Old Masters by Sean Kelbley
Judge's Choice, 2019 Poetry Contest
Icarus lies brightly shattered
in the ditch. The cows low
told ya so. Or in the silo,
Icarus is drowned beneath
a ton of unanticipated corn.
He could’ve starred in daytime
drama. He could’ve finished
culinary arts at the vo-tech,
but gravity’s a thing. So Icarus
is living with some woman
in the trailer, cooking meth.
Or Icarus is not allowed to sing
the bass line in the choir at Faith
Methodist, and everyone insists
his name is Meg. Or Icarus
is hiding in the hayloft from sex
traffickers, and his cell phone’s dead.
Or Icarus is crouching in the run-out
shed, and ICE dogs have his scent. Or
Icarus is in the house. First-floor only,
now—the missus’ emphysema. He dribbles
chicken broth into her mouth. Damn
illegals. Goddamn kids who try to fly
above their raising, from their bodies,
even. Goddamn farm: coyotes in the sheep,
always a tractor breaking down, etc.,
Etc. It’s after noon. Nothing has fixed
itself. In the sky, the jet from somewhere
else keeps flying somewhere else.