Finders Keepers: Code Poem (1969)


By News & Resources Editor Martin Elwell. Send me your found poetry news.

Think appropriation is new? Think again. The Poetry Foundation recently shared “Code Poem” by Hannah Weiner. The poem appeared in March of 1969 and was sourced from The International Code of Signals for the Use of All Nations. Check it out here.


1 Comment

  • July 28, 2014

    Lewis Oakwood

    Some phrases taken from ‘Language of Espionage · International Spy Museum.’

    The title of each phrase could be used as a style of found poetry. Burned = Burn away (literally) some text and see what remains. Cobbler = Take some sentences from passports, drivers license etc and cobble together a poem. Compromised = Take a piece of writing and distort it, leaving it compromised. Etc…


    Language of Espionage

    Burned – When a case officer or agent is compromised.

    Cobbler – A spy who creates false passports, visas, diplomas and other documents.

    Compromised – When an operation, asset, or agent is uncovered and cannot remain secret.

    Cut-out – A mechanism or person used to create a compartment between the members of an operation to allow them to pass material or messages securely; also an agent who functions as an intermediary between a spymaster and other subagents.

    Discard – An agent whom a service will permit to be detected and arrested so as to protect more valuable agents.

    Innocent Postcard – A postcard with an innocuous message sent to an address in a neutral country to verify the continued security of an undercover operative.

    Legend – A spy’s claimed background or biography, usually supported by documents and memorized details.

    Nugget – British term for the bait (money, political asylum, sex, or career opportunity) offered to a potential defector.

    One-time Pad – Strings of random numbers for singular use as a key in enciphering messages; the proper use of a one-time pad renders a message mathematically unbreakable.

    Pattern – The behavior and daily routine of an operative that makes his or her identity unique.

    Plaintext – The original message before encryption.

    Sanitize – To delete specific material or revise a report or other document to prevent the identification of intelligence sources and collection methods.

    The Take – Information gathered by intelligence collection operations.

    Throwaway – An agent considered expendable.

    Tradecraft – The methods developed by intelligence operatives to conduct their operations.

    Window Dressing – Ancillary materials that are included in a cover story or deception operation to help convince the opposition or other casual observers that what they are observing is genuine.