The Art of Intelligence

Painting by James Hart Dyke
This section features creative work by the unsung heroes of the U.S. Intelligence community.  The following poems are written by John W. Davis, an Intelligence Officer with the US Army.

THE COLDEST SEASON
If her ginkgo grew on a university, it would be a quiet rendezvous for young lovers.
Rather it stands by a bench, in a long ago planted grove, crowded now by other,
more European trees.
I’ve watched her here since springtime, with freshets of breeze the only motion in her blonde hair as she reads.
In summer by Sonnenbad she is passed only rarely by walkers, out to enjoy
this path by the lake.
Only I see, but am not seen. This abandoned electrical building appears blinded by time.
Yet its window lives.
I know her better than others, since I observe,
while others only see.
Her umbrella has two rods, where there
should be only one.
Removed, only a natural observer would note it was not a branch, laid next the ginkgo.
She stands, packs her book, adjusts her coat belt, and leaves me; I watch the branch.
A boy comes by, often within a day. He always collects branches.
If noticed at all, one thinks the better of him; keeping his family warm.
I see him always retrieve that branch
which she left him.
He’ll tell us more, but little of value, since he only retrieves and delivers.
She never saw him, but I did.
If it all were different, I could have met her. Only my films now remember those days.
Even now I watch her, on a film by the person I once was; unseen yet there.
I knew her well, and my films
helped us know her more.
I watched from the window for the last time … in autumn. The wind blew some leaves by my window, and then I took a walk.
If it were all different... but of course it wasn’t. My films betrayed her
as much as a kiss.
­—John W. Davis
US Army Intelligence Officer


FLIGHT FROM THE PEOPLES REPUBLIC 1985

Genus Humanus must deceive
before it can kill.
The lure is relief from fear;
a lulling sense of peace.
Desperate, they broke through the woodline onto a quiet meadow;
Desperate as they burst from a forest fastness
To behold a freshet of water which coursed through open, grassy field;
Leading to a footbridge,
then a little guardhouse.
The red and white crossbar indicated
the frontier station,
And a vanishing line of blue and
white posts the Bavarian border.
West German guards welcomed them
as they collapsed in joy.
Then fresh beer, hearty wursts,
a delirious warm shower, sleep.
Next day they told the Americans
who arrived everything;
Their route, their helpers,
their hopes and dreams.
Only then were they arrested.
The border, a sham; the guards, East Germans;
The Americans, not at all. How could they have known?
They never suspected; their dreams would die first, then their bodies.
­—John W. Davis
US Army Intelligence Officer

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