In These States is a partial road atlas of the contemporary U.S. soul.
Each of us has various existences, only a few of them coinciding precisely with the boundaries of our neighborhoods. The poems in this book are haunted by precise and troubling questions: What, exactly is the condition of the body politic, and how does that condition affect us, both in large and small ways, in abstract and concrete symptoms, in dailiness and in eras? What is the relationship, exactly, between the individual citizen—a unique body in its own right, but also a cell, so to speak, in a greater body?
The questions T.R. Hummer raises in these poems have no answers, but they have existential manifestations.
The Day Before
At 3 a.m., the small watchfires of anxiety
light up in my body. They spread out on the edge
Of the battlefield, where sentries crouch to stay warm.
The air smells of clover and gunpowder. The flames
Are married to the dark, they are nothing without it,
and the wounded are crying for mercy in forgotten tents.
I look at the clock again, its enlightened, inhuman face.
I clench my pillow, fix my bayonet, and advance.