Ygdrasil: A Journal of the Poetic Arts -- March 2002

YGDRASIL: A Journal of the Poetic Arts

April 2002

Editor: Klaus J. Gerken
Production Editor: Pedro Sena
European Editor: Moshe Benarroch
Contributing Editors: Martin Zurla; Rita Stilli; Michael Collings; Jack R. Wesdorp

ISSN 1480-6401





      Rubies and diamonds
      Mica 1
      Obsidian 1 
      Obsidian 2
      Mica 2
      Black sapphires
      Black basalt
      Black gneiss
      Obsidian 3
      Blue glass
      Salt 1
      Silt 1
      Salt 2
      Blue opal
      Silt 2


      Heather Ferguson



   On a grey spring morning, I sit before my computer pondering Klaus'
   request for an introduction. What could I say that would add to my work?
   But excuses will not do.

   When I write, I'm out to play with images - to create and explore a group
   of interconnected images couched in harmonious language. I have no
   predetermined topic or agenda. What does a poem mean? Don't know. Don't
   care either. My work is closer to abstract art than writing.

   That said, I still seek clarity, precision and intensity - but at the level
   of the image only. I remain supremely and serenely confident that, as long
   as I respect the images that arise, the result will ring true. Which is
   enough to serve my purpose.

   Heather Ferguson

THE LAPIDARY by HEATHER FERGUSON Rubies and diamonds ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Amid old-world charm and leather-bound books, port catches the light. My fingers redden through cut crystal, my hands are quick with impermanence. Drunkenness delayed a beat, lingering over a slight acidity. Look into the glass rim, the ruby waters. A whole menagerie; but I remember best the manta rays and bats, their powerful wings, hunters fading and forming in my hand. Invisible shrieks; distance measured by ear. Death, perhaps, by lightning. . . . But diamonds are different: I fall into fractals, adoring the sweet multiplicity of light, the constantly shifting planes and the patterns that always come full circle. Reassured that nothing has changed.
Bloodstones ~~~~~~~~~~~ And the sea suddenly froze! In a split second, in green amber, the coral profusion was fixed with postcard precision. A diver riveted to a current. Whales were beached in mid-ocean, cormorants smashed into solid green. Metallic cries splintered the verdant crystal, veins of rust infiltrated the silence.
Pearls ~~~~~~ Layered desire. Rings spreading out through petrified stone, the patient budding of stalagmites. Flesh nourishing the iridescent growth. I think about the fine powder the drill cast off, biting into these tears, and the hands that knotted these loves together. Warm now against my breast. Rosary, tally of pain. Knotted rope ladder hanging in the void. Both demand an absolute act of faith. Contrition unknown in these parts.
Gravel ~~~~~~ Bare feet on gravel. Each step is a prayer. See how the pebbles support the body, see how the measure releases the mind. The moon sweeps a shadow across a sundial. I pace the formal garden paths. Hollyhocks tower above me, cedars loom by the walls. A chipmunk rustles through leaves. Weight of peonies. At the heart of the garden, quadrants spin around a fountain. Ursa Major: I plunge my hands in the fountain. Ursa Minor: I cup my hands in the pool. At the heart of the garden, I take the quarter moon in my hands, point the gleaming sextant at the stars.
Amber ~~~~~ Dimestore necklace, cheap manufacture, shards devoid of memory. Asian hands move in rhythm, fade from mind. The pendant swings slightly as a shopper leaves. Time curls up in shade and sleeps. I dream an insect, sink the fragile form in amber. Strident calls resound as summer ends. With insect eggs and reindeer blood, alliances commence. Bone and wing: codes commingle in congealed light. Resin drips from my wounds. The golden blood calls bees and birds to witness. A throng tumbles into the deepening pool. I compress centuries into the ark. I slip the moment into your hand, curl up beside you, wait for time to start.
Mica 1 ~~~~~~ Toxicity hardens in brittle layers. I split them off, multiply my vistas on the world. I see now through the many-faceted eyes of insects. Discarded flakes bond and flutter off, great moths venomous with their birthright. Colourless blood, signals coded in scent. Creations more dangerous than hawks or peregrines. And all the while, that distant lullaby.
Jade ~~~~ After dark the jade ocean is pliant and supine, for night is violent. The nocturnal fury seeks a semi-permanent form, a record of its cries that shifts with the phases of the moon. Wavering lines of foam move across the waters. The whales sing in evolving dialects. The houses of the zodiac regress. Travellers embarking at these hours never reach their destination. Some are lost at sea; others beach their keels in prehistoric times. Messages in bottles bob about for centuries.
Asbestos ~~~~~~~~ Walls falling sheer into a moat, gun-metal grey in the early hours. My habitation is shredding away, fibres of stone lifting off like strands of muscle, invisible and noxious. The thinning walls buckle and fold. Naked now in pearly light, I harvest the loose fluff from shrubs, spin a coarse thread, weave with bleeding hands. Form a taut skin: eggshell igloo, moat turning fast to swamp, bog, tundra. I drown in arctic flowers and 24-hour light.
Amethysts ~~~~~~~~~ Stony womb, hollow egg, unbreakable bubble. Black hole holding in the flash of gemstone. Richness concealed under smooth rock, nestled in my hand, a seamless refusal no warmth can hatch. Love implodes; Bacchus is denied.
Obsidian 1 ~~~~~~~~~~ Night fades in and out from behind high noon. Crocodile teeth slash the insubstantial surfaces of seen things. Night reveals itself, revels in itself, splashes rain over the darkness like a largesse. And day is a guest living on borrowed time. Waves of colour pulse through the transparent skin of objects: purple oranges shade into green. We savour chameleon melons and kiwi fruit. Scarlet lace curtains flutter in the winter wind, for the seasons have slipped several notches. I gather silvery grapes, redolent of February stars, with their fine bloom of frost. The sticky sweetness fermenting on our tongues. Drinking in the kaleidoscope. But all the while I longed to tear the flimsy curtain off the glistening, reptilian sky.
Lava ~~~~ for Jon Simon I wear a flaming necklace, echoes of tribal strife. Black glass trickles from my eyes. I speak in tongues, struggle against the sulphurous air, words fluttering down confused and light. Falling leaves pile high. Bonfires settle into ash under a night sky. I plunge my hands in the live coals. I wonder at the coolness of this fire, the glow that brightens under my breath, the redness spreading through my wrists. Lava flows in my veins. I feel the molten stream reach the heart. I turn to face the chill autumn wind, the flood of scarlet leaves.
Obsidian 2 ~~~~~~~~~~ Knife edge at night's edge: I plunge a dagger of ice in my heart. A wound long expected; I had laid plans in the Pleistocene. The ice melts, ancient narcotic, drifts out through my breath. I enter a new and placid country where people move with unstudied grace. I offer parabolic mirrors, paper. The stars signal back. A dictionary writes itself in invisible ink. I watch with complete understanding. I compose a national anthem backwards, achieve thereby a certain symmetry. Number systems evolve. Geometric progressions alter my living arrangements. I realign myself with the north. Lines of magnetic force etch themselves in the rocks, in the bones of my skull.
Mica 2 ~~~~~~ A bomb blast in the east end of town. Snow drifts down like soot. Broken windows, black frost. Skid marks, a smear of blood on pavement. The scene wavers. I slide into sleep, step through the watery mirror. Distant voices: someone dips an infant's head in a font, stained glass shatters overhead. Dying salmon flounder in a spawning stream. Silver scales on a rock. Sunset stains the riffles. I scoop up the icy current, splash my face, drink in the dream.
Moonstones ~~~~~~~~~~ Spring breakup. The river sheds its skin, tenses its glistening length. The heavens regain their summer quarters, reclaim fluidity, aspire to motion. Again and again I cup the moon, run it through my fingers like sand, splash my thighs, drink the cold and wavering truth. Fish nose the brilliant lure, accept the slow minuet.
Black sapphires ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The horizon's final edge as it sweeps into night. Nightshade and hemlock, o sisters, I sought you. I wear death in a silver setting, I enter love. A compact sealed with ebony fire, writ on the flaming void. Fever returns as it must. And the new moon casts an imperceptible blessing on my longing.
Black basalt ~~~~~~~~~~~~ Black water at dawn. The sphinx floats on a mirage. Sky intercedes between earth and stone. The cat rests on a deep reflecting pool. Dawn stains her flanks. The sky darkens as noon approaches. Lightning slashes a cloudless sky. The earth turns slowly upside down. The sphinx stretches, leaps into the arms of a crescent moon, roars at the black sun, swats the stars.
Dust ~~~~ Voiceless earth; no sea, no wind to compress thought into solid rock. I dismissed time to a parallel world. I slept in curved space, and walked (though rarely) along a m”bius strip. I obeyed an antique geometry, slow as the pulse that beats in the winter den. But now I must press my heart, my bones, into the thickening grey. And decide,my fossil shall look thus and so, and stamp my quickening likeness into the unformed earth.
Black gneiss ~~~~~~~~~~~~ The sun fuses black sand into a lens, black diamonds glitter on my bodice, I smash an empty wine glass. Water runs up a magnetic hill. Through tears I recall the hourglass as it stood before your departure. I rub my cheek against the gneiss. Blood springs from claw marks. Pictographs bridge absence, inscribe a scarlet letter from home.
Sand ~~~~ Crumbling highlands nourish this buffer zone. Rivulets carry loose soil from the headland. I smell wet rock, watch sandstone stain the river mouth. A ceaseless erosion: my thoughts drift, spread out in drowsy convolutions. Wave patterns line the beach. Seedlings mark high tide, form a thin defence. My hair sprouts rootlets, white growing tips that sink in sand, define new territory, reclaim land. Yet I still long to wrap the watery coverlet around me, caress of kelp and sea otters. Memories of breathing. In the dark, abalones apply layer after layer and, somewhere in the depths, oysters gape wide, dream of scarlet pearls.
Granite ~~~~~~~ On this great divide, the streams flow equally east and west. I bathe my feet in blood at dawn and splash my thighs at dusk. The sun vaults over me. My shadow swings around me. I tear black pearls from my neck. My tears flow equally east and west. I choose insignia, don fatigues, assume my reptilian self. The sun halts at its zenith. A condor looses a pinion. I grasp the feather, gasp for breath in the thin air. The fault line shudders, and east wrenches away from west. Astride the ridge, I hug the widening wedge of rock between my thighs.
Ivory ~~~~~ Under the ice lies a schooner. Her history flickers in her like a flame. Journals, logs and diaries. On old maps I scribble poems of love. My hand brushes aside the snow, casts words like bones on the beaches. Ambergris and lampblack. Light from an ivory vessel flickers over the desk. On a barren island, Franklin lies dying. Dreams of his homeward journey glow under the ice. Clouds of krill catch the light. A narwhal brushes the bowsprit. Silent phosphorus symphonies. And Franklin's feverish hands plunge in fire. His frame shudders and heaves. Flames engulf my cluttered desk, catch the oily maps. Pools of fragrance overcome me, the beaches burn as in the beginning, Franklin's hands seize the tiller, and blazing night accedes to lasting day.
Obsidian 3 ~~~~~~~~~~ I hold a concave mirror in my hand. I turn its obsidian surface and the lines of my body distort. I flow amoeba-like over the polished glass. My breath beads my reflection. I live below this thin transparent film. I revisit prehistoric times. My words return garbled, inverted, telling tales of life before my birth. I focus light white-hot onto my palm. Smoke drifts up from my flesh. Celestial receiver: I burst into flame. The pain exists in another dimension. Static heard far below on earth. The zodiac wheels overhead. Silent calculations. Positions of birth and rebirth.
Sandstone ~~~~~~~~~ I quarry rock soft as butter. Tawny record of ancient pressures, glaciers and shorelines. Purple striation where seedlings flourished for a season. I note the spoor of extinct creatures, the absence of fossils. Waystations and watering holes. Fertile and uninhabitable borderlands. I shape the crumbly rock. Coarse features, unnameable face.
Blue glass ~~~~~~~~~~ for Juan O'Neill The world floats in the void, weightless and perfect. It curves around its inner pull. A changeable jewel, half dark, half lit, it spins. Low hum of ecstatic devotions. A cat's eyes glow green in morning light. The mother of god stands humble in her sky-blue cloak. Light pours into her outstretched arms. Faint radiance and vortex. Echo of trickling water. A drop of rain clings to a screen door. A fine morning after the shower, and bullfrogs sound in the pond out back. Rays of sun intersect my line of sight. Unstable matrix, love caught in a spider web. Framework of the world. The eyes of my cat glow green, seem wise. Light streams through stained glass. Mary bows her head. All unaware, goldfish swim in a small pool while the world pours into the outstretched arms. Drops of rain shine in the web.
Turquoise ~~~~~~~~~ The turquoise horizon shades into blue. The indigo dome seeps away and sound sinks out of view. Memories of melodies, wisps of pink. Nightshade opens its petals. A muffled world, a stone tossed into a night pond. Spreading rings of phosphorus. My thoughts drift in the velvety dark. A cradle sways from a branch as squirrels leap and scramble. Moses adrift on the waters. I sit at the foot of a hemlock. Nocturnal creatures brush against me, a fellowship of touch. Their trails weave an invisible mesh. I take the humming currents in my hand. Fireflies land on my knee. Light without heat. Erratic points of light. A weak and interrupted code. Dawn is still several years away.
Mud ~~~ Spring run-off: the flood in frenzy: winter's burden sloughed off. I stretch out on the bank to watch. Mud crusts my clothes and skin. Insects crawl on my legs and arms, buzz noisily around. Unseasonable heat. I have come to release precious things: a necklace, a pen, a doll. I throw them into the foam and fury, watch them speed away. A glimpse of colour bobs and is gone. My face is wet with spray. I cannot remember my name. The season whirls about me. I think about the route home.
Pumice ~~~~~~ Insects bore through my skin. Painlessly my flesh crumbles away. In this bloodless night my hands swing back and forth, bare branches marking night's breathing. My heart peers through bone bars, ribs opening into the dark. The harvest's all in, all tallies made, tithes paid. As a fine drizzle settles down, I think of summer: in the furnace blast straining to roundness, blush of peach, odour of apple, Queen Anne's lace among the thistles. Night gathers more closely about me. Blackbirds sing in the bare branches.
Salt 1 ~~~~~~ The sun tarries here on the salt flat, squats down, settles in for a stay. My body wavers like a mirage, fades into the air. The sky inhabits me like a dream. Distant hills are visible through my breast. Movement ceases. I breathe through a slow infusion of light. I take salt from the ground, apply it to my skin. Memories flare and turn to ash. Tears well up. Sweat rolls down my neck. Light heavy as oceans presses me to the earth.
Silt 1 ~~~~~~ I lay down layer after layer, extend filtered thought. Rings of a tree accumulate their record. Time pulses outward, acquires substance. River-born, I run my hands through my hair in the dust-choked prairie evening. I accept this hazy premonition of night. I scratch a note in my diary. My reveries spread outward. I note the passage of fish and birds through my territory: a welcome mingling of alien voicings. Cadence is all. Birds plunge through the muddy waters, flying fish gasp in air. My pen whispers like a reed in the calm evening.
Salt 2 ~~~~~~ I stand alone on coastal dunes, attentive to the night. My hair is caked with salt. Faint words are blowing over me, briny breathing scouring the sands, crusting me over. A thin layer of syllables, forgotten murmurs, glittering crystals turning me white under the moon. Salt air on my rope-cut hands, the pain that stings and heals. Rocking as to a lullaby, a shanty washed away by time. An ancient pull, memories of a buffeted vessel that touched no land. And figures floating across the deck, dissolving in fog, not known. This was before the days of charts, when we looked to the night for help.
Clay ~~~~ The river twists and builds its banks. Waterfowl weave their nests. Willows bend over the stream, lock roots in clay. I sit by the water. I bare my skin and name my body: shoulders, belly, thighs. I smooth clay over me, poke feathers in my hair. Baptism by earth, invocation of flight. I bend over the water. My reflection slides away. Body's heat and sun's heat. The mould cracks and flakes away. My body starts to crumble. I stride into the water, grey into grey. Final release of flesh into the tumbling stream.
Blue opal ~~~~~~~~~ Fire sparkles in the depths. Drowned suns shrink to naught. Whale songs declaim sagas, embroider histories, spin out melodic lines. Sonorities ride the swell. Stately men-of-war pulse by. Dolphins play with the glowing globes, nose them to the surface. Bubbles of light break the surface, puncture night. I stand on the shore and weep. Foam rises and falls at my feet.
Silt 2 ~~~~~~ The sun never sets. The moon has disappeared. My tears fall, blue, yellow and green. Rain in the dry season. Light through a filter of leaves. Around the world, rivers release their burden of silt. I seek true baptism. Rain without end. The sun passes over the earth. Watery dreamcatchers spread their nets. I long to turn and serve the moon, accept her cloak of darkness as my own.
Chalk ~~~~~ I scrape chalk across the night sky. Stern calligraphy: figures twirl, play out their grave discord. Wail of mourning women, keening their knowledge of passages, celebrating lessons clawed from frozen ground. My fingernails scratch closed tombs, I explore inversions of time. I seek my centre in the winter solstice, numb cradle slung between poles of light. I welcome the arctic darkness into my soul. It radiates blackly forth. Colours leach from the northern lights. Movement is all. I have never slept my fill.
Labradorite ~~~~~~~~~~~ Labradorite: a grey mineral with blue, green, yellow or pink sheens, crisscrossed with dark striations. Helps the wearer apply insights learned from the subconscious. Assists people in transition. Good for balance. . . . I stand on a plain rimmed with hills. Afternoon fills the basin with emerald air. The smell of humus under grasses, summer flowers, tangled roots. The erratic and compulsive movements of insects. Thick buzzing. Ants forage everywhere. And everywhere a humming, the purr of great cats. Electric fur, the nervous swishing of tails. Storm clouds gather. Noah has built an ark. Planks curve out from the keel, two great hands cupped together, opening skyward. A prayer in wood and nails towering over the grasses. Noah summons the animals. There come: sandpipers that write haiku on shorelines astronomer owls antelope that drum across savannahs monkish bears reclusive and fastidious snow leopards The world seen in a sequence of negatives. Shapes flatten to celluloid films, easily distorted. Time buckles. Black lighting crisscrosses the emerald sky. A gathering of mammals, birds and reptiles. The steady pressure of currents of flesh. Jerky movements in flickering light. A fierce sky, inaudible thunder. Vibrations announce wildebeest approaching from afar. Everywhere a low whirring, an archival film telling a story of origin. Creatures tramp up the gangplank and through the great door. Now a patter, the first drops. They slide down my astonished cheeks, splash into a deepening pool. Inexorable and transparent accumulations. The low humming intensifies, the downpour begins in earnest. I take my place on board, lean over a railing. Noah calls out. There come: small boulders bobbing like corks uprooted trees cartwheeling end over end And now in deepening water about the curved planks there gather: walruses that have lost their way storm petrels and albatrosses blown off course tunas and hammerheads manatees with a fondness for boats belugas and right whales As the water rises, the ship creaks and shifts. It will sail without canvas from nowhere to nowhere, wander by night on a foam-streaked ocean, all landmarks submerged. Erratic and compulsive searching for a dawn irrefutable as land. Night falls on a rising lake rimmed with hills. The great vessel shudders and floats free.
All poems copyright (c) 2002 Heather Ferguson



   Some of these texts have appeared in Stanzas, Bywords, XPress, Alter Vox,
   Carpe Diem and ARC.

   Heather Ferguson

   A writer, editor and translator by trade, Heather co-directed Ottawa's TREE
   Reading Series from 1985 to 1990.  Her poetry was anthologized in Symbiosis
   and Sounds New, and appeared in Alter Vox, Bywords, Stanzas, XPress, Carpe
   Diem and ARC. She is the author of A Mouse in a Top Hat (chapbook).  
   She produced three volumes of poetry through her publishing house, Agawa Press. More 
   recently, she has taken on the duties of assistant webmaster for www.e-sasquatch.ca. 
   Heather lives and works in Ottawa, Canada.


A New Age: The Centipede Network Of Artists, Poets, & Writers
An Informational Journey Into A Creative Echonet [9310]
(C) CopyRight "I Write, Therefore, I Develop" By Paul Lauda

       Welcome to Newsgroup alt.centipede. Established 
       just for writers, poets, artists, and anyone who is creative. A 
       place for anyone to participate in, to share their poems, and 
       learn from all.  A place to share *your* dreams, and philosophies. 
       Even a chance to be published in a magazine.

       The original Centipede Network was created on May 16, 1993. 
       Created because there were no other networks dedicated to such 
       an audience, and with the help of Klaus Gerken, Centipede soon 
       started to grow, and become active on many world-wide Bulletin 
       Board Systems.

       We consider Centipede to be a Public Network; however, its a
       specialized network, dealing with any type of creative thinking.
       Therefore, that makes us something quite exotic, since most nets
       are very general and have various topics, not of interest to a
       writer--which is where Centipede steps in! No more fuss. A writer
       can now access, without phasing out any more conferences, since 
       the whole net pertains to the writer's interests. This means 
       that Centipede has all the active topics that any creative 
       user seeks. And if we don't, then one shall be created.

       Feel free to drop by and take a look at newsgroup alt.centipede

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  . REMEMBERY: EPYLLION IN ANAMNESIS (1996), poems by Michael R. Collings

  . DYNASTY (1968), Poems by Klaus J. Gerken
  . THE WIZARD EXPLODED SONGBOOK (1969), songs by KJ Gerken
  . STREETS (1971), Poems by Klaus J. Gerken
  . BLOODLETTING (1972) poems by Klaus J. Gerken
  . ACTS (1972) a novel by Klaus J. Gerken
  . RITES (1974), a novel by Klaus J. Gerken
  . FULL BLACK Q (1975), a poem by KJ Gerken
  . ONE NEW FLASH OF LIGHT (1976), a play by KJ Gerken
  . THE BLACKED-OUT MIRROR (1979), a poem by Klaus J. Gerken
  . JOURNEY (1981), a poem by Klaus J. Gerken
  . LADIES (1983), a poem by Klaus J. Gerken
  . FRAGMENTS OF A BRIEF ENCOUNTER (1984), poems by KJ Gerken
  . THE BREAKING OF DESIRE (1986), poems by KJ Gerken
  . FURTHER SONGS (1986), songs by KJ Gerken
  . POEMS OF DESTRUCTION (1988), poems by KJ Gerken
  . THE AFFLICTED (1991), a poem by KJ Gerken
  . DIAMOND DOGS (1992), poems by KJ Gerken
  . KILLING FIELD (1992), a poem by KJ Gerken
  . BARDO (1994-1995), a poem by Klaus J. Gerken
  . FURTHER EVIDENCES (1995-1996) Poems by Klaus J. Gerken
  . CALIBAN'S ESCAPE AND OTHER POEMS (1996), by Klaus J. Gerken 
  . CALIBAN'S DREAM (1996-1997), a poem by Klaus J. Gerken
  . THE LAST OLD MAN (1997), a novel by Klaus J. Gerken
  . WILL I EVER REMEMBER YOU? (1997), poems by Klaus J. Gerken
  . SONGS FOR THE LEGION (1998), song-poems by Klaus J. Gerken
  . REALITY OR DREAM? (1998), poems by Klaus J. Gerken
  . APRIL VIOLATIONS (1998), poems by Klaus J. Gerken
  . THE VOICE OF HUNGER (1998), a poem by Klaus J. Gerken

  . SHACKLED TO THE STONE, by Albrecht Haushofer - translated by JR Wesdorp

  . MZ-DMZ (1988), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . DARK SIDE (1991), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . STEEL REIGNS & STILL RAINS (1993), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . BLATANT VANITY (1993), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . ALIENATION OF AFFECTION (1993), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . LIVING LIFE AT FACE VALUE (1993), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . HATRED BLURRED (1993), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . CHOKING ON THE ASHES OF A RUNAWAY (1993), ramblings by I. Koshevoy
  . BORROWED FEELINGS BUYING TIME (1993), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . HARD ACT TO SWALLOW (1994), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . HALL OF MIRRORS (1994), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . ARTIFICIAL BUOYANCY (1994), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy

  . THE POETRY OF PEDRO SENA, poems by Pedro Sena
  . THE FILM REVIEWS, by Pedro Sena
  . THE SHORT STORIES, by Pedro Sena
  . INCANTATIONS, by Pedro Sena

  . POEMS (1970), poems by Franz Zorn

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