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About this Poem 

“‘Mike Test’ refers to the first true hydrogen bomb detonation. Part of Operation Ivy, this test took place on November 1, 1952, and vaporized the island of Elugelab in the Enewetak Atoll.
Tyler Mills

“Mike” Test

I was going to write about a crescent
of honeydew melon. An artist told me

she paints grids when she isn’t
certain how to begin. A grid of steel

stores nuclear fuel below the surface
of pools in temporary rooms

with red railings. I glanced at one image,
then checked my email, my nightshade

tank top wet against the dip in my spine
you might like to touch

and say, Stop. Have a glass of water.
There once was a structure three-stories tall

built on an island Japan surrendered.
This building was a bomb.

At its center, liquid hydrogen filled a thermos.
We nicknamed it after an angel

appearing in the Bible, the Torah, and the Qur’an.
Or maybe the name could have come

from a football player of the Fifties
we might remember on Trivia Night.

I think how hammers strike the thinnest
wires inside a piano. Hard.

Once, we evacuated the coral shore
my grandfather flew over

in a B-17—the typed label of his photo
half torn. The Department of the Interior

Master Plan shows where the people will live.
I swallow vomit after watching

the island wart into an orange bulb. Just before,
birds glanced off the shimmering water.

Copyright © 2014 by Tyler Mills. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2014 by Tyler Mills. Used with permission of the author.

Tyler Mills

Tyler Mills

Tyler Mills is the author of Tongue Lyre (Southern Illinois University Press, 2013). 

by this poet


My father’s mother grew a garden of zinnias
to divide the house from the woods:

pop art tops in every color—cream,
peach, royal purple, and even envy

(white-green, I knew, and when the pale
petals opened in early August,

I thought they’d blush like an heirloom
tomato, heir-


I thought I would write a novel
about the window with its shadow
set in the two-story house.
Cézanne stands at the sunchoke hedge,
alone and licking a brush
among the tree’s traces of changing shade.
The woman—I named her
and almost saw her—could be
flapping a pillowcase at