I was 19 that winter,and writing in a attic apartment in Groton, Mass which I shared with a fellow instructor at Fort Devens, USASA School. I had just been informed that I was to be transferred to overseas field duty, promoted, destination classified. I had taken a big risk, and now I was going to be rewarded by being thrown through the veil of silent mystery known as NSA.  At that time, no one had any idea what this civilian agency we were attached to was. When I was discharged in May, 1962, 21 years old, but many years older in mind and spirit; I spent the summer polishing poems, learning Bach and Beethoven Sonatas, and silently watched my country slide into the gaping maw of Vietnam, which I had just left, and could almost feel the death of the friends I had left behind…  I started back at the university in the Fall…

I remember running across the poem below in my journal in late summer in its rough, scrawled out form and being struck at how prophetic it was of my then-current spiritual state- so I went to work on it… Now I look at it from a perspective of 53 years and am still struck by it’s spare honesty about a certain kind of moment in my life that seems to signal a major shift of perspective and spiritual change… I said that too quickly… it is not a quick state= Nothing…Silences…Null…Null…Null…bursting apparitions…Stark fears…love of darkness…Blood moving…no motivation…Stark fears…questions echoing…no motivation…flow breaking up into eddies, whipping into flow, yet…no motivation…ideas like froth on the pane of consciousness…moving blood…null…Silence is a wig I wear/ My face exploding out of hair…the owl’s scream that freezes prey for the strike…Silence on the cold stones…icy breeze on the cheek…fumbling to start a fire in sub-zero cold…Echoes of the question call= Why do we move at all? The match explodes into flame and is touched quickly to tinder, puff puff There it goes, wild exultation of heat on the brow, smell of singeing beard hair…Being and nothingness.  II  Though the mind lay itself down in sullen refusal, ‘the force that through the fuse drives the flower, drives my green age’, then I like Gargantua stride through the flung wide gate into tomorrow…

It is the breath; it is the heart; it is the growling stomach and legs itching to travel- we push out onto a new path… Because the mind lies, but the body stays honest.

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