Where No One Lives

Last Thursday, on dVerse Poets Pubs, “Meeting The Bar” , Victoria asked us to write something about “where” we are. I saw a poem someone else submitted, that made me think of this one, and I wished I’d used it. I think a lot of folks like the one I wrote Thursday, What Was I Thinking, however, so I made plans to use this one today, on dVerse Poet Pub’s Open Link Night #50. I hope you enjoy it!

Where No One Lives


Wind shrieks through broken windows

           A house where no one lives

               Rusted wheel cries out an answer

                           From a well that no water gives

The painting is “Forever Yesterday” by Evelyn Peters, and the painting and poem hang side by side on our living room wall. It almost seems the poem was written about the painting, but it wasn’t.


Leafless tree that once bore fruit

Alone in a 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, it no longer gives

                                                                Tis but a pile of broken memories

                                                             This house where no one lives

Copyright © 1998 C. Mashburn


  1. abandoned houses used to be my playground in my teen and tween years…now they are a stark reminder of those that used to live there….nice use of the senses too…the squeaking wheel….the sway of the porch swing…a chilling picture…

    • I’ve always been fascinated with them, too. A person can’t explore them like we used to be able to.
      Thanks, Brian!

  2. aprille said

    Hiya Charles,
    you were indeed quick on the draw 🙂
    Takes some doing to get into that first row.

    Looks like a desirable residence to me and a weedfree garden is no fun . Nice combination.

  3. Sad to come across these old houses. I often think, if walls could talk what stories they would tell.
    Lovely, atmospheric and maybe, a little sad too.

    • I know what you mean. They would have some stories to tell!
      Thanks, Daydreamertoo!

  4. Sherry Mashburn said

    I’ve always loved this poem . . . I bought the painting because it reminded me of my aunt’s place in the east Texas countryside outside of Lufkin.

    • I can still see the house we saw that inspired the poem. We were doing a driving research trip for the first novel, “Roadkill”. I even used it in the novel.

  5. Claudia said

    heck…made me think of a film scene but then goes so much deeper than that image of a real house

    • We saw the house while doing research for a novel, and I used it for one of the scenes. I always thought that novel would’ve made a great movie, but never even got it published.
      Thanks, Claudia!

  6. kelly said

    such a sad poignant tale… loved these lines:

    Splintered door on rusted hinge

    Sings a mournful song then closes

    By the porch a broken trellis

    Once filled with yellow roses

    • Yes! Those are some of my favorite lines, too. I can still hear that old door groaning as the wind blew it shut.
      Thanks, Kelly!

  7. Outstanding poem. A wonderful construction of verse. I like the form too. Bravo!

  8. I love your rhyme scheme. It does seem the poem was written for the painting, or perhaps the painting was inspired by the poem. At any rate, they go well together even if you didn’t plan it that way. Peace, Linda

    • I did a lot of rhyming poems when I first started writing poetry. Some–like this one–came out pretty good; others were more in the oh-good-gawd-y’all category (not in a good way).
      Thanks, Linda!

      • I’m sure none of your rhyming poems could rival my early poem about my roses in the “oh-good-gawd-y’all” category. It included the words “humungous” and “fungus.” I refuse to repeat any more of it, and it will never see the light of day. 😉 Peace, Linda

      • hahaha! Oh, I bet we could have fun comparing our “good” ones, Linda.

  9. ayala said

    Nice capture of abandoned houses..I always wondered who lived there and what was their life like… 🙂

    • Me too. Old houses are a fascinating subject. I explored a lot of ruins when I lived in New Mexico, and that, too, is thought-provoking.
      Thanks, Ayala!

  10. Susan said

    Very nice! Except for the shrieking wind, the steady rhythm and rhyme of this poem makes the house its own dirge–a steady march into decay, not broken up by any lie. Perhaps the wind is the mourner.

    • Susan said

      O!! ryme = rhyme lie = life (red faced, I back out the door once more)

      • Haha! I wouldn’t have noticed, if you hadn’t pointed it out! (I fixed it.)

    • A good point; I might have used howl or maon to fit the mood of the rest of the poem. You have a good ear for the details, Susan.
      Thanks for the great comment!

  11. Old and abandoned houses make me sad ~ Nice painting of the broken memories ~


    • Me too! I see lots of them as we travel around Texas. Farmers and ranchers build a new home–usually further from the road–and just leave the old one–usually close to the road–to crumble.
      Thank you!

  12. Ken Mashburn said

    Wow ! You’re pretty good at this Bro! Just think if you had not wasted all that youth harrassing your little brother you would have had time to publish a whole pook of this stuff! Cheers Ken

    • Pretty good. I’m confused… I thought you were the pretty one. Things change, I reckon.
      As for the harrassment, I was only trying to build your character. I failed miserably, it seems, but hey you’re stronger for it. I tell people you’re one tough nut.
      Thanks, bro!

  13. A little Texana here. I have a lifetime fascination with aging houses. I mark them as I course my ways (constant and forever it seems) across the state. Of late I’ve fallen in love with some in La Grange and two or three Victorians (fallen nearly to dust) in Refugio. You captured it so well here. The poem felt like lyrics. Maybe you should shop them around Nashville or Austin?

    • I love old houses and architecture of all kinds. I always wanted to buy an old one and restore it, but ran out of time and got into this writin bidness.
      As for the lyrics aspect, I beat my head against the wall for several years trying to get lyrics into the hands of singers, producers, etc. Even did some demos with a friend of mine. Never even got a nibble.
      Thanks, Gay!

  14. Truedessa said

    Charles – If only those houses could talk one can only imagine the tales they would tell. You imagery really brings the piece together.

    • Myimagination runs wild when I see them. I wish there were more opportunities to explore them.
      Thank you!

  15. I love what the Lord is doing through your writing. I have added you to my blogroll, blessings Darrell

    • Thank you for the encouraging words, Darrell. I appreciate them very much, and I’m honored that you’ve included my blog on your blogroll.

  16. Becky said

    I LOVE visiting you Charles. You always make me stop and think.
    I love this. It reminded me of visiting my grandparents home long after they had passed, and now my own childhood home now that my parents have passed.

    • You get the “Made-My-Day” award for this fine Thursday, Becky!
      Thanks for the wonderful comment!

  17. zongrik said

    but do the ghost lives there?

    done for

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