Where No One Lives

I’ve posted this poem before, but I know some of you probably missed it. I wrote it after Sherry and I stopped to look at one of those old abandoned houses you see every now and then on the backroads, and even the highways, of Texas. Looking at the neglected, decaying house, I could see in the various fixtures the lives of those who had lived there. I am posting the poem on Jingle’s Poetry Potluck #44.The painting is “Forever Yesterday” by Evelyn Peters. The painting and the poem hang side by side on our living room wall, and it almost seems the poem was written about the painting.

Where No One Lives


Wind shrieks through broken window

A house where no one lives

Rusted wheel cries out an answer

From a well that no water gives

Leafless tree that once bore fruit

Alone in weed filled yard

Long since dead and barren

Lifeless limbs are grey and hard

Splintered door on rusted hinge

Sings a mournful song then closes

By the porch a broken trellis

Once filled with yellow roses

Porch swing sits against the wall

No chains to make it swing

No lovers or children to hold

When April brings the spring

Broken boards, once a home

Shelter no longer it gives

Tis but a pile of broken memories

This house where no one lives

Copyright © 1998 C. Mashburn


  1. Sherry Mashburn said

    This is such a sad poem, and very evocative. It could refer to a life, not just an empty shell of a house.

  2. ~L said

    WOW! this is great poetry! if this was my week to pick poem of the week this would be it!!!! this reminds me of a video I made about going back home to the house I grew up as a little girl… this really touched me!

    Thanks for you comment on my poem too! here is that link to that video… it’s a bit personal and you kinda have to understand the background… but a picture alone is worth a thousand words… can’t wait to read the rest of your work!


    • Awesome video! I need to get busy and figure out how to make one for my book.
      You are too kind with your comments about my poem. Although, it has always been one I consider among my best. So glad you enjooyed it. Lots of poems and stories on my blog that you will enjoy. Read on!

  3. Kim Nelson said

    I feel the melancholy in the poem’s references to once was, but is no more. Sadness in the now, but glory in the past. Lovely.

    • Thank you, Kim. Your comments are wonderful, and I appreciate your stopping by to read my poem.

  4. Abandoned structures are such a source of inspiration (on multiple levels, I think). This poem emits a sense of melancholy and loss for what once was. We have a lot of these old buildings, some never even finished, here in NV too.

    • Oh, yes. I have explored and/or viewed many old places all over Nevada.New Mexico and Arizona are full of such treasures as well.
      Thanks for the read and comment!

  5. Wonderful voice of a abandoned house with the many memories. Beautiful painting.

  6. And yes, if the walls could speak what stories they too, could tell.
    Very whistful, your prose was as lovely as the picture.
    Glad you have your computer up and running again!

    • Thanks forr the read and compliment!
      Thanks too for the well wishes on the computer situation. I’m struggling a bit trying to get the new one loaded with my old files, and trying to get used to some of the differences. I’m also having difficulty leaving comments for some of the poets who use Blogspot. Any helpful hints? (Anyone?)

  7. seabell said

    I like the description and the repetition is very effective… By the way, I have the same troubles with Blogspot. No hints, though.

    • Thanks for the read and comment. Thanks also for letting me know I’m not the only one having the difficulties with Blogspot.

  8. Wow…vivid words like paint on canvas!

  9. Andy said

    A sad poem of a previous life. Good impact with the ending.

    Beautiful painting.

    Thanks also for visiting me. I appreciate it.

    Don’t know what the problem is with Blogger. It constantly has issues of some sort or other.

  10. Lovely…I think we all feel like that old abandoned house from time to time.

    • Never thought of it from a persons viewpoint. Good thought. Thanks for the visit and comment.

  11. Jingle said

    after folks are gone, the house stands alone,
    haunting and beautiful..

    very poetic and enjoyable.
    Thanks for sharing.

  12. I do believe your house has a personality.

  13. Loved this, such a melancholic tone, one that speaks of many losses… souls lost in time as is the house that no one lives in. Fabulous piece.

  14. Ravenblack said

    This poem is very well written. Something about places that have been lived in and then left behind, they seem to echo a sort of sad story or longing, as if the place misses being lived in.

  15. Old timbers spoke and brown grasses whispered, within the words you wrote. You brought this home to life, if only for the length of your words. Wonderful!

    • Thank you, John. I appreciate the read, and those are some great comments/compliments. Very much appreciated!

  16. Old houses do stir the imagination. Poignant poem and quite lovely, as is the illustration.

    Thanks for a fine Potluck piece, Charles.

    Happy days …


    • Thank you, Jamie. I can still see the old house that inspired this poem. Somewhere south of Brownwood, Texas. Thirteen years ago. I wonder if it’s still standing. Thanks for the visit and wonderful comments.

  17. Where we live, in Indiana, so many old homes have been bulldozed to make room for more crops and fields run from ditch to ditch. But to one who knew them, they are still there in memory’s treasure box. The children still swing, the farmer still returns home sweaty and hungry. And good poets find them at the end.

    • I’ve seen those massive fields in Indiana. I watched the corn grow one summer. Beautiful place, but came back to the south at first frost. I don’t do cold weather too well.
      Thanks for the insightful and wonderful comments.

  18. Katherine said

    Beautiful imagery. I loved how you describe the now uninhabited home. You painted a really sad picture. Good job

  19. Aleza said

    “No lovers or children to hold
    When April brings the spring”

    That is so sad. It brings to mind not only an uninhabited home, but the uninhabited womb of a woman who cannot conceive.

    • I never thought of it that way–the empty womb.
      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  20. Very well done, Charles – I too am impresssed by your work! Thanks so much for visiting my site! Please come back, as I most certainly will to yours!

    It’s interesting to me that we essentially wrote about the same things, but in reverse!

    • I hadn’t noticed the same only reversed aspect, but you are correct.
      And, thank you for the visit and comments. I hope to see more of your work and hear from you again!

  21. dc said

    Nice stuff! Made me think of some kind of Muddy Waters song

    • You might be onto something there. The last stanza–revised slightly–could be the chorus:

      Broken boards, once a home

      Shelter no longer gives

      Just a pile of broken memories

      A house where no one lives

      I like it! Thanks for the greaat comment! Stop by again.

  22. leah said

    What,a lovely and sad poem at the same time.

    • Thank you, Leah! I appreciate the visit and comments. I see houses like this every time I travel the roads of Texas. It is sad to look at them and imagine the families who once lived there, and wonder what caused the house to be abandoned.

  23. Such a vivid poem and I love the last line. I wrote a poem sometime ago about a Derelict House personified. Awesomely done!

  24. tekia said

    The painting and poem complement one another very well. Interesting story of how the house is dead and lifeless during Spring- a season when things are coming back to life. Wonderful imagery here as well. Great piece!

  25. rekha said

    This is a wonderful piece….tells an entire story on its own….if houses could speak , wonder what kind of tales and pieces of history they would reveal?

    • A thought I have often as I drive the higways and back roads of Texas. I see so many old houses falling and rotting away. I can’t help but wonder about the families who once lived in them.
      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I appreciate you!

  26. lolamouse said

    You’re right. The photo and poem do seem as if they belong together. Such a poignantly sad poem. Memories that cannot be rekindled.

  27. Kalahari blues said

    I here the influence of Robert Frost here…what a reflection !

    • That’s good, I suspect! I haven’t read anything by Frost since high school. I’ll have to take a look and see if I see the connection.
      Thanks for the visit and comments!

    • You are correct! This poem certainly cannot compare to his, but his poem, Ghost House, is about the same subject. There is a connection overall, I think. You must be an astute student of poetry!

  28. David King said

    I’ve read this a few times now, and find it full of yearning and wistfulness. Wonderfully visioned and and put down.

    • Thanks, David. I appreciate the visit, comments and compliments. Stop by and read some of my other poems and stories when you have time.

  29. it feels lonely but its very good

    • Yes, it is a lonely place this house where no one lives.
      Thank you for the visit and comment!

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