Tyler Mills

Declassified 1962



They eat close to the surf,

laughing as water un-combs

plum threads

from a surface that flickers

quickly in and out of



I wait for the sudden

sunset, postcard orange, sun-

less as it blooms.

One of the soldiers has a question.

He rubs his nose with his thumb.

Is it that silver


speck up there?

He’s in the cotton white

t-shirt you like to wear.

I fold your sleeves in a mess and press

them to my face—your

stink in the boat


seam of fabric.

“Where the Boys Are” by Connie Francis

drones from a radio speaker, her breath

mingling with the gold-

painted mesh.

They dig their feet in the sand


peaking here & there like buttercream.

Suddenly, the song

stupidly playing

breaks out

of shape, and the men



then stare

right at the sky.

Song Pulled from a 1954 National Geographic

with wires, needles, or beads of radioactive gold



It isn’t like the skin to choose transparency:

coffee too cool in a cup to blister the tongue.


When does the energy in your bone invite ghosts

to pick through your skull and touch the brain?


My coffee cools hardly hot into my palm.

Who knew the iron v’s of a linden leaf or dragonfly wing


could write through the skull and scratch the brain?

The material lifts lighter than a pencil scoring a game:


one for the iron veining your arm, a leaf, or the glassed wing of a fly.

Burn it longer than coal—more mixed in with the ash.


I won’t watch it lift like a signature from a page

or a piano wire that circles all the ships of the navy.


We burn coal and dream of more in the ash

the way alchemists always almost made gold in a lab.


And a piano wire will hum and hum for the dead.

And a remote control will protect you from the self in the mirror.


One element is now another like gold grown in a lab:

I’ve seen the gapped bridge between an oil field and the sun.


We can control a substance remotely. Like a second self in a mirror,

no sound calls to you from within the walls.


The gap between an oil rig and the inexhaustible sun

closes with words: isos (same) and topos (place).


No smoke emerges from behind the concrete walls.

Sometimes, I sense the presence of forces, unheard and unseen


from a single place. The same place. How

a beam of neutrons releases through an open lid.


Hold your breath against what you can’t hear or see:

your doctor may ask you to drink one of the vials.


Through an open lid, a beam of neutrons will release

the way the energy in a bone invites your ghost in.


Wing the thing your doctor asks. Drink. Drink.

Your body can be made again, transparent.




you represent a cloud,

perhaps showing it


soft and strong,

rapid yet


will you look out


as if


to say:



it just

like that?

Hawk Parable





TYLER MILLS is the author of Tongue Lyre, winner of the 2011 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award (SIU Press 2013).  Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, Boston Review, The Believer, Georgia Review, and Blackbird, and her work has won magazine awards from Gulf Coast, the Crab Orchard Review, and Third Coast.  She is editor-in-chief of The Account: A Journal of Poetry, Prose, and Thought and Assistant Professor of English at New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas, New Mexico.