Angela Alaimo O'Donnell

Flannery in Love

"As our lips touched I had a feeling that her mouth lacked resilience…
so I had a feeling of kissing a skeleton."—Erik Langkjaer

For Erik, who has wise blood, too, I wrote,
fool girl that I was, head over arse
in lust with a stranger and his car,
a big Customline Ford with an arrow—
straight hood ornament promising flight.
I should've known he'd take that flight alone.
We kissed only once. Never got to bed.
His front seat the site of all the love
I'd known, marooned as I was and holy.
After that kiss, I felt more lonely
than I did before, knew I had missed
my last true chance of being wife and wed.
As my lips and tongue thirsted for more,
he switched on the engine and locked the door.

Flannery at Andalusia

Waking early I took the Georgia light
as a sign from God of the wrecked world's end.
The nimbus of sun bleached the barn white,
hailed from the east like a wandering saint,
the bright one the abbot would most likely send
out on a mission. That barn needed paint.
The boards were rotting, the roof like to cave.
It somehow escaped Regina's keen eye
for spoil and squalor, all kinds of decay.
Mine, too. These soft bones dissolving inside
my skin in a gunnysack race to be dust.
The Red Wolf might lame me, but not my lust
for this life, this world, about to expire.
I stand in the light. I welcome the fire.

The Pathé News Man Meets the Queen of the Birds

"When I was five, I had an experience that marked me
for life. Pathé News sent a photographer from New York
to Savannah to take a picture of a chicken of mine [who]
had the distinction of being able to walk either forward
or backward."—Flannery O'Connor, "The King of the Birds"

The camera man came as a big surprise.
As much of a surprise as how much
I liked it. A star starting its easy rise
against the flat Savannah sky. It was such
a rush to have all those adult eyes
trained on me and my trained bird. The hush
of expectation assured me that I
was different, the kind of child folks sought out,
took moving pictures of and bragged about.
I was goin' to be famous if I died
trying. But the bird distained the fame
I hungered for. She would not walk the walk.
I write stories now. But it's not the same
as the day they flocked to gape and gawk.


Angela Alaimo O'Donnell teaches English at Fordham University in New York City and serves as Associate Director of Fordham's Curran Center for American Catholic Studies. Her publications include two chapbooks and five collections of poems, Saint Sinatra (2011), Moving House (2009), Waking My Mother (2013), Lovers' Almanac, and Still Pilgrim (2017). Her work has appeared in many journals, including Alabama Literary Review, America, Comstock Review, First Things, Hawaii Pacific Review, Mezzo Cammin, Potomac Review, Runes, String Poetry, The Same, Verse Wisconsin, and Valparaiso Poetry Review, among others, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, the Best of the Web Award, and the Arlin G. Meyer Prize in Imaginative Writing. O'Donnell also writes essays on contemporary poetry and is a regular Books & Culture contributor at AMERICA magazine. A memoir, Mortal Blessings, appeared in 2014, and a biography Flannery O'Connor: Fiction Fired by Faith (2015) recently won first prize for excellence in publishing from the Association of Catholic Publishers. Readers may visit her website at angelaalaimoodonnell.com.


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Angela Alaimo O'Donnell
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The most recent addition to The Mezzo Cammin Women Poets Timeline is Etel Adnan by Joyce Wilson.

Save the date: A Celebration of the Timeline reaching 75 essays. Lincoln Center, Fordham University (Sponsored by Fordham's Curran Center) Friday, October 20th, 7 p.m.

Sacred Sisters is a collaboration between visual artist Holly Trostle Brigham and award-winning poet Marilyn Nelson, touching on such issues as gender and creativity, connections between the visual and literary arts, and religion and history. Brigham met Nelson at the all-girls prep school, the Baldwin School in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, in the Fall of 2012. Nelson was visiting the school as part of the Baldwin Write Now program and Brigham was a parent who co-founded the program and was her liaison for the day. They had the opportunity to visit and when Nelson asked about Brigham's work it started a conversation about nuns who were artists and writers. Brigham had already completed three paintings in her Seven Sisters II Series, later renamed Sacred Sisters.

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