Marian Haddad is a Pushcart-nominated poet, writer, manuscript & publishing consultant, private writing mentor, lecturer and creative workshop instructor. Her book of poems, Wildflower. Stone., is the first hardback in the nearly-25-years Pecan Grove Press had been in existence, and is endorsed by Pulitzer Prize poet, Yusef Komunyakaa, who states, “this collection…celebrates the observable mysteries of daily existence…these poems have dropped all disguises, and each rides the pure joy of music. There are superb leaps and silences that deftly highlight the monumental in simple things.” In Former First Lady Laura Bush’s Spoken from the Heart, she references Haddad’s description of the light in Marian’s native El Paso. Haddad’s work has been covered by The Huffington Post and The Hallmark Channel. Her chapbook, Saturn Falling Down, was published at the request of Texas Public Radio (2003). Somewhere between Mexico and a River Called Home (2004) approached its fifth printing before the passing of H. Palmer Hall and was a Small Press Distribution Notable Book. Her poems, essays, reviews, and articles have been published in a number of literary journals and anthologies within the US, Belgium, The U.K. and the Middle East, most recently, The Kenyon Review online, and forthcoming in Crab Orchard. Her anthology publications include a gathering of Texas & Louisiana poets, Improbable Worlds; Before there Is Nowhere to Stand, an anthology of Arab & Jewish poets, and an essay in the anthology Fast Break to Line Break: Poets on the Art of Basketball. An NEH recipient, she completed graduate work in philosophy at Notre Dame and studied The Prose Poem at Emerson. She holds a B.A. in creative writing from UTEP and an MFA from San Diego State, where she was associate editor for Poetry International, Vol.3, securing Ingram, this issue first housed a portion of Merwin’s translation of Dante’s Purgatorio. Her manuscript clients have placed in numerous national contests and won sought-after book awards, chapbook awards, and single-piece contests. Haddad has taught creative writing at Our Lady of the Lake and Northwest Vista College, and International & American Literature at St. Mary’s University; she conducts workshops and private consultations at her home and at various institutions. A 160-page collection of poems, In this City of Saints, is forthcoming (Mouthfeel Press, 2017). Her works in progress include a collection of essays about growing up Arab-American in a Mexican-American bordertown, These Languages inside Our House; a collection on the burial cloth of Christ, entitled Tourmaline: Considerations on the Shroud of Turin; and a collection of poems about her father’s diagnosis through the day of his death and the washing of his body, entitled Gravity. She has blogged on her 2008 travels to Syria, for the San Antonio Express-News online, and hosted a running-blog for the same, entitled WORD UP.
House of Children
I lived first
in the house of my mother,
not in-between walls
of stucco or brick,
but in the one house
of children, there,
in the uterus
that held and cupped
the fetus, the twelve
conceived – I only know
nine – the first child died,
they say, a few months after birth,
the one blonde fair one.
Then somewhere between
the numbers and the flush
of grain, two slipped
out before their time,
and died lined in blood
and filament. And of the living,
another dropped. Taken
by cancer – one disciple falling
at a time, like peaches
off a tree – too ripe.
And now, there are eight.
One third of your children
are dead, Mother – one large cut.
It’s as if I can remember
floating at the core of you –
a slow motion madness –
a wanting to come out.
I’ve always been
impatient – but then again, how
it felt to be cupped
in your juices – tied
to all that fed
you, perhaps this is why
I love water, because I was never
able to return to your one house
of children. How we waited,
like yearlings, to open
our slow, fleshy lids –
inside you, but never seeing
the color of your walls.
(From Somewhere Between Mexico and A River Called Home, Pecan Grove Press, 2004.)
Raising His Face Towards the Light
My parents, Christian
Dad, and this one phrase
of a prayer, spoke
two of the Muslim 99 Names
of God, because
they are God-names.
Al Fatah. Al Razak.
The Opener. The Treasure-Giver.
Every sunrise, every,
Dad, in his blue pajamas, to the front living
area; the dining room windows,
best looked over the city, over the steep
incline on which was our house,
the last house we lived in, Father,
my Baba, every morning would mouth
his Arabic prayers, having flung
the olive embroidered curtains
wide, letting in
the southeastern sun
in his southwestern home,
the city to which he immigrated
from the Christian hills of Sooreeya,
the uppermost portion of WADAY IL NASARA,
village of Christians, a higher altitude,
the verdant land they made, apple orchards
plowing the fields;
and when he moved to El Paso,
first staying at Aunt Mary’s, he told us
the story; he’d look, while reclining
in the guest bedroom, at the wall straight in front
of him, where hung THE SACRED HEART
OF JESUS, and when he told us, years
later, he was boggled at how he might
make a living. No money. No language
but his own, he pointed to Christ and said,
in Arabic, but later translated, in story,
YOU MY PARTNER, in his heavy accent,
as he pointed towards Him. And every morning
as the sun skimmed over Murchison Street,
down towards Lamar, he would raise his face
towards the light, raise his arms
like The Maranatha Singers, and the two
words that would rise up each morning,
resonated, always, in my hearing:
AL FATAH, AL RIZAK.
THE OPENER, THE TREASURE
GIVER. My parents, givers of
life, poetry, faith,
a deep love of the land,
tenacity; 50 years old, Baba came,
I was not born yet. He knocked on doors
in the Segundo Barrio, all the way to Fabens,
Canutillo. Behind the levee.
Near ASARCO. Selling blankets,
blue jeans; writing
in his learned language,
the names, the dates, amounts,
add two couch covers, take
an installment, balance
like his life
in another town,
on the other side
of another river.
he carried in pockets,
looking out windows
on this new life.