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Concierto de Aranjuez – Joaquín Rodrigo (Cañizares)‏

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                                                  El Jaleo (1882) 

                                             John Singer Sargent

                                                   __________

 

not much is heard from Spain during
Western music’s Golden Ages, Baroque,
Classical, Romantic, Impressionist,
now even Pop’s, Rock’s, Punk’s, 
Rap’s,
Post-, in all their incarnations, Modern’s 

nor of Art, for that matter, where most 
of its bright lights seem to have fled 
to Paris for its freedom and inspiration
 
and where other nationalities, rather, 
sang or painted their praises more 
successfully – think of “Carmen”, for 
instance, of France’s Georges Bizet,
or, of course, Picasso
 
 
but listen to this wonderful concerto
Aranjuezwhich nearly single-handedly
should allow compatriots to claim their 
place among the very cherished elite
 
like Grieg did for Finland, for Poland, 
Chopin, for instance, who also, 
incidentally, found his fame in Paris, 
perhaps because France had only 
recently then become republic, if 
you’ll remember, maybe
 
 
the Concierto de Aranjuez is for guitar
and orchestra, an unlikely, though not
at all unwelcome, prime position among
a swell of other musicians, especially 
after listening to bassoons, for example,
take in front of them centre stage 
 
Cañizares, a flamenco guitarist of 
extraordinary gifts, deft fingers flying,  
fashioning frets into filigree, latticework,  
lacework, of irresistible artistry, does the   
coveted honours, along with an impeccable 
Simon Rattle wielding brilliant baton, 
while the Berliner Philharmonikerhowever 
improbably, make up the rest of this dream 
combination
 
this is one you won’t want to miss, I utterly,
and unreservedly, promise
 
enjoy it
 
 
Richard
 
psst: remarkably, Rodrigo, blind from the 
         age of three, having lost his sight to 
         diphtheria, wrote all of his music in 
         Braille, for it to be transcribed later
 
          to the question, how would you like 
          to die – he lived to be ninety-seven –  
          he answered, I think, cleverly, and 
          delightfully enigmatically, under no 
          circumstances

 

“Head Shot” – C. Wade Bentley‏

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                                       Spring, 2016” – The Maynard
 
                                                          Link Nicoll
 
                                                    ________________   
 
 
The Maynard is a collection of poems, 
Canadian, I think, culled from a flurry 
of submissions, then published 
quarterly, I think
 
on the strength of this last issue, plus
the previous one, I’ve gleaned only this 
much for having been more interested
in the poems themselves than in their 
provenance
 
I’ve long gone into museums and taken 
out one work, my favourite, as a way of
focusing my attention, the work I choose 
must be considered, by definition, against
the other, often comparable, works which
compel me, I come out having seen them 
all
 
this quarter, Spring, 2016“, is the one 
I take home, where I’m already finding 
a special place for it in my mind
 
   
      My friend who is Hindu refuses 
      to take a shower, in deference  
      to the millions of bacteria 
      he would dislodge, or to move 
      from the couch to the carpet 
      where he might crush unknown 
      numbers of pyroglyphids. I say 

      he’s a lazy son of a bitch.

      Speaking of which, I hear my ex-    
wife now teaches Goddess
      classes. On our last vacation together
      she was reading the complete
      The Secret series as we sat in our beach
      chairs, me using Corona bottles
      to fry sand flies while noticing out
      the corner of my eye how
      she seemed to be intently wishing

      something in my direction.

      I meet my therapist weekly
at the gun club and he tells me
      not to dismiss so easily the ways
      others choose to find meaning,
      and also to breathe out through
      my nose, to picture the smoke
      of the Marlboro reds he made me
      quit smoking curling from my
      nostrils, hanging in the air
      along with the anxieties that had also
      lodged deeply in my chest,
      to squeeze the trigger only
      as the last one leaves, to let
      the 9-millimeter projectile fly where
      it is meant to fly, obliterating
      whichever part of the cardboard
      human target currently hosts
      my deepest dysphoria—the meaning
      and etiology of which, so he says,
      can only then be made clear.
 
                                C. Wade Bentley
 
Richard


“So You Want To Be A Writer” – Charles Bukowski‏

Charles-Bukowski-quotes

                                                                      ___________
 
 
reading this poem for me was like 
looking into a mirror
 
 

 
if it doesn’t come bursting out of you

in spite of everything,
don’t do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
typewriter
searching for words,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it for money or
fame,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don’t do it.
if it’s hard work just thinking about doing it,
don’t do it.
if you’re trying to write like somebody
else,
forget about it.
if you have to wait for it to roar out of
you,
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.

if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you’re not ready.

don’t be like so many writers,
don’t be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don’t be dull and boring and
pretentious, don’t be consumed with self-
love.
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
sleep
over your kind.
don’t add to that.
don’t do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don’t do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don’t do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.

and there never was.

                   Charles Bukowski

dinner out – Francesco’s Ristorante

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                              Kent Bellows
 
                                  _______
 
 
my mom and I discovered a new 
restaurant, an old institution, in fact,
Francesco’s, opened in 1975
 
it was superb 
 
after our having been seated 
perfectly in an airy room, with 
windows all around looking onto 
an adjacent courtyard and the 
street, Grant introduced himself 
as our waiter, we tendered our 
names back, he was about 50, 
just my type
 
he was jaunty, full of good cheer, 
and was, despite a rapid fire 
delivery, utterly helpful
 
the bread came, hot, with a saucer
of butter in oil
 
I’d come back here just for the bread,
my mom said, I never have bread, but 
the prognostications were good 
 
my beef carpaccio, clung to my fork
like love, the thinnest slices dipped
in a caper and truffle oil vinaigrette,
with shaved Parmesan and an 
asparagus spear proud as a ***mas
nutcracker, and a mustard coulis
like hieroglyphs illuminating the 
artful concoction, went down like 
honey
 
I’m going to have dessert, I said, on 
the strength of just that appetizer,
she would too, she countered
 
my mom had the lobster bisque,
which despite her enjoying it she 
put aside to make room for her 
pesto pasta, she said, and which I 
refrained from finishing for her to 
leave room for my own main plate
 
rather than my usual pasta, I went 
for the veal piccata, this time, meat 
that brings back Vienna and Austrian 
fine dining, that’s what I’m having next 
time, my mom said, maybe I will again 
too, I thought, though her pasta looked 
delicious, the rest of which she took 
home in a designer doggie bag they 
send you home with, another touch 
of class, so she could enjoy it later 
 
for dessert I had crème brûlée, she 
had cheesecake, I also had three
limoncellos
 
by that time I can’t remember if she 
had coffee or not, I paid, I however
remember, it was Mother’s Day, and
every penny was entirely worth it
 
to excess, I toasted, and mothers
 
 
Richard
 
 
 
 

 

“Casta diva” – Vincenzo Bellini‏

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         “Fire, Full Moon (1933)
 
          Paul Klee
 
          ______
 
 

a few nights ago the moon was full,
I’d gone up to the roof, one floor up
from my apartment, to the deck there,
complete with pool, barbecue area,
lounge chairs, there was no one, just
me, it was one o’clock in the morning,
my witching hour

I’ve been going there, lately, the air 
is fresh, crisp, it’s quiet, I can relax
there after a day of whatever
 
a perfect chair looks out onto the 
entire city, the bay in the distance, 
the harboured ships, Vancouver 
Island even further during the day
 
I looked at the moon, it stared 
nakedly back at me like a spotlight, 
but clouds got in the way, bubbling,
boiling peremptorily westwards 
before her, clouds on a mission
 
she monitored their march 
imperviously, imperially, implacably,
like a goddess
 
I slunk beneath her gaze, stretched, 
surrendered, slipped into lunar 
things, love, loves, truth, beauty,
purpose, meaning, memories
 
through much of it, I closed my eyes,
aware always she was watching me,
but wrapped in my own transcendental 
reveries
 
when I returned, I stretched again, 
listened for the words, the notes, 
of “Casta diva”, Bellini‘s anthem 
to the moon
 
Norma is a Druid princess, she is
the priestess of the moon, near the
beginning of the opera she makes 
her pitch, it’s her introduction, her 
first aria, a cavatina, well done it is 
unforgettable
 
chaste goddess, she sings, casta 
diva, who casts silver light upon 
these sacred trees, turn thy lovely 
face upon us, unclouded and 
unveiled
 
restrain, o goddess, these zealous 
spirits, I prayed, shed upon earth 
that peace that reigns in heaven 
 
but I couldn’t get the notes right, 
kept slipping into other arias,
though I brought to it my entire
attention, I was, only modestly, 
therefore, there, Norma, also only
softly
 
later I found signature 
performances on the Internet,
Joan Sutherland, a classic, 
Renée Fleming in a superb 
concert performance
 
shed upon earth that peace that 
reigns in heaven, they also cry
pray
 
 
Richard
 
psst: a cavatina is a short aria
 
 
 

Beethoven – piano sonata no.31, op.110 (3rd movement)‏

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Woman Reading in a Garden (1902-03)
 
 

         _______


perhaps my best teacher ever was
my father, others never questioned
the orthodoxy, spewing out the
curriculum like it was sacred, dead,
untouchable, depriving it of its very
worth

my father was a philosopher, God 
was a question, not an answer, I,
at the time, needed an answer
 
we were sent to a Catholic school,
my sister and I, where God was in 
everything, everywhere, omnipotent,
omniscient, and, like a father then, 
autocratic, industrious, demanding,
not unopposed to punishment
 
sins against the Father could be 
summarized, at that age, briefly,
do not kill, do not lie, do not 
disobey your parents, do not 
cheat on your husband, wife, 
and follow all the rituals of the 
Church, the Ten Christian 
Commandments, brought to 
you universally then by Charlton 
“Moses” Heston, under the aegis 
 
none of these graded offences  
applied to me, really, then, but 
lying, and disobeying one’s 
parents, the others were all so 
remote as to be inconsequential, 
though the Church kept up on 
our family’s abrogations of 
religious rites – non-attendance 
at Sunday mass, eating meat 
on Fridays, worse – while 
nevertheless tending dutifully
to our wayward souls, they told 
us, holding out for a final repentant 
confession
 
we never lied at home, I’d lied about 
something once, and was so daunted
when my father probed, I sweated,
must’ve turned purple, not just red,
of embarrassment, I knew I couldn’t 
use that tactic again, I’d inexorably 
blush, flush
 
who put the Brylcreem on the dog,
he’d queried
 
not me, I trembled
 
my sister stood beside me, might 
not have even known anything 
about it, I can’t remember, though 
I recall her dismay, I think, at having 
been so blithely thrown under the 
bus, or maybe that’s just me 
extrapolating 
 
my dad turned back to what he’d 
been doing, having, I’d understood, 
got his answer, proving himself to 
be to me thereby omniscient, I’d 
have no chance, I gathered, against 
something like that, this turned me 
into a good, an at least conscientious, 
person
 
my teachers, paradoxically, only 
ever took marks off for technical 
stuff, Math, History, French, they 
never taught me lessons   
 
a teacher, once, had asked me to
stand at the head of the class and 
read a passage from Shakespeare,
be Romeo, Mark Antony, Lear, I
can’t remember which
 
“O, pardon me, thou bleeding 
piece of earth, / That I am meek 
and gentle with these butchers!”,
I uttered, fraught with emotion,
“Thou art the ruins of the noblest 
man / That ever lived in the tide 
of times”
 
in my mind and in my body I was 
Mark Antony there, shot through 
with the weight of his friend’s 
brutal death, his own irretrievable 
loss 
 
my teacher laughed
 
what, I asked
 
you’re right into it, aren’t you, he 
replied, and shut me up right there 
to any public display of expression 
 
 
I didn’t stop reading Shakespeare 
though, but by myself
 
later I read Homer, Ovid, Proust,
others, did the same with music 
and art, made countless lifelong 
friends thereby, people I’ve always 
been able to turn to, even just in 
ruminative thought as their stories 
still pervaded me, diligently leading   
still the way, like guardian angels,  
maybe
 
 
 
Richard

Meditation 1 – John Donne

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                              John Donne
 
                                 _______
 

to my utter embarrassment, my
profound dismay, I attributed in
my last title John Donne‘s No
inadvertently, a somewhat later 
though nearly contemporary 
poet of Donne‘s, equally as 
noteworthy, thereby accounting, 
maybe, for my confusion, my 
lapse, my infelicity, however still 
unforgivable
 
once I mistook Schubert for 
Beethoven, and, however similar
these might become in their 
euphoric musical explorations
despite their obvious rhythmic 
differences, never a sufficient 
excuse, though, for that flagrant 
flaw, still blush at the memory 
of that faux pas, among French 
intellectuals, no less, the worst, 
the least forgiving   
 
John Donne, I’ve found since, is
not only noteworthy for his ribald 
poems, the ones we studied mostly 
at school, but his “Devotions upon
Emergent Occasions, from which 
No man is an island” is but one
inspirational bit, is replete with 
other gems 
 
he’d composed them after having
survived a brush with death, they 
are wise, and worth individually
considering for their spiritual 
illumination, their metaphysical 
light, their sage and sober 
guidance
 
here’s Meditation 1, or
 
                                   The first grudging of, the sicknesse.
 
“Variable, and therfore miserable condition of Man; this minute I was well, and am ill, this minute. I am surpriz’d with a sodaine change, and alteration to worse, and can impute it to no cause, nor call it by any name. We study Health, and we deliberate upon our meats, and drink, and ayre, and exercises, and we hew, and wee polish every stone, that goes to that building; and so our Health is a long and regular work; But in a minute a Canon batters all, overthrowes all, demolishes all; a Sicknes unprevented for all our diligence, unsuspected for all our curiositie; nay, undeserved, if we consider only disorder, summons us, seizes us, possesses us, destroyes us in an instant. O miserable condition of Man, which was not imprinted by God, who as hee is immortall himselfe, had put a coale, a beame of Immortalitie into us, which we might have blowen into a flame, but blew it out, by our first sinne; wee beggard our selves by hearkning after false riches, and infatuated our selves by hearkning after false knowledge. So that now, we doe not onely die, but die upon the Rack, die by the torment of sicknesse; nor that onely, but are preafflicted, super-afflicted with these jelousies and suspitions, and apprehensions of Sicknes, before we can cal it a sicknes; we are not sure we are ill; one hand askes the other by the pulse, and our eye asks our urine, how we do. O multiplied misery! we die, and cannot enjoy death, because wee die in this torment of sicknes; we art tormented with sicknes, and cannot stay till the torment come, but preapprehensions and presages, prophecy those torments, which induce that death before either come; and our dissolution is conceived in these first changes, quickned in the sicknes it selfe, and borne in death, which beares date from these first changes. Is this the honour which Man hath by being a litle world, That he hath these earthquakes in him selfe, sodaine shakings; these lightnings, sodaine flashes; these thunders, sodaine noises; these Eclypses, sodain offuscations, and darknings of his senses; these Blazing stars, sodaine fiery exhalations; these Rivers of blood, sodaine red waters? Is he a world to himselfe onely therefore, that he hath inough in himself, not only to destroy, and execute himselfe, but to presage that execution upon himselfe; to assist the sicknes, to antidate the sicknes, to make the sicknes the more irremediable, by sad apprehensions, and as if he would make a fire the more vehement, by sprinkling water upon the coales, so to wrap a hote fever in cold Melancholy, least the fever alone should not destroy fast enough, without this contribution nor perfit the work (which is destruction) except we joynd an artificiall sicknes, of our owne melancholy, to our natural, our unnaturall fever. O perplex’d discomposition, O ridling distemper, O miserable condition of Man!”
  
                                                                                      John Donne
 
 
in other words, carpe diem, seize 
the day, don’t worry, be happy,
something too many of us learn 
too late 
 
Richard
 
psst: thanks, Guy, for the heads up,
         Guy is a librarian friend of mine 
         with the goods on the Tudors

 

“No man is an island” – John Donne

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                              John Donne Arriving in Heaven (1911)
 
                                                   Stanley Spencer
 
                                                        _________
 
 
the Munk Debates have been going  
on for some time now, a community 
service program of the very highest 
order, personalities of considerable 
note come together to champion their
positions on questions of supreme
importance in our global environment
 
Hitchens, the notorious, and highly 
influential, atheist contrarian, on 
religion, and suffered to him an 
ignominious defeat   
 
the crude but highly influential military 
advocate and, for a time, Canada’s Chief 
of Defence Staff, as well as the irascible 
Robert BoltonAmerican Ambassador to 
the U.N during the George W. Bush 
administration, and mightily held her 
own
 
Glenn Greenwald, the man who
published Edward Snowden’s trove
of leaked documents, discusses state
surveillance, others, all, have 
contributed to eloquent, and often 
riveting, exchanges 
 
last week the Canadian program went
continent-wide, including, this time, 
in other words, the United States, 
Louise Arbour, the highly respected 
Canadian jurist, and other mostly 
 
Simon Schama, a political pundit, 
offered little to that arenacounting on 
polished credentials, it appeared to me, 
instead of solid information, but stopped 
the show nevertheless with a recitation 
a literary document of the highest 
consequence we’ve all heard but never 
quite properly placed, during otherwise
more conventional closing arguments
 
despite strong opposition to my 
perspective from the site’s comment 
section, I thought No man is an island 
is on this issue not a bad at all place to 
start
 
 
Richard 
 
 
              ________________
 
 
 
 

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

              
                                                                                       John Donne

“Diet Mountain Dew” – Timothy Donnelly

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                  Dew Drenched Furze (1890)
 
                            John Everett Millais
 
                                 _____________
 
 
I have been, perhaps still am, 
grasshopper, which is why I 
react so strongly to this poem
 
at twelve already, after having
read Somerset Maugham’s 
Of Human Bondage“, I knew 
such would be my own fate, 
love wouldn’t be kind to me 
 
it hasn’t, it ain’t easy being 
green
 
 
Richard
 
                  ____________
 
 
 
I have built my ship of death
and when a wind kicks up
I’ll cut it loose to do its thing
across an unnamed lake of you,
a firefly sent pulsing through
the non-stop estivation of
the verses of our South, who in
its larval phase would feast
on bitter worms and snails, who
emerges from its mud chamber
our planet’s most efficient
luminescence, who turns
chemical energy into radiant
energy shedding very little heat,
so will I sail the compass of
you pleased with my cold light.
 
I have built my ship of death
aglow in sturdy chemicals
and powered up at night like
American Express, I’m all
customer service only minus
the customer, no service to speak
of other than death, you will
know my logo by its absence
and slogan from the past
ad for the sugared style of you
on TV in my youth, it goes
like this: “When my thirst
is at its worst . . .” and then I
let it trail off into the unsayable
or is it just unsaid because
my mouth is full of you again.
 
A green like no other green
in the dale, indelicate green or
green indecent, surpassing
the fern and sprout and April’s
optimistic leaflet some stop
to admire in nature, they take
photographs noncognizant
of other vehicles, you are too
green for pasture, you are
my green oncoming vehicle,
usurper of green, assassin
to the grasshopper and its plan,
I put me in your path which is
the path a planet takes when it
means to destroy another I think
you know I’m O.K. with that.
 
A green like no other green
resplending in production since
1940 when brothers Barney
and Ally Hartman cooked it up
in Tennessee qua private
mixer named after moonshine,
its formula then revised by
Bill Bridgforth of the Tri-City
Beverage Corp. in 1958, year
Linwood Burton, chemically
inclined entrepreneur and ship
cleaning service owner, sold
his formula for a relatively safe
maritime solvent to Procter
& Gamble of Ohio, who went on
to market it under the name
 
of Mr. Clean, whose green
approaches yours then at the
last second swerves into
a joke yellow plays on green
to make blue jealous till it
blows up in its face but I can’t
not love the smell of it, citrus
reimagined by an extra-
terrestrial lizard which is to say
inhuman in the way you say
inhuman to me, a compliment
unravelled in the drawl: “Hey
you, over there, you look
so unaccustomed to temporality
I would’ve sworn you were
inhuman,” and time for it after
 
time I fall, further evidence
of my humanity: I am at heart
no less susceptible to rot
than the felt hat on the head
of the rifle-toting barefoot
hillbilly, your mascot until he
disappeared in 1969. Instinct
says he must have shot his
self in the woods in the mouth
one sunrise when a frost
was at hand and the apples
fell thick and he was way
too awake when he did so not to
think there would be another
waiting like a can of you in
the 12-pack in my refrigerator.
 
I have built my ship of death
and enough already, every
toxic sip of you preparing for
the journey to bloviation:
I leave to return and return
to depart again the stronger
for a satisfaction being bound
to no port has afforded me:
I have built my ship of death
so that even when I crawl
back down into the hold of it
alive as what unnaturalness
in you can keep me, it’s only
to emerge from the other
end of it intact, and perfectly
prepared to be your grasshopper.
 
                       Timothy Donnelly
  
        
  
 

carpe diem

still-life-food-glasses-and-a-jug-on-a-table-1640.jpg!Blog

 
                                              Pieter Claesz
 
                                                   _______
 
 

we were having dinner at an upscale
downtown restaurant, I was having
as appetizer wild prawns grilled 
on 
branch of rosemary with chickpeas,
all illuminated with a filigree of 
tahini,
as a main 
course a surf and turf of
crisp pork 
belly and wild Pacific
octopus with a square of 
grilled
polenta 
with again rosemary, Vickie,
a green salad 
with burrata, a cheese
she touted enthusiastically, 
to start,
then the same semolina 
gnocchi
with 
wild mushrooms and pecorino
my 
mother was having, as an entree,
though Mom’
d had a duck and chicken
liver pâté with rhubarb and orange
mâche salad as an opener  

after which we all enjoyed a blackcurrant 
curd for dessert, with burnt meringue 
over a lemon and orange glaze  
 
 
Vickie had had a difficult morning,
you need a foam roller, I repeated, 
a cylinder I use to relax, and which 
I’ve been recommending to all and 
sundry for some weeks
 
how do you feel now, I asked, as I
sipped a fine Platinum Chardonnay 
from the Okanagan Valley, she was 
having nothing other than water for 
a tetchy stomach, she complained, 
despite my several oenophilic, which 
is to say, wine-loving, exhortations, 
even having her smell the clean, 
crystalline aromas of my wine
 
sitting here, on this outdoor veranda,
in this company, among these glittering
wares, I elaborated
 
she toyed distractedly with her pasta
 
out of ten, I said, where ten is fabulous,
a word I usually avoid, but which often 
seems especially appropriate, what 
would you score
 
seven, she retorted, which I thought
acceptable
 
you, Mom, I asked, to which without 
batting an eyelash she replied, ten, 
teaching us both, Vickie and I, 
thereby, inadvertently, a lesson
 
I should’ve expected that, I said back,
you’re always a ten, I would’ve said 
seven, I declared, when not five
 
though sometimes I’ll admit to 
transcendental eleven, I had to 
add, when all of my stars fall right
 
 
later we each walked homewards
to our separate domiciles, stars 
were speckling, not, maybe, 
fortuitously, I noted, an unfettered 
night sky
 
 
Richard
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