A Failure of Intelligence: Eleventh Battle Stations

Posted by ractrose on 17 Jun 2020 in Art, Poems

Pastel and pencil drawing of man's face with rueful smile



The Folly

Battle Stations





A Failure of Intelligence


You’re new

We have gone wrong in this affair, and it is not entirely

a fault of inexperience, however

it does appear you’ve tipped into error. I should like

to call attention to this failing

An operative must cultivate his own informants

He is expected to. He will have types of things…

You will. That you wish to know about the subject.

You are in charge and are the meter of reward

No, I don’t mean the measure

I mean it’s you pays out…or doesn’t, you know.

As to certain foibles you are trained to keep a weather eye

The deadly sins

pride, greed, vanity

no joke in our sort of business

yet readily you slide into the trap

Your man begins to order you about

You meet him in the usual way, but you forget

He mentions ‘something good’ just come upon

your career feels in the doldrums, nothing’s on

Or hell on every other front is breaking loose

while your own stand sits empty of custom

easy to fear you’ll be withdrawn and sent

to the north of Scotland


‘If I may…’

The colonel greets interruption…rather not interruption,

as he’d fallen silent—but what he’d very much like to call

Insubordination. With a silence frostier, prolonged

towards encouraging self-reflection, which he doubts will come

They are all Oxford chaps in this new branch

No army private would have dared

To speak of all words, those three

In answer to a superior officer




A Failure of Intelligence

Pastel and pencil drawing of 1930s bedroomDark Humour
















(2020, Stephanie Foster)




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