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.

Sean Kelbley lives with his husband on a 330-acre farm in southeastern Ohio, in a house they built themselves. He works as an elementary school counselor. Since first submitting poetry for publication in 2017, Sean has been recognized in contests at Still: The Journal, Midwest Review, Up North Lit, and the Yuki Teikei Haiku Society, and has been published at Crab Creek Review, One, New Verse News, Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, Poets Reading the News, Rattle, Rise Up Review (2017 Best of the Net nomination), Tipton Poetry Journal, and elsewhere. Born in Nelsonville, Ohio and brought up in southern Ohio and on the seacoast of Maine, he is a graduate of Ohio University-Athens.

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