c h r i s t i a n    p e e t

from The Nines


[ 5 9 8 4 2 6 1 7 3 ]



Frances Fragos Townsend

Assistant to the President

Homeland Security and Counterterrorism

Homeland Security Council



(ongoing memorandum)

Submitted herewith is the running memorandum concerning surveillance of the “Virtuous Pagans.” The new material added to bring this memorandum up to date is divided into two sections, New Intelligence and Intercepted Communications, and is as follows:


1) Intelligence indicates that Virtuous Pagan operations are underway to obliterate what the group terms “failed systems of conclusion” as well as the entirety of what it terms “The Order of Established Things.” At the time of this writing, the group’s purposeful ambiguity as to whether these “things” are physical in nature or are purely linguistic constructs, continues to hamper our efforts to investigate said operations.

2) According to a recent pamphlet, Wampum, Fair Trade, and Shoe Box Banking, distributed by the Virtuous Pagans, members believe “the existence of a set or collection of nine objects is a physical thing that exists without capitalism, but the number nine as an abstract object, as part of a system, is but one of ten digits co-opted by capitalism, and will not survive the extinction of capitalism and its proponents.”

3) According to the Virtuous Pagan Newsletter dated May 2007, the group now believes that they are part of a “cosmic, achievement-based trial” and that “there is often more than one acceptable solution.”

4) The newsletter also calls for a reappraisal of placards used in protests, suggesting “implementation of some sort of guidelines, however they may smack of censorship, for effective sloganeering.” The pamphlet goes on to caution members about “the continued use of outmoded and often conflicting imperatives, such as Teach Peace and Eat the Rich.”

5) Intelligence indicates that there are increasing variations in the habits, dress, mannerisms, and other outward characteristics, among younger members of the Virtuous Pagans. One agent in the Vermont reports, “younger members are less easily identified than Vermont’s own myriad plants and animals. Identification will likely come to require not only surveillance but also infiltration.” The FBI has stated that it will redeploy youth informants from faltering DARE programs.


Recently intercepted communications are still in the process of being decoded.

6) Vermont Senator Bernard “Bernie” Sanders’ March 24, 2007 phone call to John Fishman, wherein Sanders states “I’ve been trying to improve my backspin. I’ve discovered that the more tightly I curl my legs in toward my head, the faster I spin.” (Once the drummer for the now defunct musical group, Phish, which at its height commanded a cult-following of 20- and 30-year-old “ultra-progressive” types, Fishman is already the subject of ongoing investigations by this department.)

7) Frequent references, by several members of the Virtuous Pagans, to the idea that “memorizing every word in Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time can increase the order in our brain by about two million units.” At this time, we believe Hawking and his book are irrelevant, and are focusing instead on the phrase “two million units,” with regard to possible implications of weapons or narcotics imports, or distribution of same.

8) Frequent references to the “significantly elliptical” nature of Mars’ orbit. (Presently we are unsure as to what this phrase may refer, and are awaiting more information.)

9) In a May 13, 2007 phonecall to Senator Hillary Clinton, Mary Oliver indicated that she likely will need to step down as the Virtuous Pagans’ Poet Laureate, stating, “Unfortunately, art that depends too much on the joy of discovery inevitably declines when mastery is attained.” After a moment of silence, Oliver added, “Well, that, and it looks like I’ve been found out.” Agents are presently unsure as to what Oliver is referring when she says that she has been “found out,” although book reviewers have suggested that Oliver’s recent turn to traditional Christianity may have alienated some followers. Furthermore, FBI officials have assured us that nothing in the last two decades of Oliver’s work can be seen as subversive.

These activities are being closely monitored, and all new information received in this regard will be incorporated into the running memorandum, once each quarter, in order that you be currently advised with respect to this situation.


John Lilly, Jr.

Assistant Secretary

Office of Intelligence & Analysis

Department of Homeland Security

Washington, D.C.



CHRISTIAN PEET is the author of Big American Trip (Shearsman Books, 2009). The first installment of an ongoing project, The Nines, was published as chapbook from (Palm Press, 2006) and is available from Small Press Distribution. More of his work may be found in the anthology, A Best Of Fence: The First Nine Years, as well as in journals such as Bird Dog, Denver Quarterly, Fascicle, Octopus Magazine, Practice: New Writing + Art, and Sleeping Fish. He lives in Vermont, where he runs Tarpaulin Sky Press.

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