Poetry Sunday: Abandoned Farmhouse

An old abandoned farmhouse reveals the lives of the people who once lived there. The story is there for the poet to interpret and relay to us. A sad story of lives interrupted.

Abandoned Farmhouse

by Ted Kooser

Related Poem Content Details

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.

A woman lived with him, says the bedroom wall
papered with lilacs and the kitchen shelves
covered with oilcloth, and they had a child,
says the sandbox made from a tractor tire.
Money was scarce, say the jars of plum preserves
and canned tomatoes sealed in the cellar hole.
And the winters cold, say the rags in the window frames.
It was lonely here, says the narrow country road.

Something went wrong, says the empty house
in the weed-choked yard. Stones in the fields
say he was not a farmer; the still-sealed jars
in the cellar say she left in a nervous haste.
And the child? Its toys are strewn in the yard
like branches after a storm—a rubber cow,
a rusty tractor with a broken plow,
a doll in overalls. Something went wrong, they say.


  1. Wow! That's powerful imagery right there.

    1. The reader can really visualize the scene he is describing.

  2. A story is told with some mystery remaining.

    1. Yes. We don't know what happened; just that "Something went wrong."

  3. I love the imagery, Dorothy, but hate not knowing what happened. Kooser is so brilliant -- he was poet laureate for a while I think. P.x

    1. It's all left to our imagination and although the imagery suggests something tragic, we could just as easily choose to believe it was good luck that took the family away. Maybe they won the lottery and moved to Aruba!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Poetry Sunday: Don't Hesitate by Mary Oliver

Overboard by Sara Paretsky: A review

The Investigator by John Sandford: A review