Poems & Photos by Julie E. Bloemeke
“I have always been fascinated by abandoned and neglected spaces, both in metaphor and in image. How do the places we initially create survive once we leave them? How do they slowly fold back into the surrounding world? Where are the marks of us underneath tangled vines, broken windows, empty doorframes? Do we dismiss these places, missing how much about them is evocative, compelling, rich with suggestion? I have been to a home where canned peaches were carefully labeled, still resting on the kitchen shelf. I have marveled over the house that had no roof but a bed, still made, sagging with rain and leaves. What compels us to walk away with photos still on the wall, tapes remaining in the cassette deck, a toothbrush balanced on the edge of a bathroom sink?
Just as we pass by derelict spaces daily, perhaps rarely noticing, so these poems needed not only words, but images, placed on the page, unmistakable. Photographing allows these spaces to emerge from hiding, uncamouflage their decay, forces us to see them in a perspective away from, and because of, their roots. It is my hope that text and image will play off of each other, resonating in a way that invites us to stop and realize our spaces, to ponder, to explore, to see past the overgrowth and into the story of them.”
– Julie E. Bloemeke
This trailer is not a trailer.
It is a bed without a roof
bleached by sun.
It is Cosmo 1982 still
on the kitchen counter.
It is the washer and dryer missing,
their empty holes
like eyes, mouths, watching, speaking.
This is not something to haul away,
this home leaning into wild
strawberries, pine needles.
This is us, tipped,
the uniform hanging
on the towel bar,
wrapped in plastic,
waiting to be worn.
It is the medicine bottle, open,
waiting to be taken.
It is the mirror, half unhinged,
and when you get close,
peer through leaves–
it is our reflection
staring back at us.
On the Corner of Hopewell
Asphalt meets gravel, right angle.
Down the road, signs of progress:
moving boxes, treated
lumber, loads of mulch, brick.
Across the way, a shining example:
dun grey of new, blinding
eggshell columns, copper caps,
white pansies smiling,
a driveway curved in welcome.
No trees to filter the light,
no patina, no dust, a real
estate ad, one woven with bits
of foil to lure the birds in.
Flip side. Some family’s abandoned
repair shop, shutters oddly in place,
cracked with weather, but still saying
Come on up.
The main door closed, other
doors propped, left, right, fallen,
which way does one go in?
See the light bulb, still hanging,
serpentine belts stacked on the bench,
glass fuses catching the sun.
Note the brake pedal, alone
in the corner. Here there are holes,
and termites, windshield wipers
tucked under chains, panes broken out,
weeds growing in. Squint for the bird’s nest
settled in a washer box marked 1964.
Know that light slivers in all ways:
the roof, the walls, the broken floor.
a swing set, warped, waiting,
a red seat lost in bands of vine
a deck, also red, barely standing,
houseless, tangled in upturned
trees, the very ones that kept it from sun
a mailbox, leaning, lonely, defunct,
reluctant sentinel to the shopping
center that heaves itself over
the once lolling cattle farm,
witness to the gravel path paved,
from one land to two to five,
burying the spot where someone’s
someone stood, coffee in hand,
to watch the sun rise each morning
know for now
there are weeds, heavy with tender, purple berries,
aching little hearts that stain passing hands, feet,
looking for all the world like blood
where the wound begins
and if it ends.
Give me news,
slide in your words,
Ignore the spiders
lock and key,
Come past rust
into one chamber
waiting for more.
and bright red flags
saying “Yes! Me! Here!”
Sometimes only numbers,
a name, catching
the sun, this place,
open for the waiting inside.
Julie E. Bloemeke lives in Alpharetta, Georgia, and is a graduate of the Bennington Writing Seminars. Her poems have recently appeared in A&U Magazine, Qarrtsiluniand and in the chapbook “Jasper Speaks: Download,” published by Muddy Ford Press and Jasper Magazine. Her poetry and nonfiction are forthcoming in a number of anthologies, including TheSouthern Poetry Anthology of Georgia Poets. She is currently working on her second poetry manuscript. This poetry essay was originally published in issue 4 of now-defunct Ouroboros Review.