Skip to content

HAIKU DIALOGUE – Migration – Internal Migration – commentary

Migration with Guest Editor Carole MacRury

Migration is the movement of people from one place to another, with the intention of resettlement. For thousands of years humans have moved and expanded their range over land bridges that no longer exist.  These early nomads followed the food, the climate or fled natural disasters. Historically, mass migration has shaped every country in the world through both conflicts and exploration. It continues today as our world grows smaller due to international trade and travel. There are many causes of international migration. Some people move in search of work or economic opportunity, to reunite with family or to study. My family fits into this category when we left Canada to study in the US, and never went back. Some move to escape conflict, persecution, or large-scale human rights violations. Still others move in response to the adverse effects of climate change, natural disasters, or other environmental factors. And some people were forcefully stolen from their countries to become slaves in another country. These migratory patterns shaped our countries. We wouldn’t be the same without the rich influx in immigrants who enriched our lives through their contributions in science, politics, technology, fashion, food, music, art and so much more. Most of us in the Americas can trace our roots back to another country. Indigenous people have their own unique stories to tell about the effects of colonization on their lives.  We’ll explore this rich topic for the next few weeks calling upon our own experiences with emigration, our own experiences with the migration of flora and fauna, and lastly, our internal migration within our own countries.

Below is Carole’s commentary for Internal Migration:

As always, after finishing up my session as guest editor of Haiku Dialogue, I come away knowing much more than when I came in the front door with my first prompt. Thank you everyone for accompanying me on this migratory journey through the past weeks. It’s been a joy. Each of the poems on the short list leave a white space that allows me, the reader, to connect to these artful words and images through my own life experiences. Hopefully, some of my thoughts will resonate with the poets, and if not, no matter. Others will gain even more insights than I may have touched upon. As a reader, I found each one of these poems striking.

relocation –
a refugee
in my own land

Katherine E Winnick
Brighton UK

Right away I felt the music of the English language in this haiku. The alliteration of ‘relocation/refugee’, the assonance within ‘relocation’ and ‘own’, all things that delight the mouth and the ear when read aloud. And it has the one thing I love most about haiku – understatement. We can’t know the reasons for the relocation, whether anticipated or forced, nor can we know the reason the person feels like a refugee, but we can certainly enter this haiku on an emotional level. Have they moved to a place where they don’t fit in? Is it time-related, such as returning home and feeling like a refugee because the world has gone on without them? Or like true refugees, are they facing various levels of persecution due to race, religion, and other forms of persecution? I, too, have felt like ‘a refugee in my own land’ on occasion.

changing soils
the price I paid
to bloom

Teji Sethi
Bangalore, India

I enjoyed the organic feel of ‘soils’. We all know that soils differ depending upon which area of a country one lives in. Rich and peaty, dry and sandy, or other combinations. Some plants thrive in one soil and wither in another. Unspoken, but what comes to mind is a person who has transplanted themself from one place to another at great cost. The blooming suggests a happy ending. But at what price? That is left for us to imagine. The analogy of life as a garden that requires nurturing works well. The alliteration of ‘price/paid’ also anchors and strengthens the second line, which almost works as a pivot.

hometown pub
the foreigner at the bar
is me

Keith Evetts
Thames Ditton UK

Here is another beautifully understated haiku. ‘Hometown pub’ offers up such a cozy scene, doesn’t it? And yet, suddenly, one finds oneself a foreigner at one’s hometown pub. If the poet had used “stranger at the bar”, it wouldn’t have resonated the same way. The choice of ‘foreigner’ puts a vast difference between what once was and what is now. There is no fitting in. I suppose it could also be a literal ‘foreigner’ making a visit to a local hometown pub, but that would be another haiku. What works for me is that someone can come back home after an absence and feel “a foreigner” in what once might have been a very comfortable and familiar setting. I like the way the poet owns this one with ‘is me’. This direction back to self is what evokes emotion in the reader. Haven’t we all felt this at some point in time?

with old boots
crossing the threshold
into a new life

Deborah Karl-Brandt
Bonn, Germany

My mind whirled when I first read this haiku. The idea of ‘old/new’ at first reminded me of a wedding, as in “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue”, and ‘crossing the threshold’ brought an image of a bride being carried over the threshold into her new home. However, I immediately found myself going deeper. I found the image of ‘old boots’ spoke of something different, not only the comfort of well-worn and broken-in boots, but perhaps the poverty of old boots. This set against being on the verge of a new life felt so positive, yet at the same time respected the old boots that got this person to this threshold of beginning a new life. On a larger scale of thought, don’t we always carry a bit of the past in a new life?

under a
wandering star —
another new home

Allison Douglas-Tourner
Victoria BC Canada

I was thrilled to read a haiku that took the prompt to the heavens! In ancient times the five planets that could be seen with the eyes were called wandering stars. Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn looked like moving stars against the far distant stars of the Milky Way that appeared to be fixed. I’m reminded a bit of the song Lee Marvin sang in Paint Your Wagon, “Wand’rin’ Star”, which suggests you can spend your whole life seeking yet never finding what you’re looking for. On a simpler plane, I felt keenly the speaker’s identification with a wandering star as they moved to yet another new home. Another trip around the sun comes to mind as we journey around our own star.

stranger in a strange city…
familiar faces
in an indie bookstore

Laurie Greer
Washington, DC

The special emphasis put on being a ‘stranger in a strange city’ worked well to build up to the unexpected moment of suddenly feeling not so strange. Entering an independent bookstore can be like finding your tribe, your family. Something you don’t necessarily feel in a large-scale chain bookstore. Independent bookstores are for seekers of books beyond commercial best sellers, and they often have a “used book” section too. There is a certain vibe that welcomes you, makes you feel at home. The repeat of ‘stranger/strange’ and the alliteration of ‘familiar faces’ invites the reader right into the heart of this haiku. An indie bookstore can feel like home when you’re new to a city, whether those familiar faces are books or people.

childhood home
someone else’s mom
at the kitchen window

Barrie Levine

This is a classic example of the power of “show not tell”. It allows the reader to experience this image from the perspective of their own childhood home. First, having a childhood home that is still standing is special. Mine, that I visited on occasion, was finally torn down, but I visited it from time to time. I looked at it from my car, feeling the ghost of my childhood within me and inside the house. But what makes this haiku so strong is the focus on ‘someone else’s mom’ in the kitchen window. Mom, the one we assume is the nurturer of children, especially as seen in a kitchen, the source of all family meals. Readers can bring a myriad of emotions to this scene. I know I did. I could sense the longing for not just one’s childhood memories, but for one’s mother. Houses are host to so many different memories as families come and families go.

God’s half acre
ten generations
of planting songs

marilyn ashbaugh
edwardsburg, michigan

I could hear the mournful, rhythmic songs of slaves as they worked the fields picking cotton when I first read ‘planting songs’. However, ‘God’s half acre’ took me to a Church graveyard holding generations of families who worked the fields. So, I’m between seeing actual gravesites and/or considering the phrase as a metaphor. A little of both, I think. The first line, the fragment, offers a clear image, and the two-line phrase, along with its auditory appeal, offers a bit of history and speculation. Who are these people? “God’s acre” is worth researching as the German word Gottesacker translates to “God’s field”, where the souls of the faithful are sown. However, I can’t get the refrains of southern slaves out of my head each time I read this haiku.

blue honeysuckle
they find another growth
in her breast

Adele Evershed
Wilton, Connecticut

I applaud the poet for feeling free to take Internal Migration to her own special place. This is obviously about an internal movement within the body, the spread of cancer. The entire poem is perfect in every way, and I don’t say that often. ‘Blue honeysuckle’ as the image in the first line connotes mood with ‘blue’ and ‘breast’ with ‘honeysuckle’, and further I feel a special resonance to the fact this is a wildflower. The fragment and phrase chime together in a very poignant way. Knowing that the berries of blue honeysuckle have anti-inflammatory benefits adds even more layers to this lovely poem.

on new soil—
taking root
me and my holy basil

Nalini Shetty
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

I loved the entire “gardening” aspect to this haiku with its resonating words ‘soil/root/holy basil’. We all know it takes time to settle in and feel comfortable when moving to a new place. We often think of it as “putting down roots” when we resettle into a new place. What I appreciated was the fact the speaker brought their favorite plant to also take root in new soil. A lovely little bit of home coming along to be transplanted just as the speaker is being transferred or moved to a new place. I will admit to enjoying the imaged scent of basil, one of my favorite herbs, until I did a bit of research on holy basil, which is not like Italian basil at all, but is called the Queen of Basils for its many health properties. It’s an Asian herb with a sweet, anise-like flavor used in tea and Thai dishes and has many health benefits. One can easily leap to the future when speaker and herb have blossomed and are enjoying a calming cup of tea.

my childhood homes
on both sides of the river
wild asters

Lori Kiefer

I appreciate this look back at one’s childhood homes. Of special significance is the phrase, ‘on both sides of the river’, which readers can interpret as two physical locations or perhaps as a subtle metaphor about living on opposite sides of a river. Comparisons like “the other side of the tracks” and “the poor side of town”, phrases that show a divide within a town, come to mind with the words ‘both sides of’. Here we have a river running between two homes. To live on both sides of the river seems cool to me as a physical location, but what brings it home for me is the final line, ‘wild asters’, which surely don’t care which side of the river they live on and are free to grow wherever they choose. There are layers to this poem left for each reader to discover on their own.

home town visit
I become a stranger
amongst strangers

Mona Bedi
Delhi, India

I seem to have gravitated toward more than one poem that repeats ‘strange’ or ‘stranger’. But they are entirely different poems. But the rhetorical effect works well in both. This poem speaks to “coming home”, a moment that I, as reader, can relate to well. First, repeating the words ‘stranger amongst strangers’ speaks volumes and asks us to consider what that feels like, and what it may mean. My own interpretation leant itself toward all the changes that happen when one moves away from one’s hometown. Life goes on without us, people grow older, people die. A town becomes bigger or as usually happens, suddenly feels so small. People grow up. People change, those who are still living in their hometown, and those of us who come home to visit. At some point the divide is strong and it becomes difficult to regain any sense of familiarity or connection to one’s hometown except through memories.


Join us next week for our next prompt…


Guest Editor Carole MacRury resides in Point Roberts, Washington, a unique peninsula and border town that inspires her work. Her poems have won awards and been published worldwide, and her photographs have been featured on the covers of numerous poetry journals and anthologies. Her practice of contemplative photography along with an appreciation of haiku aesthetics helps deepen her awareness of the world around her. Both image and written word open her to the interconnectedness of all things, to surprise, mystery and a sense of wonder. She is the author of In the Company of Crows: Haiku and Tanka Between the Tides (Black Cat Press, 2008, 2nd Printing, 2018) and The Tang of Nasturtiums, an award-winning e-chapbook (Snapshot Press 2012).

Lori Zajkowski is the Post Manager for Haiku Dialogue. A novice haiku poet, she lives in New York City.

Managing Editor Katherine Munro lives in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, and publishes under the name kjmunro. She is Membership Secretary for Haiku Canada, and her debut poetry collection is contractions (Red Moon Press, 2019). Find her at:

The Haiku Foundation reminds you that participation in our offerings assumes respectful and appropriate behavior from all parties. Please see our Code of Conduct policy.

Please note that all poems & images appearing in Haiku Dialogue may not be used elsewhere without express permission – copyright is retained by the creators. Please see our Copyright Policies.

Photo Credits:

Banner photo credit:
©<ahref=’‘>somchai20162516</a>, <a href=’‘>123RF Free Images</a>

Prompt photo credit:
prompt photo three – Internal Migration – Carole MacRury

Haiku Dialogue offers a triweekly prompt for practicing your haiku. Posts appear each Wednesday with a prompt or a selection of poems from a previous week.


This Post Has 21 Comments

  1. Hello, the haiku works are really great, but so are the comments. Congratulations and congratulations to EVERYONE!
    And my question:
    Do we have a topic for next Wednesday?
    Thank you for the answer.

  2. A beautiful collection this week. Thank you, Carole, for guiding us through the immigration prompts, which I especially enjoyed.

  3. Thank you for a thought-provoking set of prompts, Carole. I enjoyed writing for them and reading all your selections and commentaries.
    The ‘internal migration’ particularly resonated with me as I have now moved quite a few places within my country though not too far from my hometown.

    I especially liked the below verse of Teji’s as it relates to my story too:

    changing soils
    the price I paid
    to bloom

    Teji Sethi
    Bangalore, India

    1. Thank you Amoolya,

      What I loved about Teji’s poem is that the reasons for ‘changing soils’, to bloom are not stated. It stands on its own as being all about moving location to location (soil to soil) in order to bloom, however, also has a metaphoric reading for discerning readers.

  4. Carole I loved every haiku and the beautiful commentary by you. Barrie’s poem was a standout for me. Bringing back many memories as I too had a similar experience visiting my childhood home which is still standing.

    1. Thank you Margaret! And also for your comments on Barrie’s poem. I’m happy to hear it resonated with you too.

  5. Absolutely stoked to find my ku up for a commentary.Thank You Carole MacRury for your thoughts on my write. This means a lot to me.

    1. You are so welcome Nalini. It’s a lovely sensory poem with deep meaning. And I learned something about ‘holy basil’ too!

  6. Thank you so much, Carole, for this fantastic series of prompts. I have found the whole journey quite moving (ha, I didn’t realize the pun until now). Your commentary has been exquisite throughout.

    I found this poem particularly meaningful as this happened to my mother a year ago. Your work is so powerful, Adele.

    blue honeysuckle
    they find another growth
    in her breast

    Adele Evershed
    Wilton, Connecticut

    1. Thank you so much Eavonka. Adele’s poem is exquisite. The juxtaposition of ‘blue honeysuckle’ with the spread of breast cancer offers many layers of thought.

      1. Thank you Carole for your thoughtful commentary. You understood everything I was trying to do perfectly!
        And thank you Eavonka- coping with a cancer diagnosis in a loved one can leaves you feeling so helpless – it’s a devastating disease for everyone it touches.
        I have very much enjoyed these prompts- I found them challenging and was surprised at what they brought to the surface so thank you again Carole!

  7. Thanks, Carole MacRury, for being an expert guest editor again with your selections and comments. It’s been enjoyable reading others’ experiences of strangeness as strangers in strange lands, which, after all, is the condition we all share as earthly and spiritual pilgrims.

    1. Thank you Richard. I agree, that so many of the poems touched on what I feel as our ‘existential loneliness’, all part of the human condition.

  8. Thank you Carole for choosing my poem for this excellent feature, full of soulful but beautifully crafted poems on a subject that draws out our deepest connections.
    In my childhood, our kitchen window faced the neighboring kitchen window, and my mom Rose and her friend Madge would check in with each other across the alley while doing the breakfast dishes. Bygone days ….

    1. Oh yes, Barrie, those bygone days! Another level of your poem that relates only to me, is that I also recalled a childhood dream I had where I looked in a window to see my mother and another girl, not me. An imposter…I must have been insecure in those days. But I also remembered the ‘dutch doors’, where the top half swung open so mothers could visit each other. Whew…that was a long time ago!

  9. Thank you, Carole, for the prompts, the comments, and the selection of one of mine! Honored to be among this group of strangers. Yes, indie bookstores can be real refuges. I washed up in one after a traumatic time (which included several relocations in a short span, loss of grad school and job) and have never left. People can become instant friends when they have books in common.

    1. Thanks for sharing a bit of the backstory to your lovely haiku Laurie. That is a lot to happen to one! I am no stranger to lonliness as a young unmarried young women eons ago. I should have gone looking for an Indie Bookstore! But instead, I was working, in my first apartment and looking out the window at a wall of windows each, withother people living behind them, none of which I knew, or expected to know. I’ve never been a city girl since then really….

  10. Dear Carole, thank you for choosing my poem. This series struck me deeply, but also soothed my soul, because four months ago I was told that I will have to give up the apartment I have lived in for the last ten years. After twenty years in this city, I will have to move to another one, and this is a difficult time for me. There is a certain coldness that I cannot suppress, because every hour I feel the uncertainty of life and the transitions that we all experience when we live it. So, yes… this poem is about change and transitioning into a hopefully bright future.

    1. Deborah, I wish you well on your new move and hope that in time, it feels as comfy and familiar to you as your old apartment. It’s true, that change is hard once we make a place our ‘home’. But home is where you are and I feel certain your move will end up being new and exciting!

  11. Many thanks, Carole. More excellent commentaries; and an outstanding series of prompts. I know they caused me a great deal of reflection as I keep neglecting my memoirs… Thank you for all the thought that went into them, and the work on digesting and commenting on them.

    I was eager to leave the place I was raised and after more than fifty years it holds no ties for me. I’ve moved a dozen times within UK. I spent twenty years of my working life living in seven other countries, ranging from the poorest to the richest, engaged with international politics, sometimes war or its threat. On leave or posting home, my friends would say “that must be interesting” then, endearingly, immediately change the subject to house prices etc. With each posting abroad I became a little more of a foreigner in the country of my birth. My wife, whose father was in the armed forces and moved periodically, and who also joined the office, likewise. Only now, in retirement, have we settled: apart from the wandering pull of autumn.

    1. I know that feeling Keith, although not to the degree you have with all of your moves and the fascinating career that took you to all these places. One thing I found out, after only 7 moves…going back, life went on, and there were few questions about what our live was like! I found out, with family, absence does not make the heart grow fonder. Their daily lives go on without us.

Comments are closed.

Back To Top