The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


K. M. Droney

Fierce Madonna


Fierce Madonna stares into the lens,
Eyes still wild from the fight.
Clutches more than cradles the infant child,
Snatched from death,
Swaddled and restored to her
At the last.
Herod’s order averted.

The ghost of a grandmother,
Transfigured and young,
Sat by her bed.
Spoke soothingly.
Coaxed her back,
While the child
In another room
Battled, one breath at a time.

For three days
Plasticine spiders wove their webs,
Bound the infant to her strange berceau.
Obstinate child,
Willing her chest to expand.
Prying open ribs
Closed tight like a trap.
Again. Again. Again.

Under the hissing mask
Tiny features smoothed only by fitful sleep
Into an ivory cameo of the mother.

Now the Madonna’s high cheekbones,
Ramparts against the fear
Felt during the flight
From the lethal unpronounceable,
Press against the soft, pulsing crown.

Babies don’t remember,
Kindly nurses told her.
But mothers do.
Staring. Clinging.
Irises still startled open
By that first onrush of angels.



K. M. Droney



The swallows, which minutes before had swooped past us in search of invisible prey, settled

and perched on the telephone wires.

Color drained from the climbing roses on the stable wall, and automatic sensors switched on

every street lamp in the village.

As we stood on the balcony the air grew chill. We put down the specially bought rectangles of

welder’s glass and shrugged into sweaters. Remember?

In the towns—or so we were told when we turned to peer at the television in the family room--

they switched on the lights in the cafés and sang wassail.

Seeing it on TV made it real, not just some mad dream: an event predicted centuries ago by the

Egyptians, the Greeks and even the Aztecs.

Did we huddle together in the false dusk, my arm around your shoulders? When the second

phosphor parenthesis finally appeared on the far side of that black disk, what did we say? Et


We smiled…I’m sure we smiled, maybe even laughed…but some ancient part of us was as

startled as the swifts in the strange half-light of that seemingly impromptu equinox.

But this…! This new dark star overhead--this unforetold dimming--is different. This time there

will be no blazing scimitar: no resurrection.

The birds freeze and singly fall from the wires like balled socks. Until I can no longer see

them…or you…in the deepening darkness.




K. M. DRONEY was born in Ohio, and lived in Africa and Europe before making his home in California.  A longtime professional writer with a B.A. in English from Santa Clara University and an M.F.A from UCLA, his work has received critical acclaim including an award nomination from PEN America.  His novel Le Missionnaire was published by Olivier Orban in Paris, and his first published poem was featured in the PEN literary journal The Rattling Wall.



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