David C. Kopaska-Merkel
The wax held
Despite the heat
But his arms were so tired!
He dodged prominences bigger than his native land
(Many would have dwarfed Olympus
And the imperishable city
At its peak).
His goal looked so close
And yet he flew and flew,
Surely Apollo would come soon
To snatch the great disk from him
And take it beneath the Earth,
And he’d miss his chance,
Never grasp the prize,
Fail to prove to Daedalus
That he, Icarus, was just as worthy of attention
As any of Daedalus’ machines were
And as subtle as the Labyrinth,
But soon he was closer yet,
And the sun filled the entire sky.
He felt the wax loosen
And hair and feathers blaze,
And Daedalus was right, after all.
David C. Kopaska-Merkel edited Star*line in the late ‘90s, and later served as SFPA President. He won the Rhysling award (long poem) in 2006 for “The Tin Men,” a collaboration with Kendall Evans, and has edited two Rhysling anthologies. He twice took second place Elgin awards: for SETI Hits Paydirt, 2015, and The Edible Zoo, 2014. He was voted SFPA Grand Master in 2017. His poetry has been published in scores of venues, including Asimov’s, Strange Horizons, Polu Texni, Illumen, and Night Cry. He is the author of 31 books; several are available on Smashwords and Amazon. The newest is a poetry collection, The Ambassador Takes One for the Team, from Diminuendo Press. Kopaska-Merkel edits and publishes Dreams and Nightmares, a genre poetry zine in its 34th year of publication. Blog: http://dreamsandnightmaresmagazine.blogspot.com/ @DavidKM on Twitter. He and his wife live in a 120-year-old farmhouse. He shares a keyboard with two cats.
Backstory: This poem is a mash-up of the myth of Icarus with a little bit of science about the sun and a little bit about the relationships of fathers and sons. I used to think that there was no way Icarus would have flown too close to the sun, that he would have heeded his father’s advice. But maybe he wouldn’t have listened, especially if they didn’t have a good relationship. And that’s what this poem is about.
Image credit: Fall of Icarus (René Milot)