Art of Intelligence: A Life in the Theater


The Art of Intelligence is part of our ongoing series committed to providing a venue for the creative talents among our Intelligence professionals who work to make our lives safer— and, whose families are often in need of assistance. You may contribute to those currently serving our country or to the families of fallen heroes at

This following work is a poem by U.S. Army Intelligence Officer John W. Davis:

A Life in the Theater


Over the theater's portico a bizarre smile beamed down on us.
Wholly strange, hauntingly unempathetic; the eyes did not smile.
Was that supposed to be a man's face, or mask, with nothing behind it?
Dozens of statuesque womens' physiques, never questioning, ever present,
supported the pillars inside.
Never questioning, or warning, of the transfiguration the theater implied.
What you once were will never be the same again; what you once believed
will no longer be your bond.
Actors, marionettes, puppets, and wirepullers will be your newfound
friends, or cousins, or company men.
And you'll spend your entire life trying to determine which, or if.
Guessing is more productive.
Tromp l'oeil will be your pallet; your métier to show convincingly what
gets you through today.
Absurdity would thankfully excuse all this, yet there is nothing absurd
about off stage mystery, unexpected shots, and secret passages.
Doors to nowhere are real; death is not part of a game, no matter how
But then, the play's the thing, after all. You don't have a need to know
beyond that.