ART OF INTELLIGENCE: Guardian at the Gate

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, from his most recent compelation Rainy Street Stories.  Below is a story about his cousin, Pat, who will be forever eight years old.

Bone aching filthy scarecrows with machine guns and carbines kicked open the barn’s door. Finding the place empty, they collapsed for the night.

One threw his rolled up web belt down for a pillow, and claimed the only hay bin in the darkened cow shed. Better to sleep on a box cover’s too short wooden slats than to spend another night like a dog on the freezing ground.

With the pre-dawn, half dreaming awake, walking like dead men, the eye encrusted GIs moved out, to face another day at war in Germany. One man’s Wild Bill Hickok moustache alone stirred a smile, since it survived another night when others thought it would break off with the ice.

Only a couple days later would they hear that hay bin contained wonders beyond imagination. Titians, an El Greco, a couple Dutch Masters paintings, and smaller treasures were there, rolled up by some cultural vandal.

For that brief night, the mustached American paratrooper was like the Roman centurions of yore, protecting civilization with his very body.

“John Davis, recently retired from Army Intelligence, provides us with the conundrum of America in the current world of terrorism and hidden wars. How do we maintain our freedoms as we change and adapt to the new realities of engagement? While he gives us some answers, he describes the choices that we must make through analogies that clearly make the decision much easier. As he tells us in his prologue, “Nowhere is there a free pass from choices of good and evil.” It is as if he is alluding to the fact that it is not only Intelligence professionals, but all of us in a free America that must, on a daily basis, make a Hobson’s choice from among more than two equally unpalatable alternatives.”– D. Clark MacPherson, SoHo Journal.