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I Always Wondered

Jim Jensen

January 16, 2012

A poem  inspired by a personnel policy at USIA in 1961.

Back in mid-1961
for a very brief time
candidates for lateral entry
into the U. S. Foreign Service
had to endure hour-long
visits with a psychologist
and a psychiatrist.
I was one of those.
Yes, I had to interpret an ink blot.
And faced with the request
to “draw a person” had to choose –
man or woman?
If I drew a male figure
was I a latent homosexual?
And if drew a woman
was I a potential rapist?
Tough decision!
Then on to the psychiatrist.
More decisions. Couch or chair?
To smoke or not to smoke?
My choice in both matters.
Deep probing questions
on my sexual experiences, preferences,
and fantasies.
I asked him, “does anyone ever get up and punch you on the nose?”
Should I have dared
that bold attempt at humor?
The result of all this was
a decades long career with the Agency,
during which I often asked:
Was I one of a very few
American diplomats who was
certifiably sane?

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