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M.T.C. Cronin ,,,,, Dan O'Donnell ,,,,, Kevin Gillam
Dawn Bruce ,,,,, ,,,,Phil Ilton ,,,,, ,,,,,,,,Ryan Scott
Suzanne Covich ,,,,,Stephen Oliver ,,,,, Kathryn Hamann
C Paice ,,,,, ,,,,, ,,,,Carrie Sonneborn ,,,Alistair Paterson
Graeme Miles,,,,,,,,Peter Zohrab ,,,,,,,, Jan Price
Note Kelly Pilgrim's new website <http://metaphor.iinet.net.au>
Anthony Lawrence, Writer-in-residence for May 2002 at KSP in WA.
Newcastle Poetry Prize Announcement of Winners
within the sightless marrow
he makes music,
takes his cello
voice of leg and wood
ans sings it, moist, mournful,
sings through the sieve
that is night
and she breathes it,
breathes in his song,
head tilted, drinking
fermata between the flows
as if deciding when to feed,
when to let go
4 POEMS FROM THE FOUR NOTEBOOKS
FROM 'NOTEBOOK OF SIGNS'
Jesus, Man, Holder of Fiction
Jesus, man, holder of fiction,
keeper of the truth, I can concentrate
on feeling my body in space.
If not to be proud, why this spine,
pushing up my head
with that face on it?
Another god might have come
in a jacket
and not wanted mine!
FROM 'NOTEBOOK OF SHAPES'
the secret dangles
from the unimagined mouth
unmined and recognized
by all who never saw
it is like a diamond
dragging a mountain
to the edges of its top
there's the sun
and there it's not
dangle that secret
it's a finger of toe
finds a path with the goats
quicker than a cloud
and just as slow
FROM 'NOTEBOOK OF SAND'
A Green Hat
The sky leaves us
Even Cronin is leaving me
That clown that spiny seed
By which I have become
Affectionate to myself
I saw a chair tossed out
On its old legs
And I asked the chair
If it could stop me talking
Now I'm creeping on my secrets
The secret of who I am myself
Towards a death in which
I might be rediscovered
I will wear a green hat! Yes!
That's what I'll do!
The wind will blow in the head
Of a bird and the sky will return
That sky and my name
To round up the sieve holes
Through which I have broken
To tame me again
As the single lamb
A green hat can do all this
I am Cronin!
FROM 'NOTEBOOK OF NERVES'
Because we are women
there are acres of light
There is yellow in the zoos even
and all the right kind of drama in our love
We lie on top of our paintings
like red butterflies who have lost all their vowels
Over the other side of the sun
is the food of our uncast punctuation
Shaving the stars' points
are the marks in our books
we shake the questions from our wombs
We turn in the life-burn
the turn of life
Filled with the death ache
the ache of death
bestseller: $22 with postage ($24 overseas)
everything holy: $17 with postage
Wings aloft unmoving,
she pauses, fair coquette,
then like a ballerina
performs a pirouette.
Next comes a port de bras
that starts the bending plies
performed amongst the garden flowers
and Nature's birds and bees.
Her supple wings start stretching
in delicate tendus
to concentrate the dancer's mind
and honour the Dancing Muse.
A ronde de jambe a terre
- or circling the leg on the ground -
precedes some rhythmic frappes
where the foot will gently pound
before a dramatic arabesque
- a disciplined ballet pose
with not the slightest movement
on the very tips of toes.
And if you watch her closely
you'll witness a hard fouette
- not thirty-two spins as for Black Swan,
just one for our nymphette.
Unmindful you are spying,
she'll delight and entertain
in your exclusive Covent Garden
- your own Margot Fonteyn.
Dr. Dan & Mrs. Marion O'Donnell
89 Wilgarning Street
Stafford Heights, Q. 4053
By the Window
He sits by the window
a blood-red flower,
as the bloom dies slowly.
He sits near the window,
feels the light on his skin
like the love-making hands
that held and warmed him,
hears the breezes,
their sighing and whispering
like the voices in shadow
on the day that she left him.
He plucks a fresh bloom
from her garden
and sits by the window,
only the sunlight.
On sandstone flagging
laid out by men
two women sit,
their backs curved
to the sun.
The day is cool,
but the tawny yellow
of this stone nest gives comfort,
sheltered all day
in arm of timber alcove.
The trellis swells
imparts a perfume
more delicate than
a baby's sigh.
away to clumps of flowers,
a wild delight of life
thrusting jewel-red heads
with more intensity
than any monarch's crown.
incline their heads,
shift and shuffle
back into the past,
pick at ancient sores.
The blood seeps,
the scrubbed stones
to leave dark stains,
like bruises on
a weary skin.
You wrote you do not mourn
our lost connection.
My face looking at you
across the clear beach water
is a memory.
I'm looking again at the water.
Clear can be cluttered.
the plethora of plankton,
As nature abounds
so my thoughts, my emotions.
My expectation was unattainable,
too finely tuned.
a wire crossed with your assumption.
Like a volcanic eruption
interfering with reception,
your telephone temper
cut our communication.
As I pick my way
through the fallout.
Our Course Has Run
I knew the evening would be pleasant.
I was happy to have a lump of sugar
and survey the course.
Couplings of the past
were paled by the ecstasy
of our unequalled fusion.
That night was no brief circuit.
We left the stable to ride for many more.
There were no hurdles.
We were far above the track.
When the loss of momentum came,
descent was marked by divergence.
Our different weights
not obvious at the start.
I am aware of my clinical analysis.
My distance demonstrates difference.
It does not quell sadness.
The lump is now in my throat.
Nowhere is Nowhere
Based on an incident during my solo bicycle ride in the outbac
I thought three hundred and twenty-five kilometres
without a building, was nowhere.
I thought a refreshing beer and a comfy bed
were many days ahead.
I thought an oasis was a clump of palm trees
shimmering in the haze above a sea of sand.
I thought bush tucker was a charcoaled steak
or a can of beans.
I thought a royal flush was something the Queen
did after farting in public.
Two hundred k's from the nearest roadhouse
I found my oasis:
two lumps in the road
into Frank and Mark
shovelling stones into potholes.
I quaffed the cold tinnies
Frank thrust in my hand.
I devoured the curry
Mark cooked in their caravan.
I discovered a different royal flush
and won the card game.
I celebrated this paradise
in the comfort of their spare bunk.
I'll never call anywhere, nowhere, again.
"Can I help you?" he probes.
"I used to live on this street" I assuage, "as a kid, 40 years ago."
His suspicious eyes dissolve
he proffers change and progress cliches,
leaves me recreating our house, which is replaced with....
EVEN THE BLOODY BOUNDARIES HAVE CHANGED!
Somewhere beyond that milk bar, those units
was our backyard where we built our billy-carts
fashioned our bows & arrows.
I was Robin Hood, Jungle Jim, Davy Crockett, Hopalong Cassidy
Blackbeard the Pirate hurtling orders to me hearties
until my deck - a tree branch - snapped.
I threatened to punch Raymond D on the nose and never did.
Toddler me ate snails from Mum's geraniums
ran pantsless from the dunny yelling there were snakes
graduating to 5 year-old Man splitting kindling
and with me mates driving matchbox cars through Dad's garden,
our Eden, where we snapped cobs from cornstalks....
GIVE IT BACK!!
"Excuse me, have you got the time?"
Corn cobs, impervious buildings, and a pimply-faced youth
compete for focus
until left brain grapples his answer from my watch.
Cursing at the hour
I head for the car and appointment with my Specialist
telling myself she's not a geriatrician.
Umbrellas of Glebe
Black plastic ripped,
into full bins,
handles up, without sails
of coffee stained paper-
for the galvanised banister
as the water in
the gutter thickens,
the sidewalk, bins and 'brellas
The sun is up.
The sun is out.
The sun gives you cancer, but
in the trickles,
and the conversation for today
Even in her favourite chair
tilted at the same soft angles of light,
uncertainty's pleasant tang
mixes with the old comfort of tea
with a slice of lemon:
for aching bones
or because it is the afternoon.
It could be tomorrow
or years from now.
And if tomorrow,
In the dignity of morning,
or at noon
with over boiled potatoes
stuffed in her mouth?
The rain, though,
can be relied on
even if it is summer.
It washes away its own traces
and the sun clears the rest.
The mechanics of each droplet:
the way, on impact,
it forms the shape of an old flan tray, forgotten
as are all the best jokes.
But her family will keep her
- the way she snored,
- the fact she didn't take sugar,
- her favourite dresses.
Their flow of reminiscence
will be her June, July and August.
The Problem Is
does not stop to think
about the poor boys
and girls who've got
In the flick
the bounce in his walk
fairly talk, tip-toeing
across the stage
he's a boy
his mother says
said the psychologist
psychiatrist, chaplain, captain
of the boy's footy team
said he's confused.
Accept him for who he is.
Love him along the way.
(the priest came before the captain
to the boys
and the girls.
So they say.
And last week he straddled
the leg of a boy and rubbed
himself up down up down
come on come on come on out
with me he said in the rhythm
in the rhythm of his rub.
So they say.
The problem is.
soften the way he
moves on in, back off
a little, keep his quiet -
hush little baby ...
you take those pills!
They say I'm a paedophile
I'm self mutilating,
when all I did was stick this pin
through this long nail
through this long nail.
You see how long this long nail is.
He tells me.
What's a paedophile?
The Writin's On The Wall
Hard for me to silence
the voice of the mother
or clear from my head
the vision of her
attention from the boy
she's born and raised
to do the right thing -
always the right thing
to follow the youthful
upholders of morality.
Not that she'd acknowledge this.
(Her boys are good boys)
And neither does she acknowledge
the influence of the father
born into wartime Poland
near to the smokestacks at Auswitch.
They saw the trains come and go.
In fact, her mother cleaned up
the bones - the flesh and blood.
She scrubbed and disinfected those cells
till they shone like new -
shone like the face
of her fair skinned blonde
blue eyed boy. The image of his father,
she says, and says no more.
But now. His grades fall,
as did the grades of his
older brother. He's smoking dope,
mixing with the wrong crowd,
stealing from unattended
bags at lunchtime
and walking in the shoes of the brother
who'd set fire to the carpet in my room
Once. She blamed the system.
And when the doctors diagnosed
her eldest son's deficiency,
she was relieved.
And now, she speaks of my sexuality.
Not that she has a problem, mind.
"But he? He just cant handle it.
The boy." She tells the deputy,
her voice clutching my mind as I watch
the early morning honey suckers balanced
exquisitely above the bird bath
and recall the time she'd told me
that her mother never quite managed
to scrub the stains from all those walls.
"Come To Me, Notice Me, Love Me"
(A Desert Song)
O Mister Torturer! play a threnody
upon your accordion, hauntingly low as
a breeze through rushes, let flow the
dark streams, I pray. Ai, strike up songs
of javelin-hurled oaths in the desert,
suddenly flashing on the gem blue sky.
Shalom! Ah, Shalom!
Grand Inquisitor! place the sacred
amphora by the cave mouth deep within
this desert stark and red as Adam's rib;
the broken, ridged land asks no blessing.
Fiercely blooms the Temple Garden
though bronze helmets flash at the gate.
Shalom! Ah, Shalom!
O Noble Inflictor! draw water from
a tribal well that I might slake this thirst.
Summon the street-rabble that they
may give praise, kneeling before these
anointed visions and triumphal vistas;
blow the trumpets, announce my arrival.
Shalom! Ah, Shalom!
© Stephen Oliver
This desert song or incantation is taken from a group of Coptic texts
known amongst Hebrew and Middle Eastern Scholars as the 'Ennoia' folio,
from the Greek meaning, A Thought, seventh century B. C. It belongs to a
collection of papyri fragments, Codex VI, tractate I, written in ancient
Hebrew and Greek characters housed in the New Babylonian Library of
Baghdad. There is some suggestion that this text, sung over the
preparation of date wine, is largely satirical, warning against the
dangers of overly-grand hospitality. For my translation, I have used two
heavily glossed and interlinear renditions from the Iraqi Lecture
Series, vol iii, section C, page 17, pub. (March) 1958, Baghdad
University Text Society. æ S.O.
The Great Unsaying
And the Lord came down to see the city and
a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven
Genesis 11: 4
Farther off, came lightning silent and unanswering,
the tower that emerged from between the flashes - solid
as an after-image, and then again, with each
intermittent opening out of darkness, the figure enlarged,
advanced, message-bearer, refugee from a tongue-
tied past, a bronze shield hanging off the darkened wrist.
He brought with him, and in the turbulence that
surrounded him, memories of words knotted along the
rope of language, the iron roar of the rabble rising
and falling, the flayed backs of the orators retreating.
Every portal round the tower consonantal, every window
an enjambment, the noise rose, a drowning roar -
unstoppable, even under the abstract gaze of the linguists;
voices shrieked back into primal colour - every
portal seemed a stopped-up mouth that spiralled the honey-
combed tower; and this monument, curled into a ram's
horn became vortex and blasphemy. Temple or tower,
he lamented what once had stood shaped to cup hand
and mind holy as a grail. Only his closeness now fathomed
the air, tumbrels of boiling cloud carried the speech,
upon whose face contorted words, and every word a leech.
© Stephen Oliver
[Sealed Orders for Mark Pirie]
I dream I'm up to my eyelids in concrete.
Glass vials of skyscrapers fill up with
red-gold light. It might be dusk. I could be
a medievalist come back, time-looped.
It's then I reach for your book, NO JOKE
to lift myself up into these coruscations.
Your poems create a lattice-work, Moorish,
a courtyard garden. I see the world pass by,
a frieze of pleasant and not so pleasant things.
It's then I come across the phrase tessera:
'past the mosque where shoes light up /
the pavement like undiscovered jewels.'
It's then I say, this book is rich in pirietics -
the gangster poet at the margins of the city.
Words lit as on a digital billboard turn about,
bringing the news home to Times Square.
Tuesday, June 5, 2001
Stalin's Cotton Socks
Joe, you drank the Aral Sea dry.
Fishing boats came to rest, tossed aside like old shoes.
The lips of the sea stretched over rotten gums,
its tongue cracked, lay speechless on a dusty sea floor.
The Aral Sea shrunk to a dirty stain miles off;
all to make your cotton socks, Joe, to cover your cloven hoof!
Pretty cotton socks, warmer than a pool of blood.
Local children play for one day before they die.
An old man stands before his cottage, stares at the desert.
Salt eats away at the town. Folk are free to leave but there's
nowhere to go. Central Asia's largest inland sea,
and whole civilizations camped here.
© Stephen Oliver
I am a shaggy Skye terrier
With a bark like a parson on heat,
I'd brown nose a copper's wife
Or whatever it takes to get meat.
Be it the Penguin or Puffin
It makes little difference to me,
I grab them by the tail feathers
And climb up them like a tree.
I am a scavenger by trade
There's no two ways about it;
I favour those who pat my nose
And bite those who smack it.
My back yard's what I know
I run round it twice a day,
But still I cannot catch my tail
Nor chase those fleas away.
I sniff into old newspapers
(Inky smells don't get me off)
For dirty deeds in book reviews;
I take my place at the trough.
A dog's life is subservient
He answers to his master's voice;
To lick his arse on demand
Gets me the bone of my choice.
I am a shaggy Skye terrier
I bark at this and I bark at that,
Whatever side of the fence I'm on
I follow the leader of the pack.
© Stephen Oliver
THIS WELL-CREDENTIALLED WRITER WRITES:
My new book is titled, Night of Warehouses: Poems 1978-2000, HeadworX Publishers / Wellington. RRP $Aust22.00 [paperback 192 pp] ISBN
This volume covers five collections of poetry and spans two decades.
Please see HeadworX website <www.headworx.eyesis.co.nz >
for further information.
PO Box 1661
Sydney NSW 2012
Stephen Oliver's website: people.smartchat.net.au/~sao
The Health Warning
Too much of this
stuff' ll kill ya, he said
a cigarette burning a hole
right through him, heat drying
his old leather face,
what's this? he says the holden
stuck to his arse, fat legs close
to his precious girl, windscreen wipers
dragging the silence over and over and over
like his words plastered to her face,
read what you've written
he says laughing like a jackass
in the desert of his thought,
read it he says the gap in his front teeth
sucking and hissing -
it's a low alcohol poem he says
reeling himself in on his own joke
why did you write this he asks
when the car's stopped rocking,
simian hands stroking her fine blonde hair,
you wrote this? he asks again and again
trumpeting his question over the hills,
people ask if she's all right
as he picks up the car and shakes it -
course she is, she's with the world's strongest man
she wrote me a poem he says,
night laughing inside him.
Traffic shimmers and sweats
the car door slams a hand snakes
towards her but there's a space between cars
and she's taking it.
copyright C Paice 2001
Father Brian A Fitzpatrick
On Sundays Father Fitz thundered
about the evils of the English
,,,,, Be ready boys
,,,,, Defend the one true faith
the one true land
He strove to build a band of resistors
under the banner of St Pat
(the saint encompassing all saints)
We knew if we were obedient
one day our feet
would tread the turf of emerald holiness
Many forsworn came
with the echo of the piper1s lilt
and though he heard beyond them
Father was lamed by vows
Each morning,,,,,post the early mass
black capped and black frocked he strode
to break fast in the garden-moated house
that could never be his
A grace sped on its way and he rose with
expert slowness readying himself for
the morning round of parishioners
His flock were chastised on
to the narrow path
In his church
In his school
chests were punched with fervour
"through my fault
,through my fault
,,,through my most grievous fault"
for at night,,,,,as the beads of
the rosary ran through his fingers
the sorrowful mysteries gathered him in
and he slept not alone
having lured to himself
that piper's voice
It became a brave black stallion running
to him from the North with nostrils of flame Mounted
he - Donnchad of Cland Cholmain, snug within
the breastplate of the sainted Pat, drove
into the South with all power to his arm
Though wearing the faces of old Mrs O'Reilly
and that rascal Francis Corrigan, the inhabitants
of the monasteries of Clonard and Durrow rose
armed in gratitude for this deliverance
joyously feting their holy King
and determined to follow
until the last drop of blood was spent
Giving more than all
so their king could stand tall at Tara
Even before the old King
Brian Antony Fitzpatrick raised
in the Great South Land to
bear the cross of alienation
Chosen before reaching
full stature he give all
with long life Father Fitz kept
faithful ,,,,, daily practicing
the infidelity of the heart
Sixty Years Celebrating
All those Masses
,,,,, All those confessions
had added weight
,,,,, to his words
driven them further
,,,,, and further from each other
Sermons stretched,,,,,beyond the outer limits
And when to the twinkle of consecration bells
he raised,,,,,and held
the host high
on dimpled knees
on aching knees
even rumbling guts
awed to silence
in the sure and certain knowledge
one Sunday,,,,,this bread
would lift our Father
The Mile High City
On a grey day, Denver is not a pretty city.
Sprawling across the plain
a slow, monotonous drawl
with plenty of time and space to occupy,
the city goes about its business,
unadorned and matter of fact
as any cowpoke.
On a sunny day Denver is transformed.
Still unrelentingly big, open, flat
but shimmering and bright as any bit of Outback
and now you see that the city's crown,
the snow capped Rockies -
etched westward in the high, thin air -
were always there.
Tethered to a chubby wrist,
Wide blue eyes contemplate
This helium foil wonder
Floating around a blond haloed head:
Close, silent, serene
As a guardian angel.
across my toneless life
finding that place
where colour pulses
where sweet pain drowns
And when your poignant notes
hold their teasing breath
my needs weep
in the luring depths
of your dark spaces
as if you play
at the bottom
of a whirlpooled sea.
I rise up
up from your depths
like a coral-spawn melody
shadows and shafts of ivory
sunlight. Over and over
again your rhythms sway
the scales of my emotions
from ever returning
to the ebb
and froth of shallows.
(c) Copyright Autumn 1997 - Jan Price
A woman who's never been to the Washington Zoo
(after Randall Jarrell)
Last weekend you were in Kaikoura
looking at the sea, eating crayfish:
that's how I think of you sometimes -
a glass of wine at hand, the easy
conversation of acquaintances & friends.
But it could have been Victoria
Vancouver, somwhere in Jamaica
or Barbadoes, Venice - Vanuatu.
Our bodies yearn for all the things
bodies yearn for - time & certainty -
what happened in the past
what could happen in the future:
that loving - 'violet soft' - & the kissing.
Ah yes, the kissing! as tender
as sea anemonies lightly closing
on lips and fingers, surprised perhaps
at such caressing - the delicate intrusion.
And the seals, the seals barking
in the zoo, saris from the embassy
concealing what's strange & beautiful
or lies somewhere in a dark wood
waiting for the unexpected:
clouds lifting, the moon rising.
a familiar human face & the words,
those words - change me, change me.
The Night before Christmas
(After Randall Jarrell)
The blue & white of clouds, of sky,
the green of grass & willows -
although of course there's usually
not much grass under willows . . .
It ought to be a quiet place with
the river redolent as in fairy tales,
redolent of so many things: the splintered
fragments of half-forgotten dreams,
the night before the night before Christmas
asJarrell said, would have said, actually said,
& the days, all those days after the night
before the night . . .
Not that it matters - that nothing's silent,
nothing's still. The noise of course,
the noise is principally not there
under the willows but in the head:
a clamour of voices, the perpetual sound
of people talking, each somehow striving
to be heard above the rest, to be heard
& understood - so many of them,
so many before & after the night before
the night after . . .
your stockings lying under the the window
when they should be over the fireplace.
A tinsel twist of lights & coloured paper
drifts round the room & under the willows,
They're becoming - the lights & coloured paper,
the drifts of tinsel - they're becoming something
they're not: the thousand & one nights
of Scheherazade - becoming the fabled hare
& tortoise, a wily fox waiting for the lights
to go out in the farmhouse . . .
It's the night before the night before Christmas
& this is a quiet place - the willows & the river
redolent as they always are in fables -
in fairy tales . . .
(Alistair Paterson is editor of POETRY NEW ZEALAND<www.geocities.com/poetrynz>)
An untitled sequence, part of something longer
he was the disturbance
with his reassuring words.
diabolus in musica,
and she knew the devil in him
when he stroked her thighs and higher
to the rhythm of the Requiem.
A stolen warmth,
sleight-of-hand at the sacrifice
and a separation
for other rites.
The myth conspires
to repeat itself,
and the martyr,
too long a simple witness,
prepares his part.
the ur-nymph, blond in her orisons,
adolescent love under theatre lights.
he cast himself as devil and martyr,
In the middle distance
a child with a picture Bible
passed the blond Christ,
remembered the charismatic devil.
Sometime was a story
of operations where the doctor lost the patient
and the patient lost herself.
Dying without release,
self turned to electrical confusion,
not falling into nothing or Bardo
but a hum of streetlights aching in rain.
Sometime was a story
So it shaped different loves,
pulled on the devil mask
and ran through the formal ballroom.
It found its likeness
in martyrs, Dionysus, devil.
It dreamed itself a victim
and seemed never to begin.
It made the shy boy
swear in front of the principal.
Too simple for words
it may have been choice
or sentience. It followed
from no reasons
and whatever was said of it
was "so to speak".
Too simple for words,
though it draws garish images around it.
First flatness and mechanism, pre-born.
Then its vehicle wakes,
or finds faith,
or is made from fire or lightning.
And it hesitates,
wondering whether to follow
the shapes it grew from
or move off alone.
Its hesitation founds tribunals
where the fire is asked to bow to Adam,
where the martyr is presented to the idols,
where the official questions the quiet, barefoot stranger.
An Ode to Strong Women
(Written on the occasion of New Zealand Poetry Day,
20 July 2001, with apologies to John Keats)
I know not what Superwomen I may yet meet,
Nor what great victories they may recount,
What aborted innocents lie at their feet,
What marginalised ex-fathers their children count;
What boys with ADD have female teachers,
What dull Ms-achievements the media trumpet,
Why blatant untruths the Law not impeaches,
Why a mere male man ranks less than a strumpet.
So -- long may the party last!
Long may the Sisterhood cast
Its fictional truths and ignore the stenches,
'Till the ghosts of reality arise from the trenches!
Newcastle Poetry Prize Announcement of Winners
In the Open Section prize money of $8,000 has been
divided between three poems. The winners are:
1. Fugue, or a Possible Poem by Emma Jones
2. A Jetty Completely Surrounded by John Watson
3. Song to the Moon by Jo Gardiner
In the New Media Section the prize money of $2000 has
been divided between two entries. The winners are:
1. Rictus Usage by Meg Breeze
2. Central Australia by Jayne Keane
The entry Evolution by Jane Fenton-Keane received a high commendation while Excess Pixels by Ted Nielsen, Flash Buddha by Horst Kornberger and Flash Cards by Angela Cockburn all received commendations.
For more information please call Rob Dilley,
Coordinator on 02 49611696. 9.30 - 5.30 Tuesday to Friday.
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