Books for Poets | Mailing List | Copyrights | About Us


Poets Online Archive



August 2010

The first poem by Ezra Pound I encountered as a student is the often-anthologized, haiku-like "In a Station of the Metro."

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.

I later encountered his poem "Taking Leave of a Friend" which is our model for this prompt.

Ezra Pounda is generally considered the poet most responsible for defining and promoting a modernist aesthetic in poetry. He helped promote the writing and influenced contemporaries such as W. B. Yeats, Robert Frost, William Carlos Williams, Marianne Moore, H. D., James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, and T. S. Eliot.

Pound fostered Imagism, a movement in poetry that was heavily influenced by classical Chinese and Japanese poetry and which stressed clarity, precision, economy of language and not the use of traditional rhyme and meter which was popular in the Romantic and Victorian poetry that came before Pound.

Pound described some rules of Imagism including:
1. Direct treatment of the "thing", whether subjective or objective.
2. To use absolutely no word that does not contribute to the presentation.
3. As regarding rhythm: to compose in sequence of the musical phrase, not in sequence of the metronome.

These qualities are obvious in his often-anthologized, haiku-like poem titled "In a Station of the Metro"

But the poem of his I used as a model this month is the longer "Taking Leave of a Friend" from Selected Poems of Ezra Pounda.  It's a poem that creates a strong image for me of the parting of friends, but not through a narrative, or even with a picture of the friends, but through the image of the setting that mirrors the feelings of the friends. The influence of Chinese and Japanese poetry is also very evident in the poem.

Our writing prompt this month is a poem in Pound's imagiste style. By that I mean a poem that is (probably) short, stripped of excessive language, directly treating a "thing" (subjective or objective), without traditional rhyme or meter but perhaps with rhythm (as in a musical phrase), and focuses on one single image.

For more about Pound and his influence on other poets, especially William Carlos Williams whom he met at the University of Pennsylvania, read the accompanying post on the Poets Online blog.

Read other poems by Pound.


Standing at one end,
looking down the morning train,
as it emerges from its tunnel
onto the sunsplashed Manhattan Bridge.

The faces of these travelers,
largely calm, impassive,
as they align this carriage,
their bodies gently wavering,
like so many grassy stems in a subaquatic passage.

Robert Stribley


One speckled ox pulls the plough
furrow to furrow.
The young man holds the handles,
the ploughshare roots him
under an orange sun. He measures its
circumference row by row.
At night the plough rises
into stars
over this field,
its wheat less sparse
than last year.

Taylor Graham


Much was expected of the green wheel barrow
Now tipped on its side on the sunny hill
Near San Sebastien.

First as the refuge of the little boy,
When Franco’s bombs fell amid a crying of horses and bulls,
And the worse silence of a baby in its mother’s arms;

Then as the ambulance for a brother who ran too slowly in Pamplona,
Whose his red bandana hid the goring wound,
Until it was too late;

And lastly, as a conveyance for a bomb, concealed beneath a load of straw,
Secreted beneath the Mayor’s palace window,
Which, if it had gone off, would have set all Basques free;

And now, it’s abandoned,
Free to any tired pilgrim following the shells
Of the holy way to Santiago de Compostela,

To kiss the shell above the entrance and save his soul.
Anyone may have the green wheel barrow for his own,
Provided he pushes another before him.

Ron Yazinski


a field of poppies lies
beneath a red sunset
august moon on the rise

mulberries heavy with
rain drop into tiny pools of
muddied water

in the shadows
a blush of starlight
reflects the magenta glow

my head wedged between
the bedpost and a dream
warps my perception

marie a. mennuto-rovello


It is best to be taken
the way the August breeze
interrupts a tattered hammock
with nothing in it,
surreptitious and alone
so no one sheds a tear
except the two oak trees
that never got to hold you.

Patrick Shea


cascading through the dirty coffee shop window
kissing my skin like butterflies on a summer day
shines a yelloworange light that
knowingly embraces my body as a long lost lover
having been departed for years
coming back as the prodigal one

Rhian Beutler


The trees at attention
All around the house where we lived--
Mourners at a casket’s side,
Clouds stream over like waters
We will never be clean of these
words of gravel, words like blades
Wound and wound again.

One tall cloud passes over,
a spaceship making shadow
beneath, all greens are gray
I am thinking: love is dead
I remember: that’s just what you said.

Patty Tomsky


The affect rain pounding a tin roof has
on the dry minds of the people beneath
shocking their sense a steady intrusion
incessant in beating for attention
a hand down the throat a knife cutting eyes
yanking guts out betraying sense for coins
cowardly abeyance of real desire
in an age that demands it for black ink

If a man is measured by his labors
what is a man who cleans horse stables worth
far more than the owner of the horses
one would think otherwise it’s a lie
stables are caged and roofed to break horses
a free man would get on the horse and ride
out - to a place where he makes his own mind
away from tin roof noise and hourly wage

It’s a nut house without a roof he wrote
the men in the white coats took him away
caged where they fried his brain like eggs for laughs
a treasonous threat to status quo whips
including history for paradise
obstinate folks prefer repetition
they set him free after a long rest cured
to pisans admitting defeat in fog

Now the message long forgotten
a lost home spins in new chaos
rare reflection of the beauty
failed it for a foolish hatred
his rain battering his tin roof
tossing him a garden apple
paradise wrecked by the mortal
a map for direction remains

Craig Stormont


Five mouths to feed—
A wife, an infant, one five, one ten, and him.
He is an immigrant house painter
Working by the hour, not protected by the union.
But he is steady and reliable, on the job every day.
The owner has had enough, ready to retire.
Sells the business to the painter over time,
Enough contracts outstanding to feed five mouths and more--
The American dream.

Ellen Kaplan


Eyes on 191 heading north
a U-haul carries what
remains of my curdled life.
Horizons widen through
pulsing fields and
my heart reaches back
toward him with tentacles
I sever then burn dead
beneath this never-ending sky.

Brenda Warren


Like the summer, I am dying;
Cricket, time-bomb of autumn, ticks away;
Locust chatters and whines fainter now;
A single, yellow leaf spirals down from the still-green maple;
But warmth yet inhabits the breeze;
Birdsong runs rampant through branches overhead,
And fearless, blue sky reigns supreme;
Like the summer, I am dying--
But not today!

Barbara Caldwell


with the white, crumpled sheets
and silvery grey light
pining through the curtains
as sirens distant wail; a cloak of fog
resting gently over the neighbouring hills.
The mist stroking the backs of the sheep
gathering at its summit.

In the burning room
their breath hums to the heartbeat of the city.
The light grows dusk and
shadows jangle on the pavement below.
Their fingers and bodies entwine and
on the fogged-up windows their initials carved.

Then take the lift from fourth to street.
Joining the peak-time traffic
going north and south
and later text goodbye.

Dolores Duggan