Abandoned Farmhouse

Abandoned Farmhouse
by Ted Kooser
He was a big man, says the size of his shoes
on a pile of broken dishes by the house;
a tall man too, says the length of the bed
in an upstairs room; and a good, God-fearing man,
says the Bible with a broken back
on the floor below the window, dusty with sun;
but not a man for farming, say the fields
cluttered with boulders and the leaky barn.

(click on the title to read the remainder of the poem)

house3.jpgI read the above poem recently and thought immediately of the abandoned houses that haunt the back country roads in Maine. Their stories are palpable. Ted Kooser imagines one story, with an ominous tone, in a setting spiked with broken dishes and spines, boulders and leaky barns. His poem inspired me to revisit an old post and some pictures I’d taken long ago, and to write the following:


Once upon a time…

The house had good bones
its story still stirs the air
like a haunting whisper
Once upon a time…

Big house
little house
back house
like vertebrae on a spine
skinned with a coat of cheerful yellow
crowned with a jaunty red roof
waving a welcome
with blue and white curtains
at its windows

Now, open windows are blank eyes
Dulled yellow paint
peels from bone-dry clapboards
the red roof bucks and heaves
a fractured spine

No bark echoes in this yard
No drying clothes dance in a soft spring breeze
No child’s laughter trills
Even the birds seem silent here


In a gaping window
the dusty curtains flutter
like a broken sigh

There is no graveyard
for houses that die

Molly Hogan (c) 2017

If you’re interested in learning about the “big house, little house, back house, barn” architecture so evident in Maine, click  here. If you’d like to read some more poetry at this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup, head over to A Year of Reading.