so much for sharing, Risa! I look forward to your weekly poems!

    2. Wonderful, Risa! Thanks for sharing!

  3. A pseudo haiku from the poem " L'estate di San Martino" di Giosuè Carducci:

    stormi d'uccelli neri,
    com'esuli pensieri,
    nel vespero migrar.

    black geese flocks migrate
    exiled toughts
    in the evening

    1. Beautiful, Jago! And definitely the sense of haiku in this poem from "L'estate di San Martino" di Giosuè Carducci. The image of black geese juxtaposed with "exiled thoughts" is stunning.

      Is this your translation?

      Many thanks for posting and sharing with us!

    2. Thanks for this, Jago! I always enjoy the poems you post!

  4. Yes, Adele, my translation.
    I hope old Giosuè Carducci forgive me!

  5. From " I PASTORI" by Gabriele D'Annunzio:

    Settembre, andiamo. E' tempo di migrare.
    Ora in terra d'Abruzzi i miei pastori
    lascian gli stazzi e vanno verso il mare:
    scendono all'Adriatico selvaggio
    che verde è come i pascoli dei monti

    The Shepherds

    September,come on. It's time to migrate.
    Now in the lands of Abruzzi my shepherds
    leave the folds and go down to the sea:
    down to the wild Adriatic
    green as the green mountain pastures are...

    Translation? My fault!

    1. Beautiful, Jago! A poem for September (though it still feels like high summer here with the heat and unbearable humidity).

      A wonderful translation. Thank you!

    2. Keep 'em coming, Jago! This one is really beautiful!

    3. Grazie, Jamie! Grazie,Adele!

    4. Grazie Adele, grazie Jamie!

  6. Thanks for this blog, Adele! I'm new to it and savoring every post and comment!

  7. My effort:

    S. Thomas Summers
    Author of Private Hercules McGraw: Poems of the American Civil War

    1. Thanks so much for posting and sharing, Scott! Your descriptions of the weapons are really superb - chilling, especially in this context. You really "get into the heads" of your characters. Bravo!

    2. S. Thomas Summers,

      I ordered a copy of your book from eBay and look forward to reading it.

      The poems you post are fantastic. Thank you.


  8. As a newcomer to this blog, I have to say how much I'm enjoying the prompts, the example poems, all the suggestions for writing, and the comments posted by readers. Thanks everyone!

  9. Like Rich, above, ^^^ I'm a newcomer here as well, and second everything he's said. Although I haven't posted any responses to the prompts yet, I've been working/enjoying them a lot lately.

    I'm working on this one from the perspective of "personal migration". My imagery is a bit different, but the idea of migration is there-- the kind of migration that begins to happen when you realize a relationship is over. At least that's at the core of this poem. It will be up on my blog on Tuesday, and I'll link back here. :-)

    Thanks so much for consistently providing all of us with such inspiring prompts!

    1. Thanks, Val!

      It's nice to "meet" you here on the blog, Val! I'm so glad to know that you're enjoying the prompts. Your poem idea sounds great - please provide us with a link to your blog.

  10. Okay, here is a link to my blog here: where you can read about my experience with this prompt and link to the poem from there, or you can just go directly to the poem here:

    I really enjoyed this prompt, and while I still consider this poem a draft, had a great time doing it, and am working on others based on this idea of migration. Thanks Adele!