This is no way to live: as though more light
were wanted here, a winded sun has come
through the east window like a stumblebum
to order things. This is no way to fight
disorder: sticks of furniture that seem
to have been broken up and brushpiled prior
to now; the ceiling falls upon the fire
with nothing, with its one obtruding beam.
No one has stayed to watch these things abet
their breaking down. The kindling doesn’t catch
its implication, that it is no match
for meditation. Only the sun has set
itself, and like bad faith it’s still about,
was not let in and will not be put out.
_Eric McHenry and painter Gary C. Logan were the winners of the _AGNI 1999 Philip Guston Award. This poem is featured in the print magazine alongside a painting by Gary G. Logan of the same name. The poem was inspired by the painting.
Eric McHenry’s most recent collection is Odd Evening, a finalist for the 2018 Poets’ Prize. His poems have appeared in Northwest Review, The New Republic, AGNI, Dogwood, LitRag, and elsewhere, and he has written about poetry for Slate, AGNI, The New York Times Book Review, and Parnassus. Poet laureate of Kansas from 2015 to 2017, he lives in Lawrence and teaches English at Washburn University. (updated 10/2018)