Annie Diamond is a student at Barnard College, a private women's liberal arts
college affiliated with Columbia University. She has also studied abroad at
Mansfield College, one of the constituent colleges of Oxford University in
England. She recently completed her sophomore year at Barnard College, where she
studies English and creative writing. Her work has been published in Apt,
Avatar Review, Clockwise Cat, The Columbia Review, The Lyric
and The HyperTexts. She
was awarded first prize
in The Lyric's College Poetry Contest for her villanelle "The Difference
Between Lack and Absence." The same poem later won the Lyric Memorial Prize and
was named the best poem to appear in The Lyric for the year 2013. Her favorite writing spot is the Hungarian
Pastry Shop on New York City's 111th Street, and her number one life ambition is to appear on
"It was my honor and pleasure to judge The Lyric's yearly and
quarterly awards. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that my favorite poem for
the year 2013 was written by a college student, Annie Diamond. I believe she has
a very bright future."—Michael R. Burch
Update: Annie Diamond recently won the National Undergraduate Poetry
Competition. Her winning entry, "American Elegies, 1994-2014," was published in Cargoes, the undergraduate literary journal
of Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia.
The Difference Between Lack and Absence
Both mean not having, but one means missing too.
Absence can be welcome, but lack implies desire—
the absence of some noise, a lack of you
might be a good example. And it’s true
that lack makes judgment, means that we require
the thing that’s gone (a constant aching, too)
while absence just reports; we can make do
with smaller things; it doesn’t sound so dire.
Who needs the noise? (But I need you.)
Absence lets us start anew,
while lacking keeps us laced to its dark pyre.
Both are not having, but one is missing too,
and wanting nothing more than to undo
whatever sins caused lacking to transpire.
The noise is done, and so, I guess, are you
with me. In verse I struggle to subdue
my restless heart. (The lacking makes me tired.)
Both mean not having; one means missing too—
the absence of some noise, a lack of you.
for Mark Rothko
I was negative 24 when you slashed
your last stroke on the kitchen floor
Red and Red on Grey, 1970
you might have called it
depending on the color of the pills
(I guess the second most important
decision you made that morning was
what clothes you wanted
them to find you in: I picture a t-shirt rumpled
on your aneurismal chest, work pants, bare feet)
I was negative 54 when you slashed
half the syllables from your name
fearing the Final Solution
might make its way
to Brooklyn Heights
(I guess you couldn’t risk
keeping your -witz about you)
You’d been 40 years gone
when I hallowed your fruit stall colors
at the gift shop
bought an eight-nine-cent postcard
and clutched it like tefillin
(I hope you didn’t leave
your whole rainbow behind
I really hope you took
a piece with you)
She drank a Jameson and ginger ale
and I wanted to kiss her and our knees
brought forth a constellation in the dark
I tried and failed to find a name for it
Conversion of Paul the Apostle, Revised
He found his soul redesigned
not on a sunburned road to Damascus
ringed in brilliant light
but in the familiar autumn dusk
of once-home, behind the wheel, turning left
with coffee in the cupholder
and it wasn’t some
miraculous shift but another ache of being:
cracked fingers-pulled teeth-hot water burn,
bound to happen sooner or later.
The trees bent from him
like lovers sleeping back to back
and he drove up the space between their spines,
wheeling through cold bone, warm blood, arriving
somehow at the heart: tattered fist, red knuckled,
screaming for more blood and pummel,
it wanted to hurt—
he tasted on his lips the twin salts of leave and return
as the sightless sun descended, exalting fallen leaves.
The First Fallen Leaf
There was no great revelation.
No divine voice spoke of solstice, of season, of should.
I knew nothing but the language of trees,
their alphabet of boughs, we were their tongues.
I was not brave
because I had no courage
because when there is nothing
there is nothing to fear.
I reached to earth.
I bent to flight.
I floated down and side to side
and I did not know the wind until she carried me in her waltz.
The grass was cucumber-wet
and I learned in that instant of color, of coolness, of can.
Looking up, I could not decipher
how far I had fallen
for I knew not
distance, but closeness
and above me my brothers bowed together
and made a fine lace against the blue
and gold firmament
and applauded me with their smoldering fires.
Poem for a Man in All Likelihood Deceased
to Lawrence Graver Heidelberg, 1955
who made his name and whereabouts known
inside the cover of this first edition pink linen
bound book of cummings poems
that somehow stole across the sea
to a Massachusetts bookstore
where I a camp counselor
with an afternoon off paid
too much for it
the summer I was sixteen
because then there was nothing
worth more than poems that smelled
like someone had loved them long ago
I picture him outdoors an expat
who needed reminding but otherwise
nothing except a light
for his sweeter foreign cigarette
a debacle of the vernacular
i rather like the word
you like the word fiasco? what word fiasco?
what do you mean? i like the word fiasco!
a word fiasco? like a verbal disaster?
a debacle of the vernacular? a
distressing situation involving the english language?
what kind of person would think to enjoy a
well, i suppose this is a language calamity,
and i am quite enjoying myself.
jesus, you take everything so lite rally. that’s
the problem with you poets.
sleeping in socks
sleeping in my socks: a rare,
almost scientific occurrence
perhaps solely explainable by
my fierce concentration
upon this new, beautiful being
and complete disregard for
all things regular, shedding
my usual stoicism for
a perpetually foolish smile.
we let fly with formulas and theorems
slurring the ancient tongues of euclid and
pythagoras into a heady shout of battle.
our arrows are taut with number lines,
compasses drawn, protractor blades flashing.
cartesian planes swoop overhead,
overseeing the warfare in calculated silence
as we count the dead in imaginary numbers.