poetry

From “On This World Where the Anglo-Zanzibar War Erupted” by Eileen R. Tabios

300px-AngloZanzibarWar
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From “ON THIS WORLD WHERE THE ANGLO-ZANZIBAR WAR ERUPTED”
—written partly through reading Semezdin Mehmedinović’s Sarajevo Blues
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Who designed shrapnels
So they can’t be cleaned out of
Flesh? Blocked consciousness
Does not react to war but
Prepares for years of battle
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I forgot the bodies of Kali warriors memorizing halad so that deadly positions surface more quickly and efficiently during hours of battle
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They allow the boy
To cut into the water
Line but the grenade
Gets him after he reaches
The end of such a short street
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I forgot curtains.
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I think solitude
Means the city is alien
We step over shards
Of glass glinting on the streets
People think only of now.
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I forgot the white light, white roses, white silk, white lace and white pearls that adorned my wedding—instead I remember this happy day included the whisper, “Mama, glass is easily broken.”
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Tabios Author PhotoA
Eileen R. Tabios loves books and has released over 50 collections of poetry, fiction, essays, and experimental biographies from publishers in nine countries and cyberspace. Her 2018 poetry collections include HIRAETH: Tercets From the Last ArchipelagoMURDER DEATH RESURRECTION: A Poetry Generator; the bilingual edition (English/Spanish) of One, Two, Three: Selected Hay(na)ku Poems; and TANKA: Vol. 1. Translated into eight languages, she also has edited, co-edited or conceptualized 14 anthologies of poetry, fiction and essays. Her writing and editing works have received recognition through awards, grants and residencies. More information is available at http://eileenrtabios.com
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Abandoned soliloquy by James Walton

Dawn of a new day

Photograph by Ghislain Mary

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Abandoned soliloquy
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a flotsam head
not quite ashore
treading water     seemingly
 
speaking ancient Greek or reformed Latin
who would know these days
 
drifting down a tidal river
to eastern beaches
water like tea
 
augury symptoms in urine
the lost squid in a rock pool
waiting for the afternoon tow
 
once hands held out arrival
for our beautiful roles
your ventriloquist’s tongue
in a perfect sentence
 
you drove the core out
peeled my love in one long threat
the scrutiny of your beak dissecting
 
no boat can get anchorage
the Antarctic breath colludes
capsizing histories
 
all along the shipwreck coast
our children      your new young lover
hoping the mast they cling to
has a future where the baggage
intersects a stranger’s journey
 
these serpent arms
that held your face in compromise
I licked the salt from your inner thighs
strangled ambition for a wanting
so powerful my eyes were burnt out
 
the estuary pushes
this infection squeezed abroad
one way a new continent
 
turn about parturient islands arch
hardy shoulders curse the dozen labours 
bent to the task like the trees of Patagonia
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 Jim portrait head
James Walton is an Australian poet published in newspapers, and many journals, and anthologies. Short listed twice for the ACU National Literature Prize, a double prize winner in the MPU International Poetry Prize, Specially Commended in The Welsh Poetry Competition – his collection ‘The Leviathan’s Apprentice’ was published in 2015.
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You can view more photographs by Ghislain Mary at this link https://www.flickr.com/photos/ghislainmary/

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Teresa: Translator by Stephen Page

woods

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Teresa: Translator
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You are the translator of my day.
I fall into your graphite eyes
When we transmute,
I find your hands
The hands of a maker:
Soft and crafting.
I want to caress the curve
Of your lip,
Speak to your breasts.
Become my left ear
And I shall remain my right—
Where we meet we will middle.                            
The spider feasts
In the web of my thoughts,
And pastures modern
The corners of your culture—
Remove the weeds
Of your socialization.
Idiom me,
Invite me into the woods of your words,
Seat me at your banquet table.
You are the coffee of my mornings,
The mate of my afternoons.
Why do you hide your syllables
Under your tongue?
Don’t you ever question
The power of words,
The meaning of sleep?
Yes, I know you do,
In nightmares—
And in this I second your revival.
The grass grows at night,
And in the heat of mosquitoes,
So let the windflowers grow,
Language me into the wood.
Ranch me where the city
Has not yet encroached.
Marsh me where the ranch cannot reach.
You are the queen of my kingdom,
That I have so temporally created.
You are the singer of my verse.
Interpret my dreams.
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Stephen Page phot with muse (1)
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 Stephen Page is the Author of The Timbre of Sand, Still Dandelions, and A Ranch Bordering the Salty River. He holds two AA’s from Palomar College, a BA from Columbia University, and an MFA from Bennington College. He also attended Broward College. He is the recipient of The Jess Cloud Memorial Prize, a Writer-in-Residence from the Montana Artists Refuge, a Full Fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center, an Imagination Grant from Cleveland State University, and an Arvon Foundation Ltd. Grant. He loves his wife, reading, travel, family, and friends. https://smpages.wordpress.com/
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Ornaments by David Daniel

ornaments

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By Lynette  G. Esposito

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Ornaments, by David Daniel, is a great read for lovers of poetry.  Divided into four parts, the sixty-four page volume of poetry shows insights into conversations with the self and how ones observations affect not only the narrator, but also the space around him and his readers.

Daniel uses common language and images to portray how everyday situations become representative of life’s struggles.  For example, Daniels in his poem The Naturalist says:

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          In nature, what is beautiful is poisonous,

          And if it is beautiful and easy to catch, it is likely deadly:

          This fact supported by naturalists worldwide.

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He then relates this to: prophets are sometimes beautiful and who are often blind and predict deadly futures.   He suggests no one is hurt by poetry.  He juxtaposes the concepts of the natural and unnatural with the effects they produce.  The narrator in this poem speaks of beheading poetry and drinking the poison of the moon. He catches a snake which bites him before it pours itself into its hole. The reader is left at the port of entry where language encounters the surprise of multi snake bites and escapes.

 In his poem The Mouse’s Nest, the narrator complains Madness, you know, creeps in– or you stumble on it.  The narrator’s definition of madness and his technique of using direct address to the reader set an unnerving scene.  The narrator discovers a mouse’s nest in an old trunk by the sea and the logical mind can see reality in an unreality:

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          Just who’s found the nest and when?  “The mirror of nature, you say,

          Just look at yourself.”  And I do.  A storm had washed in

          A wooden chest made to store what you need by the sea.

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The image of the self looking into the sea chest and back at itself over the discovery of a nest with a dead mouse and her babies clinging to her demonstrates how cruel nature can be in preserving evidence of once living creatures.  It feels like madness in the preservation of the dead creature entombed in a place it considered safe.

 The soft cover book released by the University of Pittsburgh Press, offers a clear vision into what poetry is and what it is supposed to be.  This book is well worth reading more than once.

 Daniel is the author of Seven-Star Bird which won the Levis Reading Prize given by Virginia Commonwealth University.  He is the editor of Ploughshares and founded WAMAFEST (The Words and Music Festival) which brings together many celebrated artists such as Bruce Springsteen with Robert Pinsky and Roseanne Cash with C.D. Wright.  Daniel is a member of the Bennington Writers Seminars.  He teaches at Farleigh Dickinson University.  He is a native of Danville, Kentucky and currently lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The book is available from University of Pittsburg Press and in e-book format.

https://www.amazon.com/Ornaments-Pitt-Poetry-David-Daniel/dp/0822965186

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Lynette G. Esposito has been an Adjunct Professor at Rowan University,  Burlington County and Camden County Colleges. She has taught creative writing and conducted workshops in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  Mrs. Esposito holds a BA in English from the University of Illinois and an MA in Creative Writing and English Literature from Rutgers University.  Her articles have appeared in the national publication, Teaching for Success; regionally in South Jersey Magazine, SJ Magazine. Delaware Valley Magazine, and her essays have appeared in Reader’s Digest and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Her poetry has appeared in US1, SRN Review, The Fox Chase Review and other literary magazines. She has critiqued poetry for local and regional writer’s conferences and served as a panelist and speaker at local and national writer’s conferences.  She lives with her husband, Attilio, in Mount Laurel, NJ.

The growth of a poet – John Keats (1795 – 1821): A brief introduction to his life and work

Keats life mask-large

From Keats House

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by Byron Beynon

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The imperial Tiber flowed through a city haunted by history. A fresh veil of Roman air covered the face of the river which continued to run its antique course. No birds sang in the darkness of the early hours of a February morning; daylight had yet to appear as a small group of silent figures stood outside a house to the right of the Spanish Steps. The only sound was that of the boat-shaped fountain as it bubbled, a cool witness in the eternal city to the final journey of a young man no longer a living citizen of the world.

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The young man who had died of tuberculosis (previously known as consumption) at the age of just twenty-five and whose body was taken to Rome’s protestant cemetery for burial was the poet John Keats, the youngest of the great Romantics and the first of them to die.

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Just three years earlier in 1818 Keats had published (with Taylor and Hessey) his second book of poems entitled Enydmion with its now famous opening ‘A thing of beauty is a joy for ever’.  Robert Gittings saw Enydmion as an exploration into self-knowledge for Keats and which represented an essential stage of his growth to maturity. Andrew Motion (in his biography of Keats) also argued that the poet was promoting beauty not as an escape but as a medicine.

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Keats’ first collection entitled POEMS (published by C. & J. Ollier) had appeared in March 1817. It contained thirty one poems, sonnets and epistles, including the skilful and subtle sonnet ‘On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer’ and ‘On the Grasshopper and Cricket’ with its confident opening line “The poetry of earth is never dead” but the book made little impression, and was largely ignored by reviewers.

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At this time Keats made several valued friendships among painters, poets and editors such as B. R. Haydon, John Hamilton Reynolds, Shelley and Leigh Hunt. Keats’ first published poem ‘O Solitude!’ appeared in Hunt’s The Examiner in May 1816.

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The poet and novelist Thomas Hardy particularly enjoyed hearing an anecdote told to him by a Mrs Procter who when she was a young woman had been visited by Hunt. He had been accompanied by ‘a youth whom nobody noticed much’ and who remained in the background, Hunt casually introducing him as ‘Mr Keats’. Mrs Procter had during her long life met several writers including Wordsworth, Coleridge, De Quincey, Cooper, Longfellow, Thackeray, Dickens and Charlotte Bronte.

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With the publication of his first book Keats became a dedicated poet. He worked for several months (between April and November 1817) on his second book; the epic, 4,000 lines long, Endymion. It was an important stage in his development, an apprenticeship essential to his growth as a poet and although flawed in parts, the disciplined effort seems to have brought Keats to the verge of his early artistic maturity. During the months he worked on the long poem he stayed on the Isle of Wight and at Margate, Oxford and London. Six months after he began Endymion at Carisbrooke he completed it at Burford Bridge in Surrey on 28 November 1818. A month before completing the poem he had written to his friend Benjamin Bailey about the epic he had nearly completed – ‘it will be a test, a trial of my Powers of Imagination and chiefly of my invention which is a rare thing indeed – by which I must make 4,000 Lines of one bare circumstance and fill them with Poetry’.  Bailey had invited Keats to Oxford where the poet spent most of September at Magdalen Hall and where he wrote the third book of Endymion.

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POEMS largely had been ignored by the critics and the reviewers seemed provoked that Keats dared to publish another volume. They attacked both his personality and work with spite and venom, notably in Blackwood’s magazine and The Quarterly Review. Blackwood’s tore it apart by saying ‘Endymion is not a Greek shepherd, loved by a Grecian goddess; he is merely a young Cockney rhymester, dreaming a phantasic dream at the full of the moon’.  Nevertheless as R. S. White pointed out in his book John Keats – A Literary Life ‘it was clear that Keats had been fully accepted now in a network of writers and artists, consolidating a year in which he had published his first volume of poems and had written his second which already had a publisher’s agreement. As a professional poet, he was on his way, and he no longer considered medicine a serious option except in panicky moments of financial difficulty.’

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Keats had been born in the parish of Moorfields, London on the 31October 1795, the son of Thomas Keats and Frances Jennings. Keats and his younger brothers George (who later emigrated to America) and Tom received a sound and enlightened education at John Clarke’s school at Enfield. His father was the manager of a livery stable who died as a result of an accident when Keats was only nine. His mother remarried and Keats, along with his brothers and sister Fanny, went to live with her parents in Enfield, later moving to Edmonton which were both rural areas at that time. A few years later, in 1810, his mother died of consumption. Her death affected him deeply, and ‘he gave way to such impassioned and prolonged grief … as awakened the liveliest pity and sympathy in all who saw him’.  He was then at the age of fifteen apprenticed to a surgeon, and he later studied medicine at Guy’s Hospital. He passed his medical exams in 1816, however he never practised his profession. He had already begun to write poetry and his public poetry life spanned barely five years but the legacy of those few years is an astonishingly rich one.

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Following publication of Endymion Keats went on a walking tour between June and August with his friend Charles Armitage Brown to the Lake District, Scotland and Ulster. It was during this tour that he wrote several new poems including ‘On Visiting the Tomb of Burns’, ‘To Ailsa Rock’, and ‘On Visiting Staffa’. He also climbed Ben Nevis but unfortunately was forced to break off his tour because of a severe chill and sore throat.  On his return to London he found that his younger brother Tom was seriously ill. He nursed Tom devotedly through the last stages of consumption until Tom’s death at the end of 1818. During these intense years Keats also wrote a series of wonderful letters on poetry, many to his brothers and to his sister, which contain his most influential ideas. After Tom’s death, Keats moved in December 1818 to his friend Charles Brown’s house, Wentworth Place, on the edge of Hampstead Heath.

His neighbour at Wentworth Place was eigtheen-year-old Fanny Brawne, five years younger than the poet. Keats became enthralled by her, expressing his passion in many poems and letters. During 1818 and 1819 Keats entered his ‘Great Years’ when he produced one masterpiece after another including ‘Hyperion’, ‘The Eve of St Agnes’, all his great odes (including ‘Ode to a Nightingale’, ‘Ode on Melancholy’, ‘Ode to Psyche’, ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’) and ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’, ‘Lamia’ and ‘To Autumn’. All (except the ballad ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’) were published in his third and final book of poems in July 1820 under the title Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St Agnes and Other Poems.

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During the winter of 1819 and 1820 Keats was ‘rather unwell’ and in February 1820 began to cough arterial blood. As a medical student he recognised immediately that this was his ‘death warrant’. The blow could not have been crueller because he had recently produced several of his greatest works and had also become engaged to Fanny Brawne. It was among the Brawne family that he spent his last weeks in England. By September 1820 Keats’ condition was desperately serious, and his friends believed that only the southern climate of Europe might cure him. A friend, the young painter Joseph Severn, sailed with him to Italy, first to Naples and then overland to Rome, where the two men took rooms on the Piazza di Spagna, near the Spanish Steps. Keats wrote no more poetry and after terrible suffering he died on the 23 February 1821. Those who attended the funeral at the Protestant Cemetery on the early morning of Monday, 26 February were Joseph Severn, The Rev. Mr Wolff the English chaplain at Rome who also conducted the service, two young English architects Henry Parke and Ambrose Poynter. Also, the artists William Ewing and Richard Westmacott, Dr Clark and Dr Luby.  As the biographer Richard Holmes noted ‘Listening to the plashing Bernini fountain in the piazza below his window, Keats framed his own epitaph “Here lies one whose name was writ in water.” His poetry has flowed out to generations of readers ever since’.

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For further reading and sources on John Keats:

John Keats: The Complete Poems edited by John Barnard, Penguin Books 2006

Letters of John Keats: A selection edited by Robert Gittings, Oxford U.P. 1986

John Keats by Robert Gittings, Penguin Books 1979

John Keats by Nicholas Roe Yale, University Press 2012

Keats by Andrew Motion, Faber & Faber 1997

John Keats: A Literary Life by R. S. White. Palgrave/MacMillan 2012

The Romantic Poets and Their Circle by Richard Holmes, NPG Publications 2005

Thomas Hardy: Half A Londoner by Mark Ford, Harvard University Press 2016

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Byron Beynon lives in Wales. His work has appeared in several publications including Poetry Ireland Review, Agenda, Plainsongs, North of Oxford, Poetry Pacific, London Magazine and the human rights anthology In Protest (University of London and Keats House Poets). Collections include Cuffs (Rack Press), Human Shores (Lapwing Publications) and The Echoing Coastline (Agenda Editions)

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One day, her hands became birds by Arlyn LaBelle

Gold Finch in flight 10-01-2012 460

Photograph by Richard Hurd

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One day, her hands became birds
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and he could not forgive her.
They ate sunflower seeds, and
dipped themselves in fountains.
Her hands slept in trees,
folding gently on themselves.
He missed the way they’d
weighed his chest like stones,
keeping him still as he dreamed.
He hated holding them now,
in his hands, their little hearts
beating.
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Writer's Photograph
Arlyn LaBelle is a poet and legal assistant living in Austin, Texas. Her poems have appeared multiple times in the Badgerdog summer anthologies as well as Words Work, Persona, The Missing Slate, The Blue Hour, LAROLA, JONAH Magazine, The Oddville Press, Songs of Eretz, Cease, Cows and The Southern Poetry Review.  Arlyn LaBelle Poetry
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To view more photographs by Richard Hurd please visit https://www.flickr.com/photos/rahimageworks/

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Intimations of Modernity by Howie Good

street preacher

Photograph by Don Scott

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Intimations of Modernity

You hear the screech of tires and some screams. You hear the roof vibrating and moving through the night. You hear about so-and-so committing suicide. You have to think of all the sounds like they’re a symphony, otherwise you’ll go crazy. You didn’t do anything wrong. You just want to know what actually happened. You glance one way and then the other. You ask, “Oh why can’t they get that baby out of the ground?” You don’t belong here. You need to leave. You have to have a bit of an attitude to pull it off. The police are the same as during Franco’s time, only they had horses back then. 

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The messiah of some obscure sect raged up and down the sidewalk, yelling, “I shall destroy all of the civilized world! You shall die by your own evil creation!” There was ash already in the air. I had never been in a war zone but I was pretty sure that this was what it felt like. By week’s end, I had become obsessed with my escape route. I pored over Google Maps, travel guides, railroad timetables. But, of course, when I opened the front door, I was confronted with fire. People just stood there and watched, happy to lurk unrecognized in the noise.

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I’ve read many times in newspapers of some kind of shooting. But actually experience it? No. Never. It’s like everyone is just doing Tarantino knockoffs. They’re imagining the pain of the bullets hitting them. I’ve seen the really bad stuff on television. They shoot seven people in the head, and then they rush to their cars and leave. What else could you have expected? This is our history, everywhere full of blood. It’s clear and simple, and it’s in HD.

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No, I don’t get it. How does anyone sleep at night or get through the day? We don’t yet have the tools to see what we’d really like to see. I can’t remember now why I ever thought we would. As we walk around, we meet orphans and autodidacts and then a man drinking in the woods. He keeps saying he’s going to kill someone. And no cops for miles. So, yeah, the best part of the day is early in the morning, very early, before something that hasn’t happened yet moves and just as suddenly stops moving. 

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A baby is crying on the ground. Everyone else is dead. No one I ask can tell me if this is real. “Sorry,” they just say. That’s the point. How we just don’t see very much of anything. There are so many refugees, and more coming all the time, and most of them have only a bit of white fluff, a frail bicycle, a bowlful of agriculture. I was once in a pretty bad car wreck. And it’s like that. We have a strange way of repeating history. I say “holy fuck” about 1,400 times a day.

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howie_good

Howie Good is the author of The Loser’s Guide to Street Fighting, winner of the 2017 Lorien Prize for Poetry and forthcoming from Thoughtcrime Press.

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You can view the photographs of Don Scott at this link:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/106721552@N04/

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