Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Arboretum (Remix of 'Oh?') (2009)

'Arboretum' by Nathan Moore
(a remix of the Stu Hatton poem

Our golden dream:
the trees have been taught to enter text.

The trees are confused
by our mixed messages.

The city’s trees are radioactive. The wind
in their branches sounds like techno.

The trees can’t tell girls from boys. They need
a handbook.

When the weather’s warm we get unruly
in the rooms between the trees.

Oh, I knew this would happen. That cranky tree
bit me and broke my arm.

The tree on the tram is a tourist.

Imagine this request: be my endless resource.

Along the bald coast, among the poisoned bays, the last blue
pine shudders with fatigue.

When the trees come back they’ll be digital and they’ll
rule the planet by force.

I have difficulty forgetting
what trees look like.

Must we fail? Must we soak in sap? Hold a knife
to the living throat?

Now we raid the commons. Now we are alone.
Now it’s just us and the gods staring awkwardly at each other.

Consider optics. Consider perspective. Consider the horizon
without that tree.

* * *

Nathan's Process Notes:

Like Dana, I couldn’t keep away from Stu Hatton’s
proposal to remix poems on his blog. Although Stu is open to different methods regarding the remix exchange, I gave myself the task of using every word in his poem, “Oh?” I love the way thoughts like “we fall awake” surface and submerge in this work.

I read “Oh?” twice then waited a few days to let it stew in my brain. Like Dana, I made a
Wordle image out of it. The image is a cloud of words from a given text. Word size is determined by the frequency of the word in the original text. In this case, “tree” was the most frequently used word, so I decided to make that the core of the poem thematically and in terms of its appearance in each line. Because I wanted to use Stu’s every word, my poem ended up twice as long as it is now. Dana and I agreed, though, that the second half seemed unnecessary after the line that begins “Consider optics …”

About Nathan

Nathan is a father, poet and painter from Columbus, Ohio. His work has appeared in
Saggio Poetry Journal, Asphalt Sky and ouroboros review. Together with Dana Guthrie Martin he edited the 'mutating the signature' issue of qarrtsiluni. He and Dana also co-maintain an excellent blog

Note from Stu

I really admire what Nathan's managed to do with my poem, which itself is still very much a work in progress. I think it's a terrific remix, and that's not just because I'm a lover of trees. It reminds me a little of Wallace Stevens'
'Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird'. Nathan's meditations and manipulations have the effect of making trees seem 'as strange as they are'.

I'm considering remixing Nathan's remix(!), but first I'll keep up my end of the 'remix exchange' bargain, with a remix of Nathan's poem
'Sharps'. I'll post it on here as soon as it's ready.


  1. Hey, thanks for posting this, Stu. I had a good set of words to work with. This remix exchange is a great idea, really fun. And trees are strange, aren't they?

  2. Hey Nathan, I'm glad you enjoyed yourself! I see trees and think, "What can be said?" I like the answers you've come up with. ;)

  3. The tree outside my window hates me. It's hated me for years.