Tag Archives: farmhouse

The House With Nobody In It

by the poet : Joyce Kilmer

Whenever I walk to Suffern along the Erie track
I go by a poor old farmhouse with its shingles broken and black.
I suppose I’ve passed it a hundred times, but I always stop for
a minute
And look at the house, the tragic house, the house with nobody in
it.
I never have seen a haunted house, but I hear there
are such things;
That they hold the talk of spirits, their mirth and sorrowings.
I know this house isn’t haunted, and I wish it were, I do;
For it wouldn’t be so lonely if it had a ghost or two.
This house on the road to Suffern needs a dozen
panes of glass,
And somebody ought to weed the walk and take a scythe to the grass.
It needs new paint and shingles, and the vines should be trimmed
and tied;
But what it needs the most of all is some people living inside.
If I had a lot of money and all my debts were paid
I’d put a gang of men to work with brush and saw and spade.
I’d buy that place and fix it up the way it used to be
And I’d find some people who wanted a home and give it to them free.
Now, a new house standing empty, with staring window
and door,
Looks idle, perhaps, and foolish, like a hat on its block in the
store.
But there’s nothing mournful about it; it cannot be sad and lone
For the lack of something within it that it has never known.
But a house that has done what a house should do,
a house that has sheltered life,
That has put its loving wooden arms around a man and his wife,
A house that has echoed a baby’s laugh and held up his stumbling
feet,
Is the saddest sight, when it’s left alone, that ever your eyes
could meet.
So whenever I go to Suffern along the Erie track
I never go by the empty house without stopping and looking back,
Yet it hurts me to look at the crumbling roof and the shutters fallen
apart,
For I can’t help thinking the poor old house is a house with a broken
heart.

Alfred Joyce Kilmer (December 6, 1886 – July 30, 1918) was an American journalist, poet, literary critic, lecturer, and editor. Though a prolific poet whose works celebrated the common beauty of the natural world as well as his religious faith, Kilmer is remembered most for a short poem entitled “Trees” (1913), which was published in the collection Trees and Other Poems in 1914.

 

 

 

 

Trees by Joyce Kilmer

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

While most of his works are unknown, a select few of his poems remain popular and are published frequently in anthologies. Several critics, both Kilmer’s contemporaries and modern scholars, disparaged Kilmer’s work as being too simple, overly sentimental, and suggested that his style was far too traditional, even archaic. While Kilmer is not known as being a dark poet, I found his poem The House With Nobody In It  to be quite moving and sad and I wanted to include this little known poem on our darkpens blog, because it gave me a chill.

At the time of his deployment to Europe during the first World War (1914–1918), Kilmer was considered the leading American Catholic poet and lecturer of his generation, whom critics often compared to British contemporaries G. K. Chesterton (1874–1936) and Hilaire Belloc (1870–1953). Kilmer was a sergeant in the 165th U.S. Infantry Regiment (better known as ‘The Fighting 69th). During the Second Battle of Marne, there was heavy fighting throughout the last days of July 1918, and on July 30, 1918, Kilmer volunteered to accompany Major William “Wild Bill” Donovan when Donovan’s Battalion (1-165th Infantry) was sent to lead the day’s attack.

During the course of the day, Kilmer led a scouting party to find the position of a German machine gun. When his comrades found him, some time later, they thought at first that he was peering over the edge of a little hill, where he had crawled for a better view. When he did not answer their call, they ran to him and found him dead. According to Father Duffy: “A bullet had pierced his brain. His body was carried in and buried by the side of Ames. God rest his dear and gallant soul.”

Kilmer died, likely immediately, from a sniper’s bullet to the head near Muercy Farm, beside the Ourcq River near the village of Seringes-et-Nesles, in France, on July 30, 1918 at the age of 31. For his valor, Kilmer was posthumously awarded the Croix de Guerre (War Cross) by the French Republic.

Kilmer was buried in the Oise-Aisne American Cemetery and Memorial, near Fere-en-Tardenois, Aisne, Picardy, France. Although Kilmer is buried in France in an American military cemetery, a cenotaph is located on the Kilmer family plot in Elmwood Cemetery, in New Brunswick, New Jersey. A memorial service was held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan. To view his Find A Grave Memorial click here  

Photo by Brian Pohanka- FindAGrave Contributor
Article submitted by Angela L Burke- MSSPI

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Filed under Dark Poetry, ghosts

The Haunting of Davidson Farm

The Haunting of Davidson Farm

by Angela L Burke

I fell in love the moment I saw it. The old Davidson farmhouse was a dream that I had always wished for. It was a two-story white framed house with black shutters and a large country porch that ran the entire length of the house. I had always wanted a porch like that, so that I could have a porch swing and maybe even a few rocking chairs for sipping lemonade on hot summer days. It was October of 1990 when we moved into the house. I was 8 1/2 months pregnant with my oldest son and was excited to get the nursery set up before his arrival. My daughter Becka was a little over 2 yrs old and my husband and I were excited to have purchased our first home. The house was in the country down a long dirt road. There were neighbors in sight but not so close as to be able to hear their conversations over supper, unlike the crowded apartments, we had moved from in the city.

The house sat on a five acre plot and the land backed up to the State’s National Forest Land. On the left side of the property there was an open field that was overgrown with blackberry vines and weeds. The house had 3 bedrooms and a full bath upstairs and downstairs was a full bath, living room, kitchen and dining area and an extra bedroom which we turned into a small playroom and den for my daughter, so that she could watch her cartoons and not be running up and down the stairs for toys. There was also a large basement and a garage.

My first impressions of the house was that it was lonely and in need of a womans touch. I was excited and spent the day unpacking the kitchen. The first day was uneventful, all I can really say about it is that I didn’t like the basement. It was very cold and creepy down there, even though half of it was finished and had a nice laundry area with plenty of room for a folding table and storage. There was also a work bench on the opposite side where my husband could keep his tools and have room for his deer hunting gear. It was also large enough for a weight bench. This in itself was a blessing to me just to get the barbells out from under the bed.

But I had the feeling right from the start that I was being watched everytime I went down to the basement. There was a window near the staircase that did not open. When you looked out this window you were at dirt level and there had been an extention added to the house, were an addition had been added to increase the size of the kitchen. It looked like an enclosed tomb when you looked inside it. I remember thinking, that would be a good place to put a body. I got the chills when the thought entered my mind and I shook it off and got out of the basement as soon as I could. The first curtains that I hung were to cover this window. I did not like the feeling I got when I would have to walk past it.

My son was born early, 3 days in fact, after we moved into the house. It was something I somewhat expected to happen. He was a big baby and I knew we would not make it the full 9 months. I really don’t remember much activity the first few months we lived there, other than the heavy uncomfortable feelings I had in the basement. Like someone was always standing right behind me breathing on my neck and when I would turn around no one would be there. And the well and sump pump and the furnace in the far corner of the basement made so much noise that winter, that I attributed most of the noises I heard to that. But when spring came, everything changed.

When the weather had warmed we started to do odd jobs around the house. The first thing I wanted to do was paint the shutters. They were faded and chipped and the black paint looked more like charcoal grey, so I painted them a nice shade of burgundy red. The house came alive almost instantly, just from painting the shutters. We painted the inside rooms and put some new carpet down. I also love flowers and as there was very little landscaping, I decided I would put in some flower beds around the house to cheer things up a bit. I had taken a walk one day thru the field next door and I noticed that there was a large field stone foundation that was barely visible thru the weeds and brush. It was crumbling in places so I decided that the field stones would be perfect for a border around my flower beds. I carted several wheelbarrow loads of field stone from the foundation over to the yard. I had enough to put flowerbeds all the way around the house. I was delighted at how it looked. I planted all sorts of different flowers and plants and the house was looking very sharp when I finally finished.

It was at this time that I began to notice a change in events happening around me. It started with the footsteps. It sounded like little children running down the hall of the upstairs. Then I would hear giggling and children’s voices whispering. Sometimes I would hear a child say ” Mama” and turn around and no one would be there. I would hear voices on the baby monitor upstairs when the children were with me and I’d go up to the room to see, but no one would be up there.

A week or so went by and then I noticed that things were being moved. One day I had been doing some baking in the kitchen, I had placed a large bread carving knife on the kitchen counter, I turned my back to stir something on the stove and when I turned back around the knife was not there. I looked around and saw that it had been moved into the sink. My children were very little and were not able to even reach the counter top. They had been down for a nap at the time, and I was the only other person there. Sometimes the rocking chair in the living room would be moving by itself. I always found some kind of excuse for what was happening. I also noticed that things were being moved around in my daughters bedroom.

She rarely played in her bedroom upstairs, most of her toys and her tv and cartoon movies were kept in the playroom downstairs. I would clean her room every morning and make her bed and then I would close the door to her room and we would all go downstairs to play. The staircase was gated so that she could not climb the stairs alone. But on numerous occasions, I would go up to her room to put away her laundry or get diapers from the nursery and her door would be open, when I would enter the room , everything would be pulled out of her dresser drawers, her toy box would be turned over and emptied and all the clothes would be pulled off the hangers in her closet. Her bed covers would be pulled off the bed. I knew that my daughter was not the one who had done it. She had been downstairs with me the entire time. I think I really didn’t know what to do or think, so I did nothing.

On one occasion I had brought the children upstairs for a nap and Becka’s room was tidy and everything in its place. I put her into her bed and she layed down with very sleepy eyes and I knew it wouldn’t take long for her to fall asleep, I walked out her door and pulled it to and entered the nursery to put my son down in the crib. I heard giggling and rustling noises coming from my daughter’s room. So I went back to the door to make sure she was still in her bed. When I opened up the door, she was sitting up in her bed with one hand covering her mouth and her other hand pointing towards the closet. The dresser drawers were pulled out and all the clothes had been flung into the floor, the toy box had been emptied and the clothes from the closet had been pulled off the hangers and a few of them were still swinging empty on the bar rack.

I said “Becka, what happened, why did you make this mess?”, She said “it wasn’t me mama, they did it”, I said ” who is they?”. She said, “those little girls made a mess”. I said “what little girls?”, She said “those little girls in my closet”. She did not understand why I couldn’t see them and I was trying hard not to let her see how much it had shaken me up. I knew that there was no way that Becka had the time to empty the toy box or the dresser drawers and that she wasnt even tall enough to reach the clothes on the hangers in the closet. I picked everything up and put all the clothes back on their hangers and trying to keep my cool, I said, ” Becka, tell those little girls that it isn’t nice to mess up your room like that” She smiled and she said ” they said sorry mama ” Then she laid her head down and fell asleep.

A week or so later on one particular day I had decided that the kids would nap down stairs, my daughter was sleeping on the couch in the living room and I was rocking my son in the rocking chair next to her and suddenly the TV came on by itself. I thought it was strange considering that there was no remote and not really sure how it could have happened. It was an older model tv and you had to get up to change the channels. I got up and switched off the TV and sat back down in the rocker. A few moments later the TV came on again, only this time to a static station and the volume had been turn up to the highest it would go. I got up again and this time I unplugged the tv, as I thought maybe there might be a short in it or something. I sat back down in the rocker and no sooner had I sat back in the chair, the TV came on again to a static station. I was really getting freaked out now. I put the baby in the playpen and walked over to the TV, half expecting some sort of skeleton face to appear on the screen. I looked behind the TV and the plug was laying on the floor. I reached over to hit the off button and as I did, a blue electric charge shot out of the button and shocked my hand. I quickly hit the switch with my fist and turned off the tv. Then out loud I said ” knock it off ok, the babies are trying to take a nap” It never happen again.

I’m not sure why I didn’t panic, I felt like there was something there that was just being mischievous, but I didn’t feel threatened by it , only confused and a little bit irritated. I tried to tell my husband when he came home from work, but he just looked at me and jokingly said ” what have you been smoking?” I don’t think he ever really took me seriously.

A few days later I was outside working in the flower bed, which had begun to bloom nicely, in fact it was one of the prettiest flower beds I had ever planted and I was surprised at how fast the plants had sprouted and grown. Anyway, The elderly couple from across the road, were out walking their dog. They stopped at the edge of the driveway and said ” hello and how nice the yard was looking” I walked down to the end of the drive and introduced myself. The couple told me that they had lived in the house across the road for over fifty years. I said ” well then maybe you can tell me what use to be in the field next door where the old foundation is?”

They looked at each other like they weren’t sure if they wanted to say, But then the wife said, “well back in the late 1930’s early 40’s, I ‘m not exactly sure what year it was, the farmhouse that you live in, was occupied by a couple and their 3 little girls. The father had made them a rope swing out in the barn , which is what use to sit on that foundation.” She said ,” an unexpected tornado came thru this area and hit the barn while the 3 girls were out there playing on the rope swing. All three of them were killed”. She went on to say that “after their death, their mother became severely depressed and she overdosed on sleeping pills. It was very tragic and sad.”

I said “what happened to the father?” She said , “after his wife died, he left and no one really knows where he went. The house sat empty for a long time. Then in the 1960’s another couple moved in” . She said “the father was an alcoholic and it was rumored that he would get drunk and beat up on his wife all the time. One day, I guess she got sick of it and she just disappeared, some say she ran off with another man and some say that he killed her and buried her somewhere on the property, but no one really knows for sure what happened to her. They had a 16 yr old son, and after the wife disappeared, the father would take out his drunken rages on his son. One night, the father had come home drunk and had knocked the poor boy around a bit, the son had enough of it and he shot his father in the back of the head while he was sitting at his workbench down in the basement, then the boy shot himself in the upstairs bedroom.”

Needless to say, I was not prepared for all of that information, but I said, “has anyone ever mentioned anything strange going on in the house since all of this happened?” They looked at each other and the man said , “You might as well tell her”

The wife said, “well, after that the house sat empty again until the last young couple bought it a few years ago. It had been in terrible condition and they did a lot of work to fix it up. But they only stayed 2 years and then they just up and moved. That’s when you came. You might hear some rumors about the house that it’s haunted, but I wouldn’t worry too much about it dear, it’s an old house and old houses make lots of noise, it’s probably just the floorboards settling” . I thanked them for telling me the story , I didn’t let on to them any of the activity that had been occurring, which I knew was more than just the floor boards creaking. I was also worried that they might think I was a nut if I told them all the things I had seen and heard. I certainly didn’t want to be the subject of town gossip. So I kept it to myself.

My younger sister age 15 and one of my younger brothers age 13 had come to spend their summer break with me that year. My sister told me that she never believed in ghosts until she spent that summer in my house. One day she and I had been sitting at the kitchen table, just talking and we had the kitchen windows open. It was a beautiful day and pleasant temperatures, so we were enjoying the fresh air. All of a sudden, we heard a clicking noise. We could not figure out where it was coming from. The kids were in the playroom curled up on the couch with my brother watching tv and you could not hear the clicking noise when you entered the room. We went back into the kitchen after looking all around the house to try to locate the source. When we sat back down at the table we heard it again. I looked out the window to see if it might be coming from outside. My car was parked in the driveway, just a few feet from the window. The manual locks on the doors of the car were going up and down by themselves. I said, No Way! and I jumped up and ran out into the driveway to be sure no one was in the car. The locks were still clicking as my sister and I stood there. Then they suddenly stopped. My sister of course was completely freaked out and I was pretty much trying to stay calm for her sake. But I have to say that it was very unnerving.

Later that year after they had returned back home for school, the activity continued. Mostly footsteps, giggles, laughing, voices whispering and things being moved around. One night, I had finished cleaning up the supper dishes and my husband and kids had been in bed for some time. I was getting ready to go upstairs to bed. The staircase to the upstairs was in the kitchen as was the doorway to the basement. As I began to climb the staircase , the basement door slowly opened and made a creepy creaking noise as it came ajar. I stopped and went back down and shut the door. I thought maybe it hadn’t been closed all the way. As I started back up the stairs, it opened again. I went back down, I checked the basement, and the outside doors to make sure they were closed and that no drafts were coming in, I shut the basement door and as I started up the steps it came open again only this time with more force. I stood there for a moment and then I went down and I said “ok, if you want it open we will leave it open”, I opened it all the way and started back up, as I hit the first step the door slammed shut and scared the hell out of me. I picked up a flip-flop shoe that was sitting near the step and I shoved it under the door to keep it closed. As I took a step back the flip-flop flew out from under the door and slid clear across the kitchen hitting the opposite wall and the door flew open, a gust of wind blew past me with so much force that it moved my hair and I heard laughing that sounded like a child. I ran up the stairs and jumped into bed. I shook my husband trying to wake him up to tell him , but he wouldn’t wake up. Needless to say, I did not sleep at all that night.

The next few months became harder to deal with. My husband had become distant and seemed to anger easily. We began to argue a lot over petty things and we grew further and further apart. He didn’t spend much time at home anymore and when he did, he always seemed to be in a bad mood. He spent most of his waking hours at home at the work bench or lifting weights in the basement.He began to drink heavily and our relationship became strained, to the point that he began to have violent outbursts. He became controlling and paranoid and I did not understand this change in his behavior. He began to go his way and I began to go mine. Eventually we both had short affairs out of anger and misunderstandings, which was a devastating blow to us both.

The emotional tension between us had reached a peak and at times was violent and I was seeing more and more activity in the house. On two occasions I saw a woman in a black dress standing behind me in the bathroom mirror. Her eyes were blackened as if she had been beaten and she had blood on her mouth. This scared me the most and was the only time I felt like I really was crazy, Then not long after this, my husband and I had argued and he had left very angry at me, and I was sitting on the couch crying. I was feeling very unhappy and that things were falling apart all around me, I had many regrets and guilty feelings, as well as hurt and anger for the violent arguments that were becoming more and more frequent. I had become depressed and anxious all the time, I was very tired and just felt like giving up on everything. I had my eyes closed and when I opened them, the same woman who I had seen in the mirror was standing over me, only this time she looked like she was made of fine smoke, and her face was soft and glowing and there was no blood, she touched my face with her hand and it felt like static from a warm sweater fresh from the dryer, She said, “everything will be ok, don’t cry, you have the children to think of”, she smiled and then she was gone.

I decided the next day to pack up the kids and take them home to my family in Tennessee for a while. I thought that maybe some time apart would help, that I needed to get out of the house and take a break from the crazy things happening all around me. I was beginning to feel like I was loosing my mind or having a nervous breakdown and I didn’t like it.. It didn’t change anything though, moving only made them worse and 18 months later after a long and bitter court fight, we divorced. I was broken-hearted to give up my house. When I moved there, I was happy and I thought it would be the perfect place to raise my children and grow old with my husband. But it didn’t turn out that way.

At the time I lived there I was young, in my early twenties. I was not involved in paranormal research at the time. I believed that ghosts where possible , because of the many experiences I’d had as a child and also unexplained things I had seen in my profession as a nurse. But, I knew nothing about ghosts, had no idea there was such a thing as paranormal investigators and had given little thought to the subject. I never expected them to be in my home or affecting me in such a way. I wish that I had known then, what I know now. Maybe I would have been able to prove these occurrences somehow or to help them in some way to move on. I think it is just one of the experiences I ‘ve had, that has led me to be involved in the study of the unexplained. I am grateful that I was not the only one to experience something in the house. My sister to this day will back me up on the claims we experienced. But I will always wonder if placing the field stones around the house had really been such a good idea. I think it may have awakened the spirits. Or maybe, bringing life into an old home, energizes the spirits that linger and they draw from us the emotions they felt when they were alive. The emotional part of this house was a mixture of happiness, laughter, innocence, loneliness, anger, paranoia, betrayal, guilt and pain all rolled into one house. I honestly wonder sometimes , if I allowed them to much freedom to stay in my home. I really wasn’t concerned about getting rid of them, I didn’t feel like they were a threat, I was more fascinated by the idea that they were there to begin with. I guess I felt like, they were there before me and so they had a right to be there. I’ve also thought that there were more than one spirit and that each affected us differently, my husband being the target of the negative energy in the home without even knowing it. Maybe the spirits played on his moods and his temper causing him to lose control. Maybe the children and the mother were drawn to me because I was a mother too. If my ex-husband did have an experience there, he never spoke of it or admitted it to me. In fact , he probably still thinks I’m crazy. But, I know what I experienced and the things that I felt in that house. Even if, I still to this day, cannot explain them.

 After I had moved away from the house, the activity did not stop. I believe that something followed me, but I will save that story for another post.

 

 

 

 

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