Jim Natal
Jim Natal is the author of the poetry collections Memory and Rain, Talking Back to the Rocks, and In the Bee Trees, which was a finalist for the 2000 Pen Center USA and Publisher's Marketing Association Ben Franklin Awards. His most recent poetry book, 52 Views: The Haibun Variations (Tebot Bach, 2013), was inspired by Hokusai’s ukiyo-e woodblock series 36 Views of Mt. Fuji, and is written entirely in the haibun form. A multi-year Pushcart Prize nominee (including 2012), his poetry has appeared in numerous print and online journals as well as in many anthologies, including New Poets of the American West and Beyond Forgetting: Poetry and Prose About Alzheimer's Disease. Natal was an executive for the National Football League’s Creative Services Group in Los Angeles for 25 years. He received his MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles in 2005. The co-founder of indie publishing house Conflux Press (www.conflux press.com) and founder/director of The Literary Southwest series at Yavapai College, he also teaches poetry and creative writing, and leads writing workshops. He lives in Los Angeles.

From the collection: 52 Views: The Haibun Variations by Jim Natal 


MY STUDENT WRITES

My student writes about his last day in Iraq, the one that ends with
his getting blown up by an IED. I try to separate form from content
the way the insurgent separated my student from much of his blood
and nearly his life. His essay needs a lot of work—spelling, punctuation,
flow. Point and support, point and support, I drone to the class.
No argument without example. No blast without detonation.

The rules of grammar,
dispassionate as a bomb;
each wire connected.


A WINTER SOLSTICE SNOW SQUALL

A winter solstice snow squall rattles and speckles the glass. I should
have sealed the windows as my neighbor suggested months ago. But
he used to be a contractor, understands drywall and caulk, doesn’t have
his manhood tested every trip to the hardware store; aisles of questions
and work I don’t know how to do, shelves of metal implements whose
shapes give no sense of purpose. I am truly my father’s son, five thumbs
on each hand—stripped screws and crooked nails. Maybe I can fill
the chinks with poems, put them to practical use.

To sharpen and hone,
words fine as Damascus steel;
my poetry tools.


2013 Jim Natal