The Canada Geese used to migrate each year.
They’d summer up there and spend winter down here.
Their nests were in Canada, home of their birth.
From there they would fly to the ends of the earth.

Each Spring they would longingly turn their eyes home
And fly back the very same way that they’d come.
The migrating flocks took the shape of a “vee,”
Which helped them to fly a long way easily.

The geese would take turns flying point for a mile
Before drifting back to the rear for a while.
While flying, they honked in an odd sort of way
And took a rest stop at the end of each day.

A long time ago, in a storm, some geese strayed
And came to Hawaii and there they all stayed.
They gave up on flying and walked on the ground.
Today they’re called Nēnēs, and they’re still around.

Back here in America, some years ago,
When Winter was over, and after the snow,
The Canada Geese stopped migrating back north,
And gave up their annual trip back and forth.

Today they inhabit the oddest locales,
Including Lake Tahoe, the Bronx, and The Dalles.
On golf courses, city parks, rivers and streams,
They live and they poop where they choose, so it seems.

I guess this makes sense since all Nature is free.
And geese can cross borders with impunity.
For them there is no forty-ninth parallel,
No passports, or visas, or Liberty Bell.

Today, immigration’s on everyone’s mind;
And turning away refugees seems unkind.
But whether or not there’s a fence or a wall,
A borderless nation’s no nation at all.

Some people believe that we all should be geese,
That human-made borders should vanish and cease.
I think that, in part, I agree with these words,
And hold that such sentiments are for the birds.


James A. Tweedie is a recently retired pastor living in Long Beach, Washington. He likes to walk on the beach with his wife. He has written and self-published four novels and a collection of short stories. He has several hundred unpublished poems tucked away in drawers.

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7 Responses

  1. Martin Rizley

    Great punch line! Very well-written, witty poem, with a natural, “conservational” flow to the language, clever turns of phrase and imagery, and a strong rhythm. Sometimes humor can be a powerful yet gentle way of dispelling the fog of confusion with a fresh gust of common sense!

  2. Amy Foreman

    I agree with Martin, James! The punch line is very clever, and the strong cadence, along with the Suessian phraseology (“They live and they poop where they please, so it seems”) combine to make this a fun, good-natured, gentle lampoon on the “open borders” agenda.

  3. James Sale

    Very deft writing – nice, James. Not aggressive but you carry a powerful punch. As Robert Frost didn’t exactly say, Good borders make good neighbours. All real art comes from having real limitations; this is very good.

  4. Mark Stone

    James, I like the anapestic meter, the rhyming of “locales” and “The Dalles,” the double alliteration in line 4 (there they & ends/earth), and the clever ending. What caught my eye was how the third syllable of “refugees” has the emphasis:

    And TURNing aWAY refuGEES seems unKIND.

    This struck me as odd because when I pronounce the word, I emphasize the first syllable. I then rewrote the line to reflect my pronunciation:

    And TURNning back REFugees MAY seem unKIND.

    But then I checked my dictionary and the Internet, and I learned that both pronunciations are correct. Thank you for teaching me about the pronunciation of this word!

    • James A. Tweedie

      LOL You are very welcome! Even so, I think your revision is every bit as good as my original!

  5. David Watt

    I think you demonstrate that anapestic meter, when employed skillfully, is one of the best forms for storytelling.

    Borders provide not only boundaries, but also a sense of place and belonging.
    You have clearly expressed this fact in the line:
    “A borderless nation’s no nation at all.”


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