Aviator without a Mask: Poems
thesisposted on 21.07.2015, 00:00 by Tyler Mills
“Aviator without a Mask” begins by questioning a mystery surrounding my grandfather’s possible involvement as a pilot in the Nagasaki mission and then moves into an exploration of the numerous nuclear tests the United States military conducted in Nevada and in the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. A number of the poems in “Aviator without a Mask” adapt language from prior materials, such as declassified detonation footage, government reports, and articles from mid-twentieth century issues of the National Geographic as a way to thread the voice of a lyric speaker through a historical archive. This archive has allowed me to think through a tension between two lyric ideals: one, that the lyric speaker sings—often as though outside of mortal constraints—from a place of individual loss, and the other, that the lyric creates a world from this loss that is paradoxically contingent on the potential of its own destruction.