In olden days, before the fall
Of willow trees and wailing walls,
Under a gray, foreboding sky
I met a spy who could not lie.
He waited in the Eastern Zone,
One ear cocked to the telephone,
Detached demeanor, gaze remote,
So nonchalant in brown trench coat.
His eyes displayed intrigue, not dash.
He puffed a subtle calabash.
To passersby he gave a smile
That spoke more vigilance than guile.
No stranger to the strangest land,
At ease in France and Kurdistan,
There was no code he could not break
nor surveillance he could not shake.
His skill at espionage was great,
Yet, sadly, he was second-rate,
Always undone, and this is why;
He simply could not tell a lie.
I'm told he stole the secret key
To Lenin's hidden treasury,
Then, with a little sleight of hand,
Swiped communism's master plan.
He almost fooled a border guard,
Showed him a passport, nicely forged,
But slipped when asked, "Are you a spy?"
"I am," he said. "I cannot lie."
The state police employed abuse,
But torture proved to be no use;
Although he withstood horrid things,
At last, he told them everything.
Asked nicely, he could not refuse
To give away strategic news;
The business plan of Motorola,
The formula for Coca Cola.
He diagrammed for one and all
The trick to winning basketball.
And at his trial he testified,
"I am a spy but cannot lie."
The prosecutor for the state
Demanded quite the harshest fate
The law could serve upon this spy,
Who, honest, showed fear in his eyes.
"To spy is not a noble thing,"
The judge announced unwavering.
"But I am moved to set you free,
Impressed so by your honesty."
Rewarded then as true and right,
He met an unintended plight,
A logic he could not defy:
What use, a spy who cannot lie?
Alas, sad hero found no joy.
His country no more dared employ
This man thus modeled from the pale
Of Washington, not Nathan Hale.
Oh, vainly still he waits the call
To serve again with wherewithal,
Yet lacks needed dishonesty
To steal the truth shall set us free.