I read “Ephemeron” quite some time ago and found myself immersed in this first collection of poems that I’ve read from the author T.R. Hummer. The overarching collection focuses primarily on the temporary stance of things – how fleeting life in and of itself can be, and things that exist only temporary in longer passages of time. And there’s an overarching theme that with this temporary status, death comes eventually.
If there’s one thing I can say of the collection as a whole, the imagery in this collection is wonderfully evocative and detailed, minute as if to capture something down to its molecules, atoms, even interesting in its focus on scientific, technical portrayals and language in turns. I could picture each of the fleeting moments that Hummer captures in each poem, some are dark in their reminiscence, and others are light, but temporary. It’s as if you get only a snapshot of the action going on in each theme, the parts of a much larger picture that unfolds all at once, shifting the lens from one measure to the next. I liked this kind of transition as well as the language supporting it.
On some levels though, there are a few selections here that I think missed the mark because they were a bit “too” technical, so much that some of the meaning behind them was lost. There were some poems that I wished I could’ve better grasped the meaning behind what they wanted to convey, because the idea is powerful, but I don’t always feel like I know what it’s trying to show beyond that construction. I can’t complain about the intricate attention paid to the form and structure, though. Hummer has a great handle and consistency through each part, and while there were poems that were hit and miss for me with meaning, I still appreciated them in retrospect.
I think among some of my favorite poems in the collection: “Ephemeron” – which was a wonderful introduction setting the tone of the entire work, “Interrogations,” “Abandon,” “Assimilation,” “Everything in the Past is a Particle,” “Everything in the Future is a Wave,” “Schematic,” “Ephemera,” “Everything That is the Case,” and “Evening Report.”
I’ll feature “Evening Report” to close out the review:
From a rural hilltop we observed unusual lights
just above the horizon: diffused illumination
Like sheet lightning, though of greater intensity,
and while it is true that after some minutes
A low rumbling reached us, we agreed it was not thunder,
its pitch and periodicity being too unpredictable.
One of us remembered how, in the ancient songs,
angels appeared to shepherds, and our sheep
Were, in fact, unsettled by the sky, and so we wondered.
But by morning the shrapneled bodies were arriving,
carted Miles from the destruction, to be sorted and burned.
Their anonymous smoke was observed by some
As a language of crosses over the vapor trails
resurrecting themselves steadily on the eastern horizon.
Overall score: 3.5/5 stars
Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher LSU Press.