THE DEMON HAS SPILLED THE WINE: HALLOWEEN POEM

Image result for walled garden in painting

The demon has spilled the wine

In the young girl’s dream.

Blood, the passionate drink,

Has been thrown on the garden, stalled,

And finance took you up in its invisible arms,

So you would be invisible.

I am out of my league, trying to write on this.

I know poems. A tasteful illumination of an eager kiss.

What do I know of children, and their dreams?

Demon rhetoric, and its schemes?

And all I know of blood

Is the horror when it comes in a flood.

And I have seen gardens, walled,

And felt regrets. I should have called.

My girlfriend was a nice introvert. I should have let myself in,

When outside, finance was cavorting with sin.

 

 

IF I COULD TELL YOU SECRETLY I LOVE YOU MADLY

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If I could tell you, secretly, I love you madly,

Would you accept me gladly?

Because there is no other way but secretly

I can hold you close to me

And tell you what I want to tell:

The secret, heaven; the reason for the secrecy, hell,

The heaven, a love that’s happy, for no one’s ears but ours;

A whispered love that’s whispered, beneath the lovely stars,

A love with no announcement, a love without a view;

A love with me secretly slipping, like poetry, into you.

A love behind a railing, and the moonlight sliding

Along the railing, sliding and sailing and gliding

On the lake, the moonlight’s silver poison coloring a brook,

And everything falling, a secret, leafy, candlelight of a nook

Catching us, who never a love like this forsook.

Look for my sign; I will make it only for you.

The sign: T Expect it in the plainest of places.

Keep your beautiful eyes out for my clue,

You, my moon, fairest of all the faces.

 

 

 

WHEN THE FIRST COLD OCTOBER WINDS

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When the first, cold, October winds
Blow umbrellas apart,
And leaves fall, and my miserable heart,
Becomes more miserable, as it finds
Broken avenues filled with rain,
Ushering in winter’s promise of still more pain,
I want to hibernate. I tell my friends:
Bury me, until April rises in the valley where winter ends,
Kissing delicately with dreaming rains the cool flower beds.
Now, you could wake me for Thanksgiving’s feast,
Or Christmas eve, or Christmas day, at least,
When holy morning in darkness slowly spreads.
But no. The whole, dark, season let me sleep.
Unless you hear from her. Then drag me from the worms that creep.

 

JEALOUSY

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Jealousy is my Achilles heel.
And you have brought me low since you found out how I feel.

The greater the man, the more jealous they are.
Jealousy connects the earth to the gleaming star.

If you admire someone inferior to me
The ratio of my pain is my superiority.

And this is the cross that I must hold:
To see you love bronze, when I am gold.

Now here is the prophecy, and the great soul’s curse,
To sink below the bad, to be even worse.

So, if you cannot love great poetry.
Go love a dog.  Leave me.

 

 

AESTHETIC DREAM

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There is no in between:

You are a misanthrope,

Pleased by life’s aesthetic dream,

Or, you put your hope

In vehicles, lots of talk, a favorite team.

Who I am, I have no doubt.

Yesterday evening, as I walked about,

I felt paradise in the misty, quiet, warm, autumnal air,

Loved the solemn way the small, red and yellow leaves blew around,

And cursed people, laughed at them, and didn’t care

If perhaps they heard me; cursed some creep’s motorcycle sound

That broke feverishly loud against the night,

As people in bad taste outfits walked around,

Poorly shaped, chattering, ugly, oblivious to my plight:

Why can’t I find a sensitive soul like me?

A deep, beautiful soul to love? Without fanfare? With a song, or tea?

Ah! The million things we have to do to make things right!

Breath for the sick, poems of love, sleep that continues in the long, long night.

 

 

 

 

THE BEST SONGS INVOKE THE MOON

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The best songs invoke the moon:

Moonlight Sonata. Clair de Lune.

The best poems? Ode to a Nightingale.

The Raven. A bird in the dark cannot fail.

See where the Skylark flies?

The best poems hide birds in their skies.

In the prison, the guilty has nothing to say.

“Prison is everything,” I heard a prosecutor say.

Around my moon the mist is singing

To memory, and memory, to the fleeing world,

Brings the only thing worth bringing:

Memory. Before the world runs away.

“Memory is everything,” I heard a songwriter say.

 

SEXUAL ELEGANCE

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Let us take our jackets off and dance,

In a video, which portrays sexual elegance.

You can almost smell the perfume, but no.

Perfumes of every kind will have to go.

Music is the master. The wan arpeggio.

The dancers are but half aware

There is a camera there.

They do not laugh. They half-smile.

And, then, oh, perhaps, they do laugh, after a while.

The tempo of the piece is not too slow.

The eye of the audience should not linger long

On breasts thrusting out, or the moving parts below;

The key to elegance is a skimming, and an ease

Of viewing. Show what must be shown. Don’t tease

The viewer with too much covering up of flesh

That wants to get out, but is hidden.

Show a flash of breast, or two. Don’t make things too forbidden,

Because elegance is neither stuffy nor risqué.

It whispers regrets. And, then, kisses them quietly away.

 

 

 

 

HOW BEAUTIFUL YOU ARE

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How beautiful you are

Beneath this beautiful star,

Beneath this fateful sky,

Which turned, and made you cry.

Priestess! how well you listen!

Beneath these stars, which glisten,

In the valley of the sky,

Which changed, and almost made you die.

I loved this world—but loved you too late.

How well I focus now

On you.  I wonder. I wonder how

Your fate is my fate.

It is too dark not to see.

You fly directly down

To love me—with a frown.

 

ZOMBIES

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In the third debate, Hillary Clinton promised she would not increase America’s national debt by “one penny.”

Under Obama, the national debt increased from 10 to 20 trillion dollars.

Hillary has promised not to raise taxes on the middle class.

Where’s her tax revenue coming from, then, to pay down the debt?

We know she’s in with Wall Street, so she certainly won’t add taxes to the rich.  She won’t bite the hand that feeds her.  That’s not her style.  She certainly never bit the husband who fed her.

With America’s growth rate currently at 1%, there is no way the debt does not go up astronomically under Hillary.

So her claim that she will not increase the national debt by “one penny” is a complete lie.   Fact-check, please!

So what is she going to do?  She will “invest” in “jobs…” or something.  She says she will invest in women and green jobs (though Stein and Bernie supporters doubt this) and even so, this has little to do with the hard economics upon which everything else rests. Hillary will spend a lot, and continue the current U.S. policy of crushing and destabilizing the Middle East, and the debt will increase.

Maybe one question everyone should be asking: If the debt increases to 40 trillion, does it matter?

But no one talks about that.  Because that would involve thinking.  And Zombies don’t think.  “I-will-not-increase-the-debt-by-one-penny.”  That’s better. That’s how you talk to zombies.

The elimination of Glass/Steagall (which separated investment from retail banking) by Bill Clinton and the support by congressman Barney Frank (D) of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac led to the housing crash; yet somehow Hillary manages to blame the debt of 20 trillion on Bush, because he happens to be a Republican.  This is what the Democrat Zombies do: just the blame Republicans.  The zombie army will follow, to the ends of the earth.

Trump says he will cut taxes, and Hillary’s canned response is: you’re cutting taxes on the rich! This is what the Democrats always say, ever since Reagan cut taxes, and increased tax revenues.  Zombies go berserk when they hear this. A couple of sentences can explain why tax cuts are good: but the stupid Republicans, who are also zombies, stare into space, and let the retort, “you hate the poor, and love the rich!” go unanswered.

It’s not about Republicans and Democrats.

It’s about how vile and stupid the United States has become.

The Republicans should explain it this way: it’s not tax cuts for the rich; it’s tax cuts for job creation and growth.

If you have two modestly successful corporations taxed at 50%, this will bring in far less tax revenue than if you have 10 very successful corporations taxed at 25%.  Yet, for Democrats, strangling business in the cradle by over-taxing and over-regulating (enriching the lawyer class) is good.  Because it hurts “the rich.”  So the zombies march to the unemployment lines, happy, because at least the Democrats are punishing “the rich.”

My local ABC news affiliate, after the debate, had two “experts” weigh in, so that the zombies watching the telly could quickly grasp the significance of what they just viewed, and both the Democrat and the Republican talking heads said the same thing: “Hillary won the debate. Trump said stupid things. Hillary will win the election.”  Both of them.  Like zombies.  Especially bad for Trump—said the Democrat media zombie—was Trump’s statement that he wouldn’t accept the results of the election.  But as Trump said in a speech the next day, why should he agree to accept the results of the election when there is precedence for candidates having the right to question the election results: think Gore in 2000.  It’s done all the time. The media zombie was only talking like a—zombie.

Hillary has promised to not add “one penny” to the debt.  Yes, and maybe she won’t add any CO2 to the atmosphere, either.

The winner of this election will be the one who hides their creepiness the best.

Sex not only sells, it distracts. “Hey, hey LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?” shouted at a Democrat in 1967,  has been replaced, in 2016, by “Bill Clinton is a rapist!”

I think we should just sing ’60s songs.

“In Penny Lane there is a fireman with an hourglass. And in his pocket is a portrait of the Queen He likes to keep his fire engine clean. It’s a clean machine”

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THERE HAS BEEN A LOT OF TALK

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There has been a lot of talk on equality and identity politics,
But what will always be true
Is no identity can possibly approach the presence of you.
The ego is bigger than anything.
You may like song if you don’t know how to sing,
But if singing is what you do,
No rival can ever sing better than you.
Ego is bigger than sympathy; no one is really sympathetic at all.
Go on. Be alone. Take, or do not, take this drink.
Every belief in equality will before the other, fall.
Describe your rape to your feminist friend: they secretly think,
“Was he cute? Didn’t you enjoy it at all?”
He fell in love with the love of his life but that lovely love was a fail:
I’ll pretend you raped me. And you will go to jail.
This is the horror we discover is true:
We face love alone. And this can’t matter to you.

WE HATE OURSELVES THE MOST

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We hate ourselves the most,
And love others, in despair:
Who sing to our shadow as it lies on the ground:
There, our misshapen head, here, our ungainly hair,
A warped silhouette stretched across the earth,
Which has no ease, no past, no arc, no birth,
Ourselves, but not ourselves! We hate the sound
Of the voice we own, and the mirror that looks in our eyes,
And yet they love our face, and fill our face with sighs!

I hate myself the most,
And love you, in despair:
I need to love you, the more frequently
I doubt you, and you seem not to care;
I cannot love my voice, my fate, my ghost
Who knows myself that none can see:
Myself, hiding behind paint or poetry,
I cannot love my face, my voice, my eyes,
And yet you love my face, and fill my face with sighs.

If I stop hating myself,
I will not love you.
My love, you are smarter than love.
That’s why you hate me like you do.

BECAUSE PEOPLE JUST WON’T BE QUIET

quiet-car

When you and I were together, we rarely made a sound.

We didn’t like it when others were around.

We went into the quiet car and quietly held hands.

We knew touch goes beyond what thought understands.

Understanding dies every time a sound is made,

Unless it’s music, sinking into a darkening shade

Like this aching verse, sinking, so it almost makes us afraid,

So pleasant the visit and the touch

Of our hands, that we don’t notice the noises of the train that much.

When drunk and loud passengers annoy you,

You curse them excitedly and I ask you

To lower your voice so the drunks can’t hear.

They might hear, and though I laughed, it was a genuine fear

Because you were quietly mine, not meant to mingle or fight,

Especially trapped in a train car late at night.

My arm around you was quiet, and quiet my hand,

Which played with yours, and, when I kissed you,

That was quiet, too;

Good, therefore, in a way that was easy to understand.

We sank into kissing in the quiet car

Until my stop.  And then we remembered who we were.

No. We remembered who we were not.

We got off at different stations. Character. Plot.

We each went home to a different star.

But we won’t forget the quiet of the quiet car.

In the quiet car you have to be quiet, it is true,

But now, in the middle of the kissing, I have something to say to you.

 

 

 

I THOUGHT LOVE HAD TO DO (A SCARRIET SONNET)

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I thought love had to do
With all the intricate things I found in you.
I thought love was the only time
You could be the single reason for my rhyme.
But now I find love is waiting by a door,
Saying the right thing, struggling. I don’t like it, anymore.
I thought the whole point of love was you,
The truth, looking into your eyes, mesmerizing, your eyes, mesmerizing and true.
I thought that love had to do
Nothing—but look like you,
Under me, entirely lying,
And under you, me, sighing and dying.
But if love has to be these other things,
I’ll still love you and for you my poetry sings.

I WANT THE WORLD TO KNOW

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I want the world to know

I love you. The world must know.

Knowing causes love, as love, to grow.

Love can be a secret appetite

And think itself love, but secrecy,

And all that crawls inside the night

Feeds delusion; no poetry is worth the name

Unless it bring the poet fame.

The unknown has only the unknown to blame,

The unknown is the greatest shame.

The death of the poet himself is bliss,

But the death of his poetry is hardly this.

His poems should be read and loved,

Not by springs and pools of the dove,

Where nightingales sing aloud, out of love,

But in the eyes and ears of men,

Who memorize poems, so they can be loved again.

If the world thinks you are wrong,

I’ll correct them with my song.

There are poets who celebrate drink,

And seem sensual and wise

As they write that soon tomorrow

Comes, ending happiness and sorrow,

So go ahead, and drink today,

And sacred love must hasten away.

But I will not drown myself in any set of eyes,

Loving this one at dusk, that one at sunrise;

Love is not a brief instant.

Love is not what we quickly want.

Wine can be a paradise,

But love that lasts is best; sensuality betrays

Tomorrow, and all the ways

We died in our yelping yesterdays,

Hoping for an arrow

To repel all sorrow.

The known is what we know;

And all that we have, we can have before we go,

In the understanding of the going.  Only then may we

Live in our poetry.

Girls who are socially needy

Circle around men, the lustful and greedy,

And find the hell of secrecy

And shame. When a girl is crying for help, trapped and alone,

Raped in the trivial unknown,

A secret shame which imitates death

A secret lust hides in the invisible breath

Forever. Of poetry never read. Secret life is truly dead.

After the shame, we know the truth: love is how much of love is known.

Marry in the sun. True love does not wish to be secret, or alone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BOBBY Z!

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Robert Zimmerman, aka Bob Dylan, has won the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature.

The great critic, Christopher Ricks, is happy.

But many people are objecting to Dylan’s literature Nobel because Dylan “is a musician.”

Here is Ryu Spaeth in The New Republic:

My main problem with giving Dylan the Nobel, besides the memories it invokes of playing too much Super Smash Brothers in a dorm room that reeked of stale bong water, is that he is a musician. It’s a category error. Music is an entirely different mode of expression that uses tools that are unavailable to the writer. Like, is the ache on a song like “Girl From the North County” expressed by the lyrics or the harmonica, or some combination of the two? Music is melody and rhythm and harmony, and at its best writing can achieve only one of those characteristics (rhythm). There’s a reason you always hear that Walter Pater line: “All art constantly aspires towards the condition of music.” It’s because music exists in this other sphere where form and subject are identical, where the sound of a harmonica represents nothing more than the sound of a harmonica. How can any other art compete? Dylan adds words to that sound, but the sound is a bass line, so to speak, anchoring his art.

This is all to say that “Girl From the North County” is a song, not a poem, and that Bob Dylan is a musician, and that he shouldn’t be awarded a prize that is meant to be for writing.

Ryu Spaeth has either taken too many bong hits or played too many video games.

He links Dylan to Super Smash Brothers. Why?

He uses Pater’s idea, that all art aspires to music, and the idea that “the sound of a harmonica represents nothing more than the sound of a harmonica” to dismiss words which, as everyone knows, in a song, coincide with music. Does Spaeth actually believe that simply because pure music is pure, that words used in songs are not significant as words, as literature?  Why in the world would he think this?

Spaeth might as well say that poetry is not literature.

A song lyric absolutely is literature. Why is this even an argument?

There’s a guitar in the mix. So what?

A nation’s literature will always include its folk and popular songs—songs which express everything literature expresses.

And since this is true, songs with words cannot possibly be categorized with music, for Spaeth describes music as “an entirely different mode of expression that uses tools that are unavailable to the writer.”  So where in the world should song lyrics be categorized, if not with literature?  There’s no “category error,” as Mr. Spaeth insists.

Another reason giving Dylan the Nobel is an inspired choice: American folk music is great and it, too wins with this award, since Dylan comes out of it.

And, another reason: it raises the bar for songwriting.

Not every song Zimmerman wrote is great. But again, so what? He wrote iconic songs.

Scarriet has written a great deal about the relation between song lyrics and poetry.  The One Hundred Greatest Hippie Songs of All Time.  The Top One Hundred Popular Song Lyrics That Work As Poetry.  They still get tons of hits!

Poems and songs are closer to each other than we might think, and we shouldn’t be afraid to push them closer together—even if it is more challenging to write poetry that is popular, like song, and to write songs that are good, like poetry.

If you can dance to a poem, will it fail the critical test, and only please the popular taste?

Musical poetry fell away from the critical taste in the 1920s, when craven authority usurped traditional poetry; the coup took many material forms: painting, building, film, photography, morals, and government, and smashed its fist through everything sacred, whether it was Nazi rallies, war planes, or ambitious art fraud: lurid spectacle and bad taste became the rule; manipulation, panic, and electrical communication created the sad effect of a great panic, in which the sedate and the beautiful became devalued; the screams of ecstasy and pain invaded every grove.

The new authority was so perverse in its tastes, that a reversal of good and bad occurred almost instantaneously.  Man had been an elephant, peaceful and tough-skinned, but the clamor and noise of modern life triggered a stampede, in which the elephant became highly dangerous to himself and others—“I accuse” merged with “I follow”; the elephants needed to be moved—they moved, and individuality and civility both died.

Love with a long-term focus is good; love with a short-term focus is bad—but in a stampede, everything “short-term” tends to be seen as good; and so we see how panic not only ruins everything, it makes us seek our ruin.

We seek oppression, with furious indignation and uncontrolled self-pity; we seek hunger, with the diets of religious fanatics; we seek the critical, squeezed out of all popularity, led by fake, manipulated, elite praise; and finally, we seek the popular just for its popularity, though it contains no merit—which diminishes the capacity for pleasure itself.

This is how people behave in a stampede.

This is what occurred in the 20th century: Byron and Shelley were beaten up by little men.

Poetry ought to be popular—because popularity should be poetic, not crass, and this is how great democracy thrives, not by fiat, but by subtle art; we see the reverse happened in the 20th century, as the modernists donned hair shirts and spoke against the splendid beauties of the 19th century and the past in general. Modernism became puffed up about a moment, not understanding that no moment is “modern.”  The modernists wanted love, not the infatuation of the 19th century; but infatuation is love—there is no difference, except love is infatuation that lasts, and momentary modernism was against this whole concept (lasting) altogether.

Look at the limerick—in the 19th century or the 20th century, it is still a limerick, a form which is amusing, but will quickly weary the educated taste.

Rhetoric, and even thought itself, belong to the music of language; poetry was imprisoned in image in the early 20th century; poetry of music was mistakenly associated with narrow Victorianism. And poetry as poetry died, and Man went back to grunting.

When spheres make music, but poetry does not, there’s something rotten in Denmark.  And look what happened to Denmark’s music.  Bach to Brahms was 200 years of glory.  In a mere 100 more, death metal hammers out our demise.

It is not easy to make great art, to make great music, to make great poetry. But why make these things more difficult, by confusing the spatial with the temporal?

The stampede needs to stop.

Bob Dylan winning the Nobel might help.

I heard someone complain that Dylan was a “white guy.” This doesn’t deserve a response.

Another beef against Zimmerman is to list authors considered great (in the opinion of the indignant commentator) who didn’t win—but this has nothing to do with Dylan and songwriting.

Finally, and this is heard often: this was merely a bone thrown to the Boomers, an old, failed, generation of influential losers. “Stale bong water,” as Spaeth, perhaps angling for a Nobel himself, puts it.  I recall that in the 1960s, LBJ was vilified because he bombed Vietnam—the protesters didn’t care that he was a Democrat.  Republicans and Democrats—neither one got a free pass. In today’s post-Boomer, “enlightened” atmosphere, the intellectual Left is simply the lapdog of the Democratic party—as the country sinks.

To contemplate the difference between song lyrics and poetry has endless philosophical interest.

If a poem already has a tune written for it, no matter how good it is as a stand-alone-poem, does that seal it off forever from us as a poem? Because it came into existence with its melody attached, it is forever condemned to never be a poem. Are there such things?  Poor unfortunate songs, forever exiled from poetry unfairly? And if not unfairly, can we then say true poetry will forever be the kind of thing that can never wear a melody?

Is there a realm where great songs and great poems touch but do not meet, since we know critically acclaimed poems are not songs and songs are not critically acclaimed poems?

To merely state that songs are not poetry, and therefore the Nobel Prize for Literature should not go to a songwriter, is inane.

To demonstrate how Dylan was the middle of American music: John Jacob Niles, the great folksinger born in 1892, wrote “Go Away From My Window,” a lovely and haunting ballad, which was first released in 1930.

Go away from my window
Go away from my door
Go away way way from my bedside
And bother me no more.

As the melancholy song continues, we find out “go away” is spoken by a heartbroken beloved, and one intuits this right away by the sad and beautiful melody of the song—which makes the lyrics even more heartbreaking.

I’ll tell all my brothers
And all my sisters, too.
The reason that my heart is broke
Is all because of you

How can one do better than this?

This is what Dylan does.

Go ‘way from my window,
Leave at your own chosen speed
I’m not the one you want, babe
I’m not the one you need
You say you’re lookin for someone
Who’s never weak but always strong
To protect you and defend you
Whether you are right or wrong
Someone to open each and every door
But it ain’t me, babe,
No, no no it ain’t me babe,
It ain’t me you’re lookin for babe

Dylan removes the sentimentality: no longer is it: Leave me, because you broke my heart. It is Leave me, because you want too much from me.

The tortured, hopeless, brooding entanglement of love-hurt break-up, in spite of the love, in the Niles song, is replaced by a pragmatic, disentangling break-up, where there is no love, but only dependency.  The speaker in the Dylan song, despite the echoed phrase, “Go away from my window,” and the melancholy spirit of the song and the words, (“babe” is a tender address) is saying something entirely different from the speaker of the Niles song.

Both songs practice “escape from emotion” (the poetic virtue expressed by T.S. Eliot in 1922).  The Niles song says “go away” instead of “I love you.”  The Dylan song says “go away” and means it, without irony.  The interest lies in the way the Dylan song rewrites the Niles song, but Dylan also uses Eliot’s advice: the “escape” from emotion in the Dylan song’s farewell lecture founders in the traditional structure of the sad love song itself—Dylan is fighting against the form he’s working in, while adding to its possibilities.

It is certainly true that the musical accompaniment will drive home the point I am making about these songs even more—but this doesn’t mean that in these remarks, I am not talking about literature.

 

I AM TODAY

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I am, today, a god

To myself. If a god made me,

That god, too, is a god, and if a god is a god by what he makes,

He is not a god by what he takes,

But a fortunate god who fashions, invents, gives, and fakes.

I accept all mistakes

That made me, fashion me,

And fool me, and make me feel

I am a god. Unless I am a god thinking of a god, I am not real.

 

DON’T THANK ME

Image result for bob dylan with a bird feather

Don’t thank me; I gave you a good time

Because I wanted you forever;

You left me. Now, hearing bird songs and holding a feather,

I do the one thing I know how to do: write rhyme.

Pathetic, I know, but I once saw a poet treated like a king

Because he had a bird who could sing

And that bird, too, flew away.

Now I walk up the palace steps under the sun

To meet the king. I am read by everyone.

Thanks enough, when love tells you, Thanks. I cannot stay.

 

I CAN LOVE FOR A THOUSAND YEARS

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I can love for a thousand years—

But not for a day.

I am sick with a fever,

A fever that interferes with work and play.

I think of the universe—

Stars, and the singing gale.

When I attempt to love the earth,

O breath of wind! I fail.

I dream of the universe—

Stars, and my fortitude.

I said goodbye, forever,

Because once he was rude.

I slide through the graveyard,

On numerous grays of dawn,

By the beautiful statuary,

Adorning the lawn.

The oak and the sky are different shapes,

But always agree in tone.

Where the thickest grass is,

You’ll find a home.

I haven’t changed these thousand years

Beneath that stone.

 

 

 

 

 

I AM PROBABLY LONELIER THAN YOU

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I am confused by the TV news.

It seems to choose to show me what is real.

I know enough that in my heart I feel

You and I can’t quite agree on what we feel.

So we sometimes have an argument, or two.

I am probably lonelier than you.

My country, which I love,

Once had, as its symbols, sunflower and dove.

Has it changed? In the station, now, they push and shove.

I am confused by the latest news.

Yesterday, a new policy. Different. New.

I am probably lonelier than you.

I would rather stay home with tea and cat;

People confuse me, so I prefer that;

Men have wants. I prefer the purr of a cat.

Yes, there’s always something wrong. A rat.

I know. I see online you have friends. Even a love, or two.

I am probably lonelier than you.

 

 

DIGNITY LIVES FAR APART

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“And in other news…Bill Clinton’s private locker room talk was made public today. And Donald Trump will now be your leader.”

Dignity lives far apart

From matters of the heart.

I would be anxious in a submarine,

No matter how clean:

The dark waters above my head

And above that, the sky.

Watching a beautiful woman walk by,

Erect, and lovely, with a flashing eye,

He kept this thought under his hat:

Only a pervert wouldn’t fuck that.

Only a pervert could deny

Desire for that, as it passes by.

WISHES

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“Some of you sitting there with your cock in your hand/Don’t get you nowhere Don’t make you a man” —John Lennon, “I Found Out”

Women never fall in love with men.
They fall in love with wishes.
Sure why shouldn’t women fall in love with a man who doesn’t exist?
What is a man? Someone who jerks off into their fist.

A man is a plan, and also he is what he plans.
A woman is what she plans. A plan is a woman—the best plan of a man’s.
Plans are wishes and wishes are the best plans for adoring fans.

Do you see what I can do?
I can write a poem to you,
But not really to you—because other people see it, too.
I love you, but you don’t exist
Except as a plan, as a name on a list,
As someone in a picture, or someone in a bed,
Or a poem, perhaps, I was planning in my head.

The sexes exist for something higher; they don’t exist for each other.
Was Johnny being funny when he called Yoko, “mother?”
Is money funny, honey?

 

HOW TO WRITE A POEM

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Write a love poem. That way

Your voice will be heard across the bay;

The elements air and water will conspire

To carry the quick, insane fire

Of love and secrets; your readers

Walk on the day; they are not bottom feeders.

Let your words skip

Over the water

As you describe love’s slaughter

To love’s ears from love’s lip.

Love will always have listeners;

Love sums up all disasters

Of the refined mind;

Birth, death, and knowledge are blind,

But not love, despite what they say.

Consult the Phaedrus. Love does save the day,

The only feeling which feels and sees,

Love, the only mind which takes part

In the shadow play trapped forever in the heart.

Poetry’s articulation is poetry’s art,

And, in love, you will be weak,

In love with a beloved who is unable to speak.

So you must be the articulate one.

Go for poetry. Don’t believe the elevation of wine.

If you’re late for the train, run.

It’s okay to be late. Think before you write a line.

Since love forgives, it’s never too late to correct what you’ve done.

 

 

 

 

SCARRIET POETRY HOT 100 IS HERE AGAIN!!!

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1. Matthew Zapruder: Hurricane Matthew. Hired by the Times to write regular poetry column. Toilet papered the house of number 41.

2. Edward Hirsch: Best American Poetry 2106 Guest Editor.

3. Christopher Ricks: Best living critic in English? His Editorial Institute cancelled by bureaucrats at Boston University.

4. Joie Bose: Living Elizabeth Barrett Browning of India.

5. Sherman Alexie: Latest BAP editor. Still stung from the Chinese poet controversy.

6. Jorie Graham: Boylston Professor of Oratory and Rhetoric at Harvard

7. W.S Merwin: Migration: New and Selected Poems, 2005

8. Terrance Hayes: “I am not sure how a man with no eye weeps.”

9. George Bilgere: “I consider George Bilgere America’s Greatest Living Poet.” –Michael Heaton, The Plain Dealer

10. Billy Collins: Interviewed Paul McCartney in 2014

11. Stephen Cole: Internet Philosopher poet. “Where every thing hangs/On the possibility of understanding/And time, thin as shadows,/Arrives before your coming.”

12. Richard Howard: National Book Award Winner for translation of Les Fleurs du Mal in 1984.

13. William Logan: The kick-ass critic. Writes for the conservative New Criterion.

14. Sharon Olds: Stag’s Leap won the T.S. Eliot Prize in 2012.

15. Nalini Priyadarshni: “Denial won’t redeem you/Or make you less vulnerable/My unwavering love just may.”  Her new book is Doppelgänger in my House.

16. Stephen Dobyns: “identical lives/begun alone, spent alone, ending alone”

17. Kushal Poddar: “You wheel out your mother’s latte silk/into the picnic of moths.” His new book is Scratches Within.

18. Jameson Fitzpatrick: “Yes, I was jealous when you threw the glass.”

19. Marilyn Chin: “It’s not that you are rare/Nor are you extraordinary//O lone wren sobbing on the bodhi tree”

20. E J Koh: “I browsed CIA.gov/for jobs”

21. Cristina Sánchez López: “If the moon knows dying, a symbol of those hearts, which, know using their silence as it was an impossible coin, we will have to be like winter, which doesn’t accept any cage, except for our eyes.”

22. Mark Doty: His New and Selected won the National Book Award in 2008.

23. Meghan O’ Rourke: Also a non-fiction writer, her poetry has been published in the New Yorker.

24. Alicia Ostriker: Born in Brooklyn in 1937.

25. Kay Ryan: “One can’t work by/ lime light.”

26. A.E. Stallings: Rhyme, rhyme, rhyme.

27. Dana Gioia: Champions Longfellow.

28. Marilyn Hacker: Antiquarian bookseller in London in the 70s.

29. Mary Oliver: “your one wild and precious life”

30. Anne Carson: “Red bird on top of a dead pear tree kept singing three notes and I sang back.”

31. Mary Jo Bang: “A breeze blew a window open on a distant afternoon.”

32. Forrest Gander: “Smoke rises all night, a spilled genie/who loves the freezing trees/but cannot save them.”

33. Stephen Burt: Author of Randall Jarrell and his Age. (2002)

34. Ann Lauterbach: Her latest book is Under the Sign (2013)

35. Richard Blanco: “One sky, toward which we sometimes lift our eyes/tired from work”

36. Kenneth Goldsmith: “Humidity will remain low, and temperatures will fall to around 60 degrees in many spots.”

37. Rita Dove: Her Penguin Anthology of Twentieth Century American Poetry is already 5 years old.

38. Stephen Sturgeon: “blades of the ground feathered black/in moss, in the sweat of the set sun”

39. Marjorie Perloff: Her book, Unoriginal Genius was published in 2010.

40. Kyle Dargan: His ghazal, “Points of Contact,” published in NY Times: “He means sex—her love’s grip like a fist.”

41. Alan Cordle: Foetry.com and Scarriet founder.

42. Lyn Hejinian: “You spill the sugar when you lift the spoon.”

43. Stephen Dunn: Lines of Defense: Poems came out in 2014.

44. Ocean Vuong: “Always another hour to kill—only to beg some god/to give it back”

45. Marie Howe: “I am living. I remember you.”

46. Vanessa Place: Controversial “Gone with the Wind” tweets.

47. Helen Vendler: Reviewed Collected Poems of John Crowe Ransom, editor Ben Mazer, in the NYR this spring.

48. Martin Espada: Vivas To Those Who Have Failed is his new book of poems from Norton.

49. Carol Muske-Dukes: Poet Laureate of California from 2008 to 2011.

50. Sushmita Gupta: Poet and artist. Belongs to the Bollyverses renaissance. Sushness is her website.

51. Brad Leithauser: A New Formalist from the 80s, he writes for the Times, the New Criterion and the New Yorker.

52. Julie Carr: “Either I loved myself or I loved you.”

53. Kim Addonizio: Tell Me (2000) was nominated for a National Book Award.

54. Glynn Maxwell: “This whiteness followed me at the speed of dawn.”

55. Simon Seamount: His epic poem on the lives of philosophers is Hermead.

56. Maggie Dietz: “Tell me don’t/ show me and wipe that grin/ off your face.”

57. Robert Pinsky: “When you were only a presence, at Pleasure Bay.”

58. Ha Jin: “For me the most practical thing to do now/is not to worry about my professorship.”

59. Peter Gizzi: His Selected Poems came out in 2014.

60. Mary Angela Douglas: “the steps you take in a mist are very small”

61. Robyn Schiff: A Woman of Property is her third book.

62. Karl Kirchwey: “But she smiled at me and began to fade.”

63. Ben Mazer: December Poems just published. “Life passes on to life the raging stars”

64. Cathy Park Hong: Her battle cry against Ron Silliman’s reactionary Modernists: “Fuck the avant-garde.”

65. Caroline Knox: “Because he was Mozart,/not a problem.”

66. Henri Cole: “There is no sun today,/save the finch’s yellow breast”

67. Lori Desrosiers: “I wish you were just you in my dreams.”

68. Ross Gay: Winner of the 2016 $100,000 Kingsley Tufts award.

69. Sarah Howe: Loop of Jade wins the 2016 T.S. Eliot Prize.

70. Mary Ruefle: Published by Wave Books. A favorite of Michael Robbins.

71. CA Conrad: His blog is (Soma)tic Poetry Rituals.

72. Matvei Yankelevich: “Who am I alone. Missing my role.”

73. Fanny Howe: “Only that which exists can be spoken of.”

74. Cole Swensen: “Languor. Succor. Ardor. Such is the tenor of the entry.”

75. Layli Long Soldier: “Here, the sentence will be respected.”

76. Frank Bidart: Student and friend of Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell.

77. Michael Dickman: “Green sky/Green sky/Green sky”

78. Deborah Garrison: “You must praise the mutilated world.”

79. Warsan Shire: “I have my mother’s mouth and my father’s eyes/On my face they are still together.”

80. Joe Green: “I’m tired. Don’t even ask me about the gods.”

81. Joan Houlihan: Took part in Franz Wright Memorial Reading in Harvard Square in May.

82. Frannie Lindsay: “safe/from even the weak sun’s aim.”

83. Elizabeth Oehlkers Wright: Translates contemporary German poetry.

84. Noah Cicero: This wry, American buddhist poet’s book is Bi-Polar Cowboy.

85. Jennifer Barber: “The rose nude yawns, rolls over in the grass,/draws us closer with a gorgeous laugh.”

86. Tim Cresswell: Professor of history at Northeastern and has published two books of poems.

87. Thomas Sayers Ellis: Lost his job at Iowa.

88. Valerie Macon: Surrendered her North Carolina Poet Laureate to the cred-meisters.

89: David Lehman: Best American Poetry editor hates French theory, adores tin pan alley songs, and is also a poet .”I vote in favor/of your crimson nails”

90: Ron Silliman: Silliman’s Blog since 2002.

91: Garrison Keillor: The humorist is also a poetry anthologist.

92: Tony Hoagland: “I wonder if this is a legitimate category of pain/or whether he is just spin doctoring a better grade”

93. Alfred Corn: One of the most distinguished living poets.

94. Philip Nikolayev: He values spontaneity and luck in poetry, logic in philosophy.

95. Laura Kasischke: Read her poem, “After Ken Burns.”

96. Daipayan Nair: “I was never a part of the society. I have always created one.”

97. Claudia Rankine: Her prize-winning book is Citizen.

98. Solmaz Sharif: Her book Look is from Graywolf.

99. Morgan Parker: Zapruder published her in the NY Times.

100. Eileen Myles: She makes all the best-of lists.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BOLLYVERSES

The poet Joie Bose is also a professor. But she writes like—a poet.

The American 2016 presidential election, which, thanks to both major party candidates, is a mud wrestle, has not yet become amateur. Professionals are ever present in politics, in business, in war, and always will be.

Poetry, however, is now an amateur activity through and through.

Love poems on the internet these days give more pleasure than the obscure, indecipherable poems published in the New York Times.

The poet John Keats, a Romantic Titan, one of the ten greatest poets to write in English, once a fixture in the American college curriculum, and now growing less known every day—I imagine you could stop a thousand people on the street and none would know the name Keats—once remarked that there was something beautiful about a quarrel, and we all know what he means; you can find energy and drama alive among the homeless in the streets, such that it rivals anything got up, professionally, on the stage, in terms of body language and dialogue.

The same beauty, for me, applies to amateur love poems written by respectable women.

We recently lost the distinguished (if perhaps overrated) British poet Geoffrey Hill. The sudden demise of Hill’s Editorial Institute at Boston University, ended by a BU provost and a dean, as the Institute’s co-founder, and highly respected critic, and professor at BU, Christopher Ricks, helplessly watched, might signal, to some, the death of poetry as a professional pursuit.

But poetry lost its professional standing a long time ago.

There’s two underlying reasons for this, and it has to do with a perception of professionalism itself.

First. Professionalism has nothing to do with elitism—it is that which best allows mundane daily life to carry on: the concert in which Mozart is played well enough to make us feel warm inside; the democratic election process which defies a revolution or a coup; the smooth functioning of trains and planes; the vaccination given without too much inconvenience, or pain. Politics, the fussing about the economy and the law, is professional by default. It has to be. It defines professional, and once that’s gone, civilization is gone.

And second. There are some glorious things which were never meant to be professional, like a sudden outbreak of a passing quarrel, or a passing love affair, or a passing poem. And when they become professionalized, they die.

The glorious amateur. The mundane professional. Sometimes friends. Sometimes enemies. Always two very different things.

Poetry ceased being glorious the instant it tried to be professional.

When it became a “You Can Be A Writer! And Be Published!”course advertised in a newspaper.When it became swallowed up by the university as a creative writing program.

The greatest poetry has always been written by men and women getting in trouble, living busy lives, doing other things: climbing the Alps with Byron, sailing the Mediterranean with Shelley, dying with Keats, escaping a tyrannical father with Elizabeth Barrett, writing offensive reviews and fiction with Poe, busily hiding away with Dickinson, busily falling apart with Plath, busily falling in love with Millay.

The great 19th century poets, Barrett, Byron, Shelley, Keats, Poe, Dickinson, and Tennyson, were love poets—because poetry belongs, first and foremost, to love, and this is what makes poetry fully and gloriously amateur, and, in the most actual terms imaginable, glorious.

There is always—and we see this a great deal in the 20th century, up to our present day—the deeply earnest attempt to make poetry professional—which means making poetry a vehicle for politics (racism the new brash poetry topic)—an attempt which fails, not because of insincerity, or a lack of talent or education, but simply because poetry’s glory does not lie in the political, professional realm; the attempts to immerse poetry in frank, political rhetoric inevitably produces boring poems. The newspaper is for boring topics, frankly discussed; the poem is for something else.  Some get this.  Most don’t.

The best poem is the one which exists in the private sphere, which is written because a private citizen, contemplating their own experience, bursts forth with it, and tells a truth simultaneously private and universal, because it has to be written—not a poem which will be written, because the contemporary and the political demand it.

Politics, the professional river, unclean and unstoppable, will not have its course altered by poetry; many politicians these days are sexual predators or war predators; in the political realm these predators exist, and poetry has no chance if it attempts to invade the political realm; poetry belongs to the realm of love, and love is the atmosphere in which the sexual predator will be exposed and die. And who will speak up for love, if not poetry? Don’t expect it from speeches on racism or the economy, or from sex-joke sitcoms. Poetry is the true “policeman” of love.

We see poems published all the time which address thorny subjects, obscure subjects, political subjects, which attempt to address political wrongs, and though some of them, if they are explicitly indignant enough, elicit cheers, none of them, frankly, change anything, and, in the meantime, amateur poetry of private love and wisdom withers, and is ignored.

Well, not quite. And this is the good news.

Amateur poetry of private love and wisdom lives. It lives on the Internet.

Even as professional attempts at poetry continue with their pointy-headed, ineffective, obtuseness and obscurity.

Reading the web, I find the best poems are self-published, appearing on my feed without ceremony, and rarely the ones “linked” to an institutional, vast, cliquey, ostentatious tower.

Why is that? For the reasons given in this essay.

Here’s an example from Daipayan Nair, a short but effective poem:

I cannot smell
anything new, any longer.

It’s all me
in different places.

This short work by Nair falls under the category of insightful, self-aware, private wisdom, rather than love. Wisdom is a topic India does not fear, and private wisdom, or honesty, is very close to private love. India right now, in English, on the internet, is producing better work than England or the United States in their professional guises, which may be a remarkable claim, and all the more remarkable because it’s true. Perhaps this is because the West, in its post-modernism frenzy, simply has no belief in wisdom anymore, or a belief in love; and America, especially, has backed itself into a corner, turning its back on its relatively short history, abandoning the 19th century, in its 20th century modernist revolution—leaving itself very little that is traditional or time-honored; while India, with a much longer history, is more relaxed and assimilative, and much less historically cynical, and can still bring the accessible magic. So you have Indian poets self-publishing in English, out-performing the “professional” Americans.

What we like about Nair’s poem, beyond the fact that it is instantly comprehensible, and trades in none of this elitist, “difficulty” nonsense, and has none of the prickly, obscure language which ruins so many American poems, is that it fits the poem we described above—it feels like something written while the poet was busy doing other things; it does not feel professional and slaved over, even as it feels—somehow—necessary and important, that it had to be written. We like it. We like it very much. And we’ll put it up against the lengthier rig-a-marole of an Ashbery, for instance, any day. Perhaps this is comparing apples and oranges. But we like these apples.

Daipayan Nair is a wry, witty and highly prolific poet. He’s on the right track. The amateur one.

The women of India who write their impassioned verses on Facebook live remarkable, impassioned, beautiful lives, and their poems spring directly from their lives, not from any guarded, post-modern sensibility learned in college. These modern Elizabeth Barrett Brownings give immense pleasure from a world of timeless living put quickly and casually into poems. These are not workshop poems squeezed out into a box labeled 2016; these are poems that are poems not because of when they were written, but because they are—poems. Elizabeth Barrett made the 19th century better by her poems; the time didn’t write the poems; she did.

Joie Bose, not belonging to any school or movement or political party or university department, just puts up sonnet after sonnet on the Internet. Here’s one. Not perfectly written. Dashed off, perhaps. But God, if this isn’t an expression of genius:

Sonnet 7

Let’s count the stars, it’s dark now;
Let’s just count nothing else,
Not the lies that became thorns and pierced us,
No not that string of red pearls, glistening.
Let’s not count one by one all the alibis,
Those bouquets in those crystal vases,
Paint smiles on every eyes that look upon;
What else do we have left to give them?
The sun set on us, our work is done,
Our flaming heat gives way to the cold,
All eyes will shut, sleep shall descend,
We had been, what dreams were made of.
Know now this is eternal night, memories glitter
Let’s just count nothing else, just the stars.

18th September, 2016

And if you think this is an accident, here’s more of the sequence—which appears a couple of days later, on September 20th:

Sonnet 12

I will pray before I leave the earth
As I pray every time I leave my body,
I will leave a shadow as I leave the stage
As I leave a poem after every act.
I will pray that you will understand
As I pray every time you misunderstand,
I will leave you a shade in a bright tomorrow
As I leave you shade under this blazing sun.
You will talk of me as you do of history
You will be kind and the bitterness will be gone,
You will hold me in your tear-strewn heart
You will herald me as your guiding star.
Age will give me what my youth has sought
And I will give you then, what I now cannot.

 

Sushmita Gupta, like Joie Bose, is a mother from India, I am familiar with her only from Facebook; she is a painter, designer, and an amateur poet. Which means you probably won’t see her poetry in The New Yorker any time soon. Which also happens to mean she is very good. She writes the kind of poetry which, without any fuss or intellection, fills up your heart. Her lovely blog is called Sushness. This recent poem of hers reminds me of Goethe. Her unorthodox use of the comma slows things down even more, as the poem moves slowly over us, and into us. Almost like something God had passed along:

 

Clouds

Just when,
I was all high strung,
And impatient,
And craving speed,
And burning passion,
And electrifying drama,
And singular attention,
And affirmation,
The dark,
And sedate clouds,
Rolled in,
From afar,
Showing off,
Places and peoples,
It had already touched,
And transformed.
All at once,
I was calmed,
By the cool,
On my face,
And being.
All at once,
I dropped,
Desire,
And desperation.
I was naked.
I was bared,
Into simplicity,
Into a being,
Pure,
In formlessness,
Pure,
In not wanting.

 

Nalini Priyadarshni is also a mother, who explores love poetry as an art in itself, where love feeds poetry—and poety feeds love—in a mutual feedback loop of pure ideal experiment; the passion is willed; this may be considered naive poetry, and the topic (love poetry) might be seen as common and simple. But that is the point. A true intellectual is not afraid to be common and simple.

Your Words

Words born in the recesses of your heart, I  treasure
even before they rise in your throat
or find release from your lips
I know them from another place, another time
All that you say or leave unsaid for another day
I catch in my cupped palms and drink deep
I know its taste from another place, another time
Your silence, when it breathes heavy on my neck
I weave a song along its tendrils
I know its melody from another place, another time
There is no putting in words what can only be felt
live it and trust it will find its way to me
I know its footsteps from another place, another time

 

This poem by Priyadarshni expresses a fanatical faith in love. The sensual “throat,” “lips,” “neck” and “tendrils” are heightened in their sensuality precisely because the poem as a whole is a beautiful desert of hope—love is absent, even as it is intimately present. There is a thrill as the poet strains to transcend love in the poem—a poem remarkable in the manner it expresses love in a faithful underlying of absence/presence. Her book is Doppelgänger in my House, published by the Poetry Society of India.

So ends our brief survey of Bollyverses, available on the Internet, which lives under the radar of professional American poetry, and yet rivals, and even surpasses, American contemporary and academic/program writing, as significant and pleasurable English speaking poetry.

Daipayan Nair, Joie Bose, Sushmita Gupta, and Nalini Priyadarshni are four of the more remarkable poets who have randomly come to Scarriet’s attention—and we are very glad they have.

doppelganger-in-my-house

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’M NOT LEAVING

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I’m not leaving this planet ever.

I will always be here. My poetry

Will be read as long as the planet’s here.

You will have to leave me,

And only then, if you put my poems away.

And even then, I’ll stay.

You won’t forget what you’ve seen—

My lines of black, but green.

Now that you are getting old

With other cares, what can you say about my love that was bold?

Nothing. My poems will say it all.

My poems will treat you kindly, when you, a mere leaf, fall.

And what about these?

Will my readers go away?

These drinking coffee, and talking as they please,

Along the Champs-Elysees?

 

IS STUPIDITY SEXY?

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Is stupidity sexy?
Yes, I want to lie
With stupidity in its nudity.
Nothing has to be here.
Your teasing smile after a beer.
Now let’s have some fun.
We’ll forget about the bible.
And Psychology 101.
We’ll forget about our friends
And we’ll forget about ourselves,
The advice of world literature sitting on the shelves,
We’ll forget about everything that made us so subdued,
We’ll be stupid. And nude.
Yet I don’t know if this is very smart.
Unless nudity and stupidity get you closer to the heart.

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