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Added by mika_ on 3 Jan 2015 01:16
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Read in 2015

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My Emily Dickinson - Susan Howe
Favorite line(s):

"Emily Dickinson's life was language and a lexicon her landscape."

"Mythology reflects a region's reality."

"Through a forest of mystic meaning, Religion hunts for Poetry's freedom, while Poetry roams Divinity's sovereign source."

"A poem is an invocation, rebellious return to the blessedness of beginning again, wandering free in pure process of forgetting and finding."

"Originality is the discovery of how to shed identity before the magic mirror of Antiquity's sovereign power."

mika_'s rating:
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Arc d'X - Steve Erickson
"...the wild hills his only direction, desolation his only rendezvous."

"...the nutrients of the blood of tyrants are drunk by the soil of freedom's storms. But in my dreams the blood keeps rising, flooding the terrain until no soil remains."

"Now he seized the power that came from that collision of sex with freedom called love."

"...the heart's grief makes a person into a child who must grow old again, or takes him to the edge of life's end from which he must again grow young."

mika_'s rating:
"Emotions play out in the theater of the body. Feelings play out in the theater of the mind."

"I hold these truths to be self-evident, that all humans are created such that they tend to preserve their life and seek well-being, that their happiness comes from the successful endeavor to do so, and that the foundation of virtue rests on these facts."

"The definition of good and evil is simple and sound. Good objects are those that prompt, in reliable and sustainable fashion, the states of joy that Spinoza sees as enhancing the power and freedom of action. Evil objects are those that elicit the opposite result: Their encounters with an organism are disagreeable to that organism."

mika_'s rating:
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Our Ecstatic Days: A Novel - Steve Erickson
"'You'll spend your whole life...making peace with your own true nature.'"

"...you're lost in the dark heart of god or the void, whichever you've decided you believe in: when there are no accidents, is chaos chaos anymore? And if everything is an accident, is order an accident as well? One man stands before a line of tanks. Another crashes an airliner into a building. One ends an Age of Reckoning, the Age of the Sky; the other begins the Age of Chaos, in which the sky melts to earth and becomes a lake. On one or the other or both, those who record the times and those who interpret or use the lessons of what's recorded--and especially those who love power first and last and only, and use such interpretations to their own ends--will impose a rationale. But ultimately and interiorly, the reasons belong not to those who watch and record and interpret and use, but those who do."

mika_'s rating:
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The Shipping News - Annie Proulx
"We're all strange inside. We learn how to disguise our differences as we grow up."

mika_'s rating:
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Columbarium - Susan Stewart
Excerpts from "Drawn from the generation of FIRE"

"the dead are lit by candlelight
around a gleaming table,
their books lie open,
the pages chosen"

"Read to me tonight by the fire,
a book is burning in my hands"

"Forms of Forts"

Hay Fort

"A labyrinth. A pencil shaft of light
wherever four bales could not squarely meet.
The twine tight, lifting as abrading.

A twinge, the prickly collar rubbing
a scratching rash along the forearm.
The heaviness of the hay in the hot dark.

So earnestly, we set
to building for ourselves.
That there should be something
where before there was nothing.

Then the fervent hours
of catching and pretending,
the dreaming hours of strings
and lucky stones.

If you touch one of your hands
with another, the one that touches
will seem alive, the other like
an object to be awakened.

When winter ended,
the doors were rolled back and the broad day
flooded the loft.
And then we could see, in the swath

of sunlight, the stray clover bud,
or jewelweed, or fireweed
or evening primrose,
or robin's plaintain,

Thistle, or chicory,
even once great mullein--
the leaf that is called
velvet dock.

Whatever had been in the mower's path
was bound and pressed into the hay.

You cannot know both hands at once;
you must choose between the living and the dead.

A labyrinth broken open from above
or worn away at its foundations.

That there might be something when there is nothing
and the source of light confused with holiness.

Snow Fort

Come in, come here, come into
this place that has been made for us,
that was packed and braced for us
against the collapsing rain.
Come in, it's a cavern in the white
heart of the sea. Come in
where the silence is like breathing
moonlight, where a faint taste
of iodine will lie on your lips
and you'll never be cold again.
In every part of space, there is another part of space.
When this is gone, it will not disappear."

Excerpt from "Let me tell you about my marvelous god"

"...my god is a feathered and whirling thing; you will singe your arm
when you pluck him from the air,
when you pluck him from that sky
where grieving swirls, and you will burn again
throwing him back."

"What You Said about the Moon"

"All the little lies follow the big lie
while the big lie is pared away.

Fading face, old friend
of my left hand waning;
of my right hand waxing:
gibbous mirror womb for womb.

Throbbing pulse and dangling watch,
globing, shrinking, hinged
where night
unhinges night.

Cause of eloquence
ending in derangement.

There could be such a thing as too much feeling.

I had meant to harvest, not to hunt.

Turn your money over,
blow ashes,
whisper 'I saw you before you saw me.'"

Excerpt from "Night Songs"

"Bonfire or barnfire
accident or not
pain's a form of telescope
for watchers on the hill."

Excerpt from "The Seasons"

"You wanted summer or you wanted death.
So death came again, and that was autumn."

mika_'s rating:
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Red Rover (Phoenix Poets) - Susan Stewart
Excerpt from "Songs for Adam: The Names"

"I saw the whale shed the waves,
I saw the hawk shed the rain,
and though I was never
born, the light came first
at the limit of my mind
and with my own eyes
I could see

how all things on earth
must turn
toward the light,
though the light
has no likeness
on earth."

Excerpt from "When I'm speaking, I'm not crying"

"The personal is artificially political just as
the political is artificially personal."

Excerpt from "Elegy Against the Massacre at the Amish School in West Nickle Mines, Pennsylvania, Autumn 2006"

"a girl is a not a kind of girl
she knows her rhyme
she has her name"

Excerpt from "The Complaint of Mars: Complaint"

"True as metal are some,
but only the false sleep soundly."

Excerpt from "Variations on 'The Dream of the Rood'"

"Inside me stood a dream and in the dream there was a treasure,
a chest drenched with jewels that spilled
as slow as blood"

Excerpt from "In the Western World: the sun is charity"

"That day the sun bore down
so fiercely coming looked like going."

Excerpt from "The Vision of Er"

"Experience turned out to be destiny,
imagination bound only by reversal.
Better to be your own shadow
than something you have never
dreamed. Better to be a corpse
on earth than a sack of light
hung in the sky."

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Homer & Langley: A Novel - E.L. Doctorow
"You have to know someone to want to kill him."

"...we're not free if it's at someone else's sufferance."

"And so do people pass out of one's life and all you can remember of them is their humanity, a poor fitful thing of no dominion, like your own."

"There is music in words, and it can be heard you know, by thinking."

"I remember holding her in my arms and absolving God of meaninglessness."

mika_'s rating:
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The Forest (Phoenix Poets) - Susan Stewart
Excerpts from "The Arbor 1937"

"When I look for symmetry, I cannot turn to this world,
because what is known must be in movement to be true."

"What comes back, comes back from another
place, and doesn't save us, but alters
and, even in denying us, can turn us."

Excerpt from "Medusa Anthology"

"Show us your face, Lord,
like a spot on the sun,
and we'll remember
how the black shape was
a projection from
our long-spent longing
for a starry sign
against our delirium."

Excerpt from "The Desert 1990-1993"

"How can particulars serve us
when all they evoke is the identity of surface,
the analogy of form which undermines
their history?"

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The Country between Us - Carolyn Forche

"Your voices sprayed over the walls
dry to the touch by morning.
Your women walk among champas
with baskets of live hens, grenades and fruit.
Tonight you begin to fight
for the most hopelss of revolutions.
Pedro, you place a host on each
man's chant of Body of Christ Amen.
Margarita, you slip from your house
with plastiques wrapped in newsprint,
the dossier of your dearest friend
whose hair grew to the floor of her cell.
Leonel, you load your bare few guns
with an idea for a water pump and
co-operative farm.
You will fight
and fighting, you will die. I will live
and living cry out until my voice is gone
to its hollow of earth, where with our
hands and by the lives we have chosen
we will dig deep into our deaths.
I have done all that I could do.
Link hands, link arms with me
in the next of lives everafter,
where we will not know each other
or ourselves, where we will be a various
darkness among ideas that amounted
to nothing, among men who amounted
to nothing, with a belief that became
but small light
in the breadth of time where we began
among each other, where we lived
in the hour farthest from God."

Excerpt from "Because One is Always Forgotten"

"The heart is the toughest part of the body.
Tenderness is in the hands."

Excerpt from "Selective Service"

"Half of us are dead or quiet
or lost. Let them speak for themselves.
We lie down in the fields and leave behind
the corpses of angels."

Excerpt from "For the Stranger"

"We have, each of us, nothing.
We will give it to each other."

Excerpt from "Ourselves or Nothing"

"you will die and live
under the name of someone
who has actually died.

mika_'s rating:
Excerpt from "What It Cost"

"As we will never know what it means,
we will know what it cost."

"Song Coming Toward Us"

"I am spirit entering
the stomach of the stones.

Bowls of clay and water sing,
set on the fires to dry.
The mountain moves
like the spirit of southeast morning.

You walk where drums are buried.
Feel their skins tapping all night.
Snow flutes swell ahead of your life.
Listen to yourself.

I am spirit living
thin wooden years
around the aspen.

You live
like a brief wisp
in a giant place."

"Plain Song"

"When it happens, let the birds come.
Let my hands fall without being folded.
And naked in hair that grows on the dead,
tie feathers from the young female.

Close my eyes with coins, cover
my head with agave baskets
that have carried water.

Bring the tub drums and dance.
Bring me to burn with a mesquite branch
and wear the bones that I leave
around your necks."

"Excerpts from "Taproot"

"A cloud of stars gathers as if
thoughts too distant for time will snow
this night."

"In the morning your roof
breathes peacefully.
Your father starts his car.
Your window was a dark
painting then
hanging in the stones of your house."

"Taking Off My Clothes"

"I take off my shirt, I show you.
I shaved the hair out under my arms.
I roll up my pants, I scraped off the hair
on my legs with a knife, getting white.

My hair is the color of chopped maples.
My eyes dark as beans cooked in the south.
(Coal fields in the moon on torn-up hills)

Skin polished as a Ming bowl
showing its blood cracks, its age, I have hundreds
of names for the snow, for this, all of them quiet.

In the night I come to you and it seems a shame
to waste my deepest shudders on a wall of a man.

You recognize strangers,
think you lived through destruction.
You can’t explain this night, my face, your memory.

You want to know what I know?
Your own hands are lying."

mika_'s rating:
"'Tell me things I won't mind forgetting,' she said. 'Tell me useless things or skip it.'"

"...better to be alive and well and not thinking than thinking and smoking and dead."

"We can only die in the future, I thought; right now we are always alive."

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Given Sugar, Given Salt: Poems - Jane Hirshfield
Excerpt from "The Envoy"

"There are openings in our lives
of which we know nothing.

Through them,
the belled herds travel at will,
long-legged and thirsty, covered with foreign dust."

"Poem Holding Its Heart in One Fist"

"Each pebble in this world keeps
its own counsel.

Certain words--these, for instance--
may be keeping a pronoun hidden.
Perhaps the lover's you
or the solipsist's I.
Perhaps the philosopher's willowy it.

The concealment plainly delights.

Even a desk will gather
its clutch of secret, half-crumpled papers,
eased slowly, over years,
behind the backs of drawers.

Olives adrift in the altering brine-bath
etch onto their innermost pits
a few furrowed salts that will never be found by the tongue.

Yet even with so much withheld,
so much unspoken,
potatoes are cooked with butter and parsley,
and buttons affixed to their sweater.
Invited guests arrive, then dutifully leave.

And this poem, afterward, washes its breasts
with soap and trembling hands, disguising nothing."

Excerpt from "In Praise of Coldness"

"Neither a person entirely broken
nor one entirely whole can speak.

In sorrow, pretend to be fearless. In happiness, tremble."

Excerpt from "'Nothing Lasts'"

"Grief and hope
the skipping rope's two ends,
twin daughters of impatience.

One wears a dress of wool, the other cotton."

"Like an Ant Carrying Her Bits of Leaf or Sand"

"Like an ant carrying her bits of leaf or sand,
the poem carries its words.
Moving one, then another, into place.

Something in an ant is sure where these morsels belong,
but the ant could not explain this.
Something in a poem is certain where its words belong,
but the poet could not explain this.

All day the ant obeys an inexplicable order.
All day the poet obeys an incomprehensible demand.

The world changes or does not change by these labors;
the geode peeled open gives off its cold scent or does not.
But that is no concern of the ant's, of the poem's.

The work of existence devours its own unfolding.
What dissolves will dissolve--
you, reader, and I, and all our quick angers and longings.
The potato's sugary hunger for growing larger.
The unblinking heat of the tiger.

No thimble of cloud or stone that will not vanish,
and still the rearrangements continue.

The ant's work belongs to the ant.
The poem carries love and terror, or it carries nothing."

Excerpt from "Poem with Two Endings"

"Death is voracious, it swallows all the living.
Life is voracious, it swallows all the dead."

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"There are no decent settings for joy or suffering. All our environments are wrong. They embarrass our emotions. They make our emotions into the plastic tiger lilies in the window boxes of Howard Johnson’s restaurants."

"The philosophers have only interpreted the world; the point is to change it."

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Angle of Yaw - Ben Lerner
"Just because these tears were on your face
doesn't mean they're yours.
The tree in your mind

is mine.
The redistribution of tears
reflects our collective commitment

to storm and stress,
to attitudes befitting participants in sports

and sports writing.
The conventions governing weeping in novels
do not apply to weeping done on-camera

or in teams.
Eldest sons dispossessed of ancestral tears
mock the tears of the nouveaux riches.
You call that weeping?

We call it sports entertainment
because the loser gets paid more,
because losing is hazardous,
because hazards are for losers

in the collective economy
of variable stars.

Rational actors wearing wrestling masks
would chose to lose collectively,
to collectivize losing
in the service industry.

I perform a valuable service
(I lose)
and I work from home.

Am I not then entitled to drink six beers
and watch some losing gracefully performed?"

"Formalism is the belief that the eye does violence to the object it apprehends.
All formalisms are therefore sad.
A negative formalism acknowledges the violence intrinsic to its method.
Formalism is therefore a practice, not an essence.

For example, a syllogism subjected to a system of substitutions
allows us to apprehend the experience of logic
at logic's expense.

Negative formalisms catalyze an experience of structure.
The experience of structure is sad,
but, by revealing the contingency of content,
it authorizes hope.

This is the role of the artwork--to authorize hope,
but the very condition of possibility for this hope is the impossibility of its fulfillment.
The value of hope is that it has no use value.
Hope is the saddest of formalisms."

"Violence is not yet modern; it fails to acknowledge the limits of its medium."

"Ignorance that sees itself is elegy."

"Angels are absences in the snow, visible only from above. When it thaws they will stand up and search for the children they have known."

"Confusing the desire to display affection with affection, we applaud the veterans of an imaginary conflict with real victims. An immoderate reverence for tradition guides everything but our reading. I throw my own party and go away."

mika_'s rating:
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"We must retract our offerings, burnt as they are.
We must recall our lines of verse like faulty ties.
We must flay the curatoriat, invest our sackcloth,

and enter the Academy single file.

Poetry has yet to emerge.
The image is no substitute. The image is anecdote
in the mouth of a stillborn. And not reflection,
with its bad infinitude, nor religion, with its eighth of mushrooms,
can bring orgasm to orgasm like poetry. As a policy,

we are generally sorry. But sorry doesn't cut it.
We must ask you to remove your shoes, your lenses, your teeth.
We must ask you to sob openly.

If it is any consolation, we admire the early work of John Ashbery.
If it is any consolation, you won't feel a thing."

"When a longing exceeds its object, a suburb is founded.
Goatsuckers spar in the linden. The redskins are hunted.
When the hunt exceeds its object, the past achieves
pubescence. History pauses
for emphasis. After these poems are published,

money will be no object.
Money will be a gray bird known for mocking other birds.
The stars will be adjusted for inflation
so that the dead can continue living
in the manner to which they've grown accustomed.

When a dream of convenience begins to dream itself,
the neighborhood's last bamboos reel in their roots.
The children make love 'execution style,'
then hold each other like moments of silence."

mika_'s rating:
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Mean Free Path - Ben Lerner
"Take my voice. I don't need it. Take my face
I have others."

"Do not hesitate
To cut the most beautiful line in the name
Of form"

"Go in fear of abstraction
But go. Be gone by morning. There is nothing
You don't need a shell. Just cup your hand
Nothing for you here but repitition"

"I thought that maybe
If you aren't too busy, we could spend our lives
Parting in stations"

"With my nondominant hand
I want to give
in a minor key
the broadest sense"

mika_'s rating:
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"Although I claimed to be a poet, although my supposed talent as a writer had earned me my fellowship in Spain, I tended to find lines of poetry beautiful only when I encountered them quoted in prose, in the essays my professors had assigned in college, where the line breaks were replaced with slashes, so that what was communicated was less a particular poem than the echo of poetic possibility. Insofar as I was interested in the arts, I was interested in the disconnect between my experience of actual artworks and the claims made on their behalf; the closest I'd come to having a profound experience of art was probably the experience of this distance, a profound experience of the absence of profundity."

"...the more abysmal the experience of the actual the greater the implied heights of the virtual."

"...nothing was more American, whatever that means, than fleeing the American, whatever that is..."

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A Pale View of Hills - Kazuo Ishiguro
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The Penelopiad - Margaret Atwood
"Now that I'm dead I know everything."

"Which of us can resist the temptation of being thought indispensable?"

mika_'s rating:
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Selected Poems: 1965-1975 - Margaret Atwood

"Again so I subside
nudged by the softening
driftwood of your body,
tangle on you like a water-
weed caught
on a submerged treelimb

with sleep like a swamp
growing, closing around me
sending its tendrils through the brown
sediments of darkness
where we transmuted are
part of this warm rotting
of vegetable flesh
this quiet spawning of roots

from the lucidities of day
when you are something I can
trace a line around, with eyes
cut shapes
from air, the element
where we
must calculate according to

but here I blur
into you our breathing sinking
to green milleniums
and sluggish in our blood
all ancestors
are warm fish moving

The earth
shifts, bringing
the moment before focus, when
these tides recede; and we
see each other through the
hardening scales of waking

stranded, astounded
in a drying world

we flounder, the air
ungainly in our new lungs
with sunlight streaming merciless on the shores of morning"

Excerpt from "Against still life"

"Your silence
isn't enough for me
now, no matter with what
contentment you fold
your hands together; I want
anything you can say
in the sunlight"

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Excerpts from "Furious Versions"

"I'm like my landlocked poplars: far
from water, I'm full of the sound of water."

"The past
doesn't fall away, the past
joins the greater
telling, and is."

"The Interrogation"

Two streams: one dry, one poured all night by our beds.

I’ll wonder
about neither.

The dry one was clogged with bodies.

I’m through
with memory.

At which window of what house did light teach you tedium?
On which step of whose stairway did you learn indecision?

I’m through
sorting avenues and doors,
curating houses and death.

Which house did we flee by night? Which house did we flee by day?

Don’t ask me.

We stood and watched one burn; from one we ran away.

I’m neatly folding
the nights and days, notes
to be forgotten

We were diminished. We were not spared. There was no pity.
Neither was their sanctuary. Neither rest.
There were fires in the streets. We stood among men, at the level
of their hands, all those wrists, dead or soon to die.

No more
letting my survival
depend on memory.

There was the sea; its green volume brought despair.
There was waiting, there was leaving. There was
astonishment too. The astonishment of
'I thought you died!” “How did you get out?'
'And Little Fei Fei walked right by the guards!'

I grow
leaden with stories,
my son’s eyelids
grow heavy.

Who rowed the boat when our father tired?

Don’t ask me.

Who came along? Who got left behind?

Ask the sea.

Through it all there was no song, and weeping
came many years later.

I’m through
with memory.

Sometimes a song,
even when there was weeping.

I’m through with memory.

Can’t you still smell the smoke on my body?"

"The Hour and What is Dead"

"Tonight my brother, in heavy boots, is walking
through bare rooms over my head,
opening and closing doors.
What could he be looking for in an empty house?
What could he possibly need there in heaven?
Does he remember his earth, his birthplace set to torches?
His love for me feels like spilled water
running back to its vessel.

At this hour, what is dead is restless
and what is living is burning.

Someone tell him he should sleep now.

My father keeps a light on by our bed
and readies for our journey.
He mends ten holes in the knees
of five pairs of boy’s pants.
His love for me is like sewing:
various colors and too much thread,
the stitching uneven. But the needle pierces
clean through with each stroke of his hand.

At this hour, what is dead is worried
and what is living is fugitive.

Someone tell him he should sleep now.

God, that old furnace, keeps talking
with his mouth of teeth,
a beard stained at feasts, and his breath
of gasoline, airplane, human ash.
His love for me feels like fire,
feels like doves, feels like river-water.

At this hour, what is dead is helpless, kind
and helpless. While the Lord lives.

Someone tell the Lord to leave me alone.
I’ve had enough of his love
that feels like burning and flight and running away."

Excerpt from "My Father, in Heaven, is Reading Out Loud"

"He waited merely, as always someone
waits, far, near, here, hereafter, to find out:
is it praise or lament hidden in the next moment?"

Excerpt from "A Story"

"a boy's supplications
and a father's love add up to silence."

mika_'s rating:
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Excerpt from "Epistle"

"Before it all gets wiped away, let me say,
there is wisdom in the slender hour
which arrives between two shadows.

It is not heavenly and it is not sweet.
It is acompanied by steady human weeping,
and twin furrows between the brows,

but it is what I know,
and so am able to tell."

Excerpt form "Ash, Snow or Moonlight"

"I can tell you there is a war
going on, but don't ask me
to distinguish if it's ash, snow, or moonlight
that crease these people's faces."

mika_'s rating:
"From Another Room"

"Who lay down at evening
and woke at night
a stranger to himself? A country

wholly unfound to himself, who wondered
behind closed eyes
if his fate meant winter knitting

outcome underground, summer
overdue, or spring’s pure parable, the turning
in every turning thing, fruit and flower,
jar, spindle, and story?

He’s the one who heard
the hidden dove’s troubled voice
and has been asking
ever since: Whose sleep
builds and unbuilds those great rooms, Night and Day?

He’s the one who knows
what a gleaned thing his own voice is,
something the birds
discarded, trading for a future. Call him

one whom night found beyond
the fallen gate,

where the mower never mows
with now way to go but toward
the growing shadow of the earth.

Call him the embarked
in search of itself, a black dew receding
unto its own beginnings.

Depending on who you ask,
his mother or his night, he’s either
the offspring of his childhood or his death.

Depending on who his mother is in his dreams—
beggar, thief, boatman, mist—

he’s either a man paused
on the stairs, thinking he heard
the names he used as a boy
behind his parents’ house,
during evening games of lost and found,

or else a child
reading out loud to himself
from his favorite book every morning.

One day he finds his own voice
strange, himself no longer
the names his playmates knew him by,
but not yet the boundless
quiet of his mother’s watching
from another room."

Excerpt from "Little Father"

"I buried my father in my heart.
Now he grows in me, my strange son,
my little root who won’t drink milk,
little pale foot sunk in unheard-of night,
little clock spring newly wet
in the fire, little grape, parent to the future
wine, a son the fruit of his own son,
little father I ransom with my life."

Excerpt from "Fill and Fall"

"As long as night is one country
on both sides of my window, I remain a face
dreaming a face

and trace the heart’s steep path: Night
and falling."

Excerpt from "Stations of the Sea"

"And of all the rooms in my childhood,
God was the largest
and most empty."

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"You could know the what of something forever and never discover the why."

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Excerpts from "Equation One"

"This ordinary language finds
rhythm in ambiguous flame,
that stable density of one
and one, the urgent displacement
that nurtures light."

"Resignation comes hard on this
side of Being."

Excerpts from "Equation Two"

in it's bounded estate,
the spirit
knows itself
as the guide who moves to erase
her footsteps."

"Love is ancient
evidence, an instrument
constrained, jealous of its
in awe of its own death;
every name embraces it."

"Equation Three"

"Completely disguised,
the dancer wears the mask
about his
body.This tree now falls,
a surface
and red lineage,

an axiom
and proposal,
the firm embrace
of the unsolved.

These are the elements
of desire:
black from the Dano
tree, the blood of a rock,
cattle bones
ground into whiteness,

and yellow clay.
Set to a new
measure, they form
their own release.

With wet snow
in the nearest birch,
October writes under
Punch that for God's trace,
transcendental mistakes,

or the cozy
fire of  harvest
free invention.

What we call
our own might only be
the first stroke upon
a stellar
clock, an instant shift
of center, a notion

the Cusan could
propose and stir
in the atom.

Never let it go.
Any instant can redeem
those objects
that distance can construct.
Or must we
misread existence

and the sly form
of a second
star, receding
and unremarked?

So God must surely die,
and heaven
be abandoned, each
system bled and given
to itself;
then you will draw your

conclusions by
natural light,
the infinite
physics of masks."

"Equation Five"

"The dune evening primrose
would be welcome here,
attuned to our silence.
Nothing here would shade
its sere presence;
it would go down, searching
its strength and that welcome
disturbance called death.
We need, perhaps, a water birch
with its scarred and reddish bark,
a native life that speaks to the rose
and draws us instantly home.

with the click and trill
of the broad-tailed hummingbird.
We have nestled,
year by year,
in the traces of the same bird.
Yet, we might imagine
a skeptical bird,
with its wings
embraced by the solar wind.
Count upon the scale of a burning bush,
or the perfectly habitable, silent tree.

This is the altar,
altered by a double desire.
Canonical hours call this curandero
out of its contradance;
he has learned to live with aberrant cactus.
Would Hilary praise him?
Would Paul open the door to his peculiar justice?
Only the dark matter of vision concerns him.
Step by rooted step,
the man will lead you to that other field
where nothing native belongs
and all is figure and blindness.

We have defined magmatic bliss
and an absolute luminosity
we will keep in our care.
Resplendent logic
dresses our faith. If ruin
has a small beginning,
there is still the far-shining promise
of a mortal altar
and a welcome dancer
who will not betray us.
Call this a surrounding fiction,
a transformative disposition.

All song is bent
by a silent measure;
a dancer’s foot
is a luminous disk in flight.
This song is an open field,
and a fibrous exploration
where the voice feels braced
by its own fluidity.
We will hope
that this dancer’s body flows
with the expansive ambiguity,
all substance safe, all passion tempered.

Walking on East Palace,
those who sing find themselves oppressed
by juniper’s shadow.
That sentence is logically true,
if, and only if,
the inoffensive crocodile remains
a lexical substitution.
The answer lies in carbon-rich clay
and the thin significance
of the insignificant body.
Say that this relational apprehension
has nothing to do with the world,
or the molecular complexity
of juniper’s shadow,
and that the inoffensive crocodile swims
toward its lexical disaster."

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Excerpt from "Dust"

"That's how it is sometimes--
God comes to your window,
all bright light and black wings,
and you're just too tired to open it."

"Each Sound"

"Beginnings are brutal, like this accident
of stars colliding, mute explosions
of colorful gases, the mist and dust
that would become our bodies
hurling through black holes, rising,
muck ridden, from pits of tar and clay.
Back then it was easy to have teeth,
claw our ways into the trees — it was
accepted, the monkeys loved us, sat
on their red asses clapping and laughing.
We’ve forgotten the luxury of dumbness,
how once we crouched naked on an outcrop
of rock, the moon huge and untouched
above us, speechless. Now we talk
about everything, incessantly,
our moans and grunts turned on a spit
into warm vowels and elegant consonants.
We say plethora, demitasse, ozone and love.
We think we know what each sound means.
There are times when something so joyous
or so horrible happens our only response
is an intake of breath, and hen
we’re back at the truth of it,
that ball of life expanding
and exploding on impact, our heads,
our chest, filled with that first
unspeakable light."

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Smoke - Dorianne Laux
"Trying to Raise the Dead"

"Look at me. I’m standing on a deck
in the middle of Oregon. There are
friends inside the house. It’s not my

house, you don’t know them.
They’re drinking and singing
and playing guitars. You love

this song, remember, 'Ophelia.'
Boards on the windows, mail
by the door
. I’m whispering

so they won’t think I’m crazy.
They don’t know me that well.
Where are you now? I feel stupid.

I’m talking to trees, to leaves
swarming on the black air, stars
blinking in and out of heart-

shaped shadows, to the moon, half-
lit and barren, stuck like an axe
between the branches. What are you

now? Air? Mist? Dust? Light?
What? Give me something. I have
to know where to send my voice.

A direction. An object. My love, it needs
a place to rest. Say anything. I’m listening.
I’m ready to believe. Even lies, I don’t care.

Say burning bush. Say stone. They’ve
stopped singing now and I really should go.
So tell me, quickly. It’s April. I’m

on Spring Street. That’s my gray car
in the driveway. They’re laughing
and dancing. Someone’s bound

to show up soon. I’m waving.
Give me a sign if you can see me.
I’m the only one here on my knees."


"Sweet Jesus, let her save you, let her take
your hands and hold them to her breasts,
slip the sandals from your feet, lay your body down
on sheets beaten clean against the fountain stones.
Let her rest her dark head on your chest,
let her tongue lift the hairs like a sword tip
parting the reeds, let her lips burnish
your neck, let your eyes be wet with pleasure.
Let her keep you from that other life, as a mother
keeps a child from the brick lip of a well,
though the rope and bucket shine and clang,
though the water's hidden silk and mystery call.
Let her patter soothe you and her passions
distract you, let her show you the light
storming the windows of her kitchen, peaches
in a wooden bowl, a square of blue cloth
she has sewn to her skirt to cover the tear.
What could be more holy than the curve of her back
as she sits, her hands opening a plum.
What could be more sacred than her eyes,
fierce and complicated as the truth, your life
rising behind them, your name on her lips.
Stay there, in her bare house, the black pots
hung from pegs, bread braided and glazed
on the table, a clay jug of violet wine.
There is the daily sacrament of rasp and chisel,
another chair to be made, shelves to be hewn
cleanly and even and carefully joined
to the sun-scrubbed walls, a sharp knife
for carving odd chunks of wood into small toys
for the children. Oh Jesus, close your eyes
and listen to it, the air is alive with bird calls
and bees, the dry rustle of palm leaves,
her distracted song as she washes her feet.
Let your death be quiet and ordinary.
Either life you choose will end in her arms."

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Shadow Tag: A Novel - Louise Erdrich
"I must have known you would not be able to resist looking inside, trying to find the secret. You have painted me for nearly fifteen years. In that time I have had secrets. I have let them rest like dragonflies on the surface of my body."

"But here is the most telling thing: you wish to possess me.
 And my mistake: I loved you and let you think you could."

"Infatuation, sudden attraction, is partly a fever of surfaces, an absence of knowledge. Falling in love is also falling into knowledge. Enduring love comes when we love most of what we learn about the other person and can tolerate the faults they cannot change."

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Excerpt from "The Way Things Work"

"The way things work
is that eventually
something catches."

"Tennessee June"

"This is the heat that seeks the flaw in everything
and loves the flaw.
Nothing is heavier than its spirit;
nothing more landlocked than the body within it.
Its daylilies grow overnight, our lawns
bare, then falsely gay, then bare again. Imagine
your mind wandering without its logic,
your body the sides of a riverbed giving in...
In it, no world can survive
having more than its neighbors;
in it, the pressure to become forever less is the pressure
to take forevermore
to get there. Oh

let it touch you...

The porch is sharply lit--little box of the body--
and the hammock swings out easily over its edge.
Beyond, the hot ferns bed, and fireflies gauze
the fat tobacco slums,
the crickets boring holes into the heat the crickets fill.
Rock out into that dark and back to where
the blind moths circle, circle,
back and forth from the bone-white house to the creepers unbraiding.
Nothing will catch you.
Nothing will let you go.
We call it blossoming--
the spirit breaks from you and you remain."

"Hybrids of Plants and Ghosts"

"I understand that it is grafting,
this partnership of lost wills, common flowers.

That only perfection can be kept, not
its perfect instances. Snap-

dragon what can I expect of you,
dress of the occasion?

So I am camouflaged,
so the handsome bones make me invisible.

It is useless. Randomness,
the one lost handkerchief at my heart,

is the one I dropped and know
to look for. Indeed, clues,

how partial I am to bleeding hues,
to clustering. Almond,

stone fruit,
you would be a peach, an apricot--

but see how close you can come without
already being there, the evening pulled in

at your waist, slipping over your feet,
driving them firmly into place,

the warm evening saying Step, anywhere you go
is yours, sweet scent in a hurry, to bloom is to be

taken completely--.
With petals, creaseless and ambitious,

may I break your even weave, loosen your knot,

and if I break you are you mine?"

Excerpt from "Flooding"

"And everywhere you go you are the land between the lakes,
the stroke of luck which has the world
it splits in two
for wings."

"Excerpt from "The Nature of Evidence"

"...I would like to catch the world
at pure idea--although, as with my profile, I,
turning to it, find
only myself again."

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Erosion - Jorie Graham
Excerpt from "The Age of Reason"

"The trees are green.
The earth
is green. The light
is sick

with green. Now that
he's gone
the woman is a tiny
in green."

Excerpt from "Making a Living"

"...love is to become, like pain,
at last opaque."

Excerpt from "The Daffodil"

"I think of you
watching me, seeing
what's here slipping out of
what it represents.
I think of what you
have to overlook

to see me."

"Updraft (New York City, May 1982)"


You who are not different,
let the hush and click of the heady leaves, the avenues
announcing rain
and the hum of the neon
and the miraculous ropings of spittle and dead
leaves and urine
and new rain
in the gutters

stick to You. Let them in. They are Your cellwork,
inventing. And the old woman in my basement rooms
with her whine
and her knife.
And all the blossoms ripped suddenly by one gust, one

of dust and silks
by which we are all rising, turning, all


crossing against the light.
As if the veil, the earth-dress, hem, were turning, sleeve
of the vast
lifting...Is she

bored? Is she sleepy? All the statistics, the century's
burned and gang-raped
turning, lifting, a blade catching the late

redeeming it, and us needing its wrongest beauty, coherent
refusals...Does that
acquit us, that starched, intelligent
does that make her a good

girl when the lights come on, deep and bloody in the late
and the day, the luminous silk, seems to leak out
through the purr
of the flesh, unquenched, girl, in her

puddles and black silks
with red and electric
blues, will she

be good
and worth us, for sale as she is, even the last spit and wrapper
saying Sorry in dawns that gleam and suck
the life out of you,


so that we need to lean and rub against what isn't thought.
How clean the leaves become then. How clean
the heart is finally, becoming what
it cannot change.

As the blood smears itself against the mind.
And cannot go further.
Our chilly mother-gap. Held breath. Unpromised land.
Meanwhile listen to the flies, the crones,

everywhere threading and threading, contagion, hope...
For in their mouths
the whole world passes, is
repaired, against the light, so let her slip
out of her heavy garment then, let her slip back
into the rip, into Your dream, Your
loneliness, back, deep into the undress, back
before Your needle leapt in Your fingers, meaning."

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Camp Concentration: A Novel - Thomas M. Disch
"Science acquiesces, fatally, to the second law of thermodynamics--magic is free to be a conscientious objector. The fact is that I'm not interested in a universe in which I have to die."

"Morality is concerned with applications of knowledge, not the knowledge itself."

"There's a form of prostitution for everybody these days."

"'Much that is terrible we do not know. Much that is beautiful we shall still discover. Let's sail till we come to the edge.'"

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Elegy Owed - Bob Hicok
Excerpt from "Pilgrimage"

"...each poem a breath
nailed to nothing."

Excerpt from "One of those things we say"

"I love how intimate I've become with failure."

Excerpt from "Elegy to unnamed sources"

"what a stark easel the sky
never asked to be."

"Born again"

"One day I was introduced to a bed
in which a woman was born, gave birth, and died.

The woman who introduced me to the bed
was the granddaughter of the woman
who was born in the bed and never lived
in another house.

Being a child of wind, I whispered
in the company of so much permanence.

The woman found my reverence ridiculous.

I knew this because she took off her clothes
and got on the bed as a way of asking me
to join her in making the bed a living bed.

It was in that bed that the woman told me
she tried to kill herself at seventeen.

Lots of Valium under a tree with horses nearby
ignoring her to eat.

This is my second life, she said, the one I got
for now knowing more about drugs, for being shy
when it came to my father's shotgun
in my mouth.

By then, she'd lived a hundred years
in dog years beyond when she'd wanted to die.

When I told her this, she said, Woof.

The bed squeaked each time we turned
or breathed our bodies into each other.

I keep asking myself if this story is true.

I seem to believe it is, seem to admire time
and making love on top of musical springs
and the world every day for not killing itself,
not exploding or burning down
as it might reasonably want to.

And the woman?

I seem to know her or contain her or think
the valley in which I live
would resemble her if someone had the language
to convince it to rise and be a woman
wearing a flowered dress.

Women are more likely to wear gardens
than men, to be valleys, to hold time
in their bodies and take us
inside what is passing
as it passes, what is arriving
as we leave.

And the man?

I seem to be him or want him
to be the feeling that stars
would look down on us and ask
What are you going through
if only they had mouths."

"Leave a message"

"When the wind died, there was a moment of silence
for the wind. When the maple tree died, there was always a place
to find winter in its branches. When the roses died, I respected the privacy
of the vase. When the shoe factory died, I stopped listening
at the back door to the glossolalia of machines.
When the child died, the mother put a spoon in the blender.
When the child died, the father dug a hole in his thigh
and got in. When my dog died, I broke up with the woods.
When the fog lived, I went into the valley to be held
by water. The dead have no ears, no answering machines
that we know of, still we call."

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Life on Earth - Derek Mahon
Excerpt from "Trigorin"

"the wind goes running in remembered meadows
under the vast light of these northern skies:
'Out here I feel a quickening of the senses
far from reviewers and hostile audiences.'"

Excerpt from Quaderno"

"We spend our days conversing with chimeras
and take a torch when we go out at night."

"The Lady from the Sea"

"She Born in a lighthouse, I still find it hard
As wife to a doctor ten miles from the coast.
My home is a pleasant one goal I get bored;
the mountains bother me. Now, like a ghost,
you show up here, severe and adamant.
What are you anyhow? What do you want?

He I am a simple man upon the land,
I am a seal upon the open sea.
Your eyes are of the Depths. Give me your hand,
give me your heart and come away with me
to the Spice Islands, the South Seas; anywhere.
Only the strength of habit keeps you here.

She Even up here, enclosed, I sniff the brine,
the open sea out there beyond the beach;
my thoughts are waves, my dreams are estuarine
and deeper than an anchor chain Could reach.
I Knew you'd come, like Some demonic fate
glimpsed at a window or a garden gate.

He How can you live here with no real horizon
someone like you, a mermaid and a Muse,
a figment of your own imagination,
the years elapsing like a tedious cruise?
Your life is like-settled the summer glow;
dark clouds foreshadow the approaching snow.

She Sometimes, emerging from my daily swim
or gazing from the dock thesis quiet nights,
I know my soul siren; and in a dream
Astonished I stare at the harbor lights,
hugging my knees and sitting up alone
as ships glide past darkly with a low moan.

If our mad race he HAD never left the sea,
Had we Remained content with mud and rock,
we might-have saved Ourselves great misery;
Even though this evening we might still go back.
Think of the crashing breakers, the dim haze
of a salt rising sun is watery days.

She My wild spirit unbroken, should I return
to the tide, choosing at last my other life,
reverting to blue water and sea-brine,
or do I still have a faithful wife?
If faithful is the word for one clings Who
lost to the pre-existence of previous things.

He Do you remember the great vow you made
to the one man you --other thing from men?
The years-have come between, with nothing Said,
and now the stranger HAS Appeared again
form to claim your love and make it new.
You ask me what I am; what purpose are you?

She I am a troubled woman on the land,
I am a seal upon the open sea,
goal it's too late to give my heart and hand
to someone Who Remains a mystery.
Siren or not, this is my proper place;
Go to your ship and leave me here in peace."

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The Heart is a Lonely Hunter - Carson McCullers
"'I'm one who knows. I'm a stranger in a strange land.'"

"When he read the Spinoza aloud to himself the words had a rich, dark sound."

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Child of God - Cormac McCarthy
"All the trouble I ever was in was caused by gettin caught."

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Billy Bathgate - E. L. Doctorow
"...'the lam' suggested to most people someone running by night and hiding by day when really what it is is the state of being invisible; if you don't run and you don't hide and you are on the lam then you are there all the time, you are simply controlling people's ability to see you and that is a very potent magic. Of course you do it by waving dollars over the air, you wave a dollar and you are invisible."

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"'Create something beautiful, or life is meaningless."

"'Loneliness can make magicians of us, not to mention prophets.'"

"'...every portrait is in some sense a self-portrait, as every self-portrait is a portrait.'"

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"Do you believe that the actor on the stage is really a villain? Let me ask you something else. If he isn't a villain, then is he a liar?"

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Excerpt from "Clever figures lie in wait"

"Clever figures lie in wait
for the innocent weaver
of the soul's cloth."

"This book wants to ride"

"This book wants to ride
its hands to another stop.
Why stop?
Why go on?
Why fill the cardinal's
poplar with rain,
or the strain of its cleaving?
The thorough green
lies brown on the beech.
Every signature of presence
has been correlated
with the fleshy desire
of the map we left behind.
Who will quarrel
with the lexicon of need?"

Excerpt from "Age has given us map"

"I lean into your hair,
and whisper
that I have seen a solitary
where once there were trees."

"Those who thoroughly bed"

"Those who thoroughly bed
the estuary
the value of relation,
the inflection and formal
water knows
from air.
everything consists
in the determinate word,
the order of one, two, three;
no tricky exclusion concerns us—
not here, not ever.
Can I say I am
an island
where every moment submits
to an articulation
of a banyan tree
and Gaelic letter
on an ancient page?
These are canonical hours.
And this looks like the particle
we have cudgeled into being.
At times like this,
you might hear the lyrical Khepera,
and see the frugal light
of another sun
that articulates
the river.
It is too soon to say
if blindness
is the innocent gift
of strangers."

Excerpt from "Six on Six: The Dilemma of the Raised Sixth"

"I need death
to figure the dance."

Excerpt from "Cafe talk adorns"

"Love invents our bodies' devices,
moment to moment, or
instant to eternity,
begins the fragmentary
that speaks of unacknowledged

"Who would envision"

"Who would envision
the counter fugue
of twilight,
or the incidental music
that comes when death
sounds its leading tone?
No iambic figure
stirs the worship of absence,
but you will hear
the melismatic advance
of the perfect solitude."

Excerpt from "Now night is all"

"I tie you to the adequate
measure of night,to the flighty
day,to love's formal evasion,
the capable, shaping water
of intelligible absence.
If night is all."

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"Odors have a power of persuasion stronger than that of words, appearances, emotions, or will. The persuasive power of an odor cannot be fended off, it enters into us like breath into our lungs, it fills us up, imbues us totally. There is no remedy for it."

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"Goofing Again"

"Goofing again
I shifted weight the wrong way
flipping the plank end-over
dumping me down in the bilge
& splatting a gallon can
of thick sticky dark red
italian deck paint
over the fresh white bulkhead.
such a trifling move
& such spectacular results.
now I have to paint the wall again
& salvage only from it all a poem."

Excerpt from "Cold Mountain Poems"

"Who can leap the world's ties
And sit with me among the white clouds?"

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Bluets - Maggie Nelson
"71. I have been trying, for some time now, to find dignity in my loneliness. I have been finding this hard to do.
72. It is easier, of course, to find dignity in one's solitude. Loneliness is solitude with a problem."

"When I was alive, I aimed to be a student not of longing but of light."

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"'Life is pain,' his mother said. 'Anybody that says different is selling something.'"

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The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
"I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it's crazy, but that's the only thing I'd really like to be."

"Don't ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody."

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Arc: Volume 1 - China Mieville, Neal Stephenson, Margaret Atwood, Bruce Sterling, Kim Stanley Robinson, M. John Harrison, Alastair Reynolds
"The point of invisibility is to fail."

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Deepstep Come Shining - C.D. Wright
"Beautiful things fill every vacancy"

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No Country for Old Men - Cormac McCarthy
"If the rule you followed brought you to this, of what use was the rule?"

"When I came into your life your life was over. It had a beginning, a middle, and an end. This is the end."

"You never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from."

"I always thought when I got older that God would sort of come into my life in some way. He didn't. I don't blame him. If I was him I'd have the same opinion about me that he does."

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Favorites of 2015:

Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer - Steven Millhauser

Homer and Langley - E.L. Doctorow

Arc d'X - Steve Erickson

The Country Between Us - Carolyn Forché

Gathering the Tribes - Carolyn Forché

Given Sugar, Given Salt - Jane Hirshfield

Music's Mask and Measure - Jay Wright

Camp Concentration - Thomas M. Disch

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