The Hand Is Faster Than The EyeValentine is, of course, best known for his investigative non-fiction, which produced three of the most trenchant works on U.S. clandestine operations, both CIA/military and the "war on drugs": The Phoenix Program, The Strength of the Pack: The Personalities, Politics and Espionage Intrigues that Shaped the DEA, and The Strength of the Wolf: The Secret History of America's War on Drugs. (My own review of Strength of the Pack can be seen here.)
(Composed 11 September 2001)
I learned that lesson long ago,
It was the first articulated truth:
"The hand is faster than the eye,"
Said the raven to the youth.
There is love, and then betrayal.
There is a cause, and then there's none.
Then Mandrake lifts his velvet cape
And all you ever knew is gone.
Valentine has always been a sensitive and incisive commentator. One wonders how much the exposure to evil affects someone. Valentine recently made many audio tapes of his interviews with CIA and US military officials available online. The interviews were made during his research into the Phoenix Program. Certainly archiving the historical record is one way to address the contact with evil.
But poetry is another thing altogether, as it speaks more directly to the senses, to the sense of life and love that cannot be eliminated, and reminds us of our humanity, even when we are in or have entered some very dark places. - I haven't read Valentine's book yet. It's on order, but I look forward to getting my copy soon.
Three other poems excerpted from A Crow's Dream can be read here.