"I am hearing poetry when awake, dreaming poetry when asleep, breathing poetry with each breath, I am living in a poem."

Friday, December 23, 2016

Untitled (Spoiler)

A clean sweep,
dirty tongued lies
dust panned
into a book.

Grand gets grimed
by fiction sold as truth.
He’s not half of the whole
his billfold bought.

The writer’s a ghost
The words are black
The spine will only hold
until the fiction rots.

©Susie Clevenger 2016
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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Nest of Spring

I hold this nest of spring
where sky wraps wings
and wonder if the child
I carry in my womb can fly
free of the cage a dogmatic world
is already building for him.

 ©Susie Clevenger 2016

Real Toads ~ The Tuesday Platform
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Sunday, December 18, 2016

Last Eve of Empty Tongues

“So this is Christmas and what have you done?” John Lennon

A starless night, an empty moon,
another 365 days around the sun,
and love is a tea light flame
trying to burn a hole in heaven.

Silent night sings from lips
stamped with a tradition that
pantomimes peace for pageantry
while a child’s cry in Aleppo goes unheard.

In a season of a manger, a savior,
the land of plenty chooses
a Christmas tree battle over greetings
instead of simply treasuring words of good will.

As the world burns on the last eve
of empty tongues, tomorrow prepares
to raise its voice of peace to prepare
hands and hearts to silence war.

©Susie Clevenger 2016


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Saturday, December 17, 2016


Lalamilty ties boredom
with itchemis bows
so can’t will get a rash
and fingers will scratch
scars into no.

She doesn’t like don’t
and she sneers at won’t.
If a rhambangle can climb
the pickimous tree
on only one knee,
 then spoiled children can walk
where the snardiffanous squawk.

So she passes out socks
to protect toes from rocks,
and puts tryhardous candy
right where it is handy.

With a whistle through a thistle
she marches tiny feet that balk
through purple gigglemist stalks.

When the very last whimper turns into a song
Lalamilty tells the wee ones they now belong
to the Wizardlet Order of Rhambangle Strong.

©Susie Clevenger 2016

This makes more sense than politics. :)

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Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Song Of Father's Shoes

A poor boy’s song
sings from my father’s shoes
in strains of hunger and rock soil.

The lyrics of a church hymn
play across scuffed leather
where a young boy stood tall
to reach Jesus in harmony
with his mother’s voice.

Tightly tied shoe laces try
to fill the gap between moving on
and the pain of a motherless child
watching six feet of dirt separate
him from the warmth of gentle arms.

My father’s shoes are an empty nest
where secrets roost and tears never dry.
I talk to the ghosts, who linger there,
but silence eats each bread crumb I drop
until unanswered questions erase footprints
that will never lead me home.

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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Suitcase Thinking

I am packing my suitcase
with more than I need,
and less than I know.

It is hard dressing for tomorrow
when today is still tied to my shoelaces.

Weather reports attempt
to fortune tell how many
raindrops will drown concrete.
It could be a downpour of drizzles.

I am planning for cold, but the sun
could deny winter’s freeze and
have me sweating in sweaters.

I am a pessimistic optimist,
thinking the worst while
planning for the best.

Everything fits when the zipper zips.
My suitcase is packed with more
than I need and less than I know.

 ©Susie Clevenger 2016

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Sunday, November 27, 2016

Sweet Tooth Season

In the sweet tooth season my family’s iron skillet
transformed into a raisin black moon
dusted with sugared apple stars.

A song of grandmothers’ sang through my mother’s spoon
in cinnamon dust notes and yellow butter sun
until the melody of ancestors would reach the final note, “enough.”

Apple scented thoughts of ladder climbs
to reach heavy fruited limbs, wicker baskets, harvest,
promised growling tummies honest labor brought rewards.

On the crescendo of giggle questions mother
extinguished the sun beneath our iron skillet moon,
and dropped apple blessings into bowls even heaven wished to taste.

 ©Susie Clevenger 2016

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Sunday, November 20, 2016

I'm No Dorothy

Dorothy skipped
her way to OZ
with her feet
buried in Kansas.

It will take a few more
city lights before I can dance
the memory of sunflowers
from my heels.

Gossip keeps opening a diary
truth is never allowed to erase.

©Susie Clevenger 2016

Photographer ~ Alfred Cheney Johnston

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Friday, November 18, 2016


Hold on to me
Don't let me go
Who cares what they see?
Who cares what they know?
Your first name is Free
Last name is Dom
We choose to believe
In where we're from

Man's red flower
It's in every living thing
Mind, use your power
Spirit, use your wings



When predators rattle cages
freedom’s prey sharpens its cause.

Street cats fighting white sheets
are multiplying faster than the
orange peal demagogue
piss staining civil rights.

The clowder can’t be lured
to eat poisoned meat
or nibble on lies to make peace.

A rainbow howl has more volume
than the thin lipped screeching
of raptors spewing hate.

©Susie Clevenger 2016

Clowder : a group or cluster of cats

Real Toads ~ Music With Meow

To answer Jim's question I have never participated in a riot nor would I. I have participated in peaceful protests and stood up to the bullying of an uncle who was a member of the KKK and The American Nazi Party when he verbally attacked me about the religion and race of my friends. 
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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Dropping A Match

She lights a cigarette,
smokes a few dreams,
and grinds ashes
on the glass ceiling.

Close isn’t close enough,
but dropping a match
into stubborn throats
will keep the bonfire growing.

Wound tight in a man’s world
she collects loose ends to braid rope
so the girls who follow won’t lose their way.

For every struggle another star earns her light.
While masculine energy huddles around coins,
she rallies women to rise and fracture glass.

©Susie Clevenger 2016

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Sunday, November 13, 2016

Where Butterflies Pray

Yesterday’s cart of sorrows
disappears with the last evening star
as sunrise welcomes me into its halo
of psalms radiating a new day into my spirit.

Nesting where the butterflies pray
hope anoints my broken hallelujah
with the truth love still grows where thorns gather.

Peace sings in a bird wing choir
and I add my voice to the chorus,
“Today is too swift with its hours
for my lips to only offer pain.”

©Susie Clevenger 2016

Image: Pixabay

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Thursday, November 10, 2016

Sticky Note Conversion

August ‘83 brought a devil in a hurricane
and the church keeps singing amen.

Heroine evangelist hopped the gravy train
with a sticky note conversion lip synced
with words stolen from a dead brother’s life.

Don’t air the truth in public....shhhhh
We have a billboard revival and
a Papa Sam mentor teaching Junior
how to change tears into cash for a new suit.

Some lies never die if they keep paying for the show.
Add another chorus to the hurricane hymn,
but the sand will shift when truth spills from the right tongue.

©Susie Clevenger 2016

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Tuesday, November 8, 2016

My Last Give A Damn Note

In this place of old crows
I wear my peacock smile
while I pluck their tongues
from my feathers.

In the downbeat of my own drum
I play my last give a damn note.
Opinions nest on dead limbs.
My wings fly where there’s no winter.

©Susie Clevenger 2016

Image: Gloria Swanson ~ Photographer ~ Alfred Cheney Johnston

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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Autumnus Mortem

Orange crumbled into brown
until October couldn’t
breathe beyond the frost.

Death’s autumn carnival
surrendered its tent
to the north wind.

Sunlight stares at matchstick limbs
and imagines splashes of green, robins’ nests,
and tulip colors painting earth’s breast.

©Susie Clevenger 2016

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Monday, October 24, 2016

Answer Night

Photo ~ Ziegfeld Girl ~ Alfred Cheney Johnston

Answer night-
Where is the dream-
Where is the sigh-
Where is the nightingale?

Ah, said night-
Where is the beam-
Where is the cry-
Where is the sun’s sail?

Whining sapphire, said the sun-
Where is the rainbow-
Where is tomorrow’s heart-
Where is the morning glory?

Siblings, said the morning glory-
Where is destiny’s bower-
Where is the gift of hours-
Where is love given sight?
Here-said Cupid’s arrow-

©Susie Clevenger 2016

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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Where Music Lost My Name

"That long black cloud is comin' down
I feel I'm knockin' on heaven's door."
Knockin' On Heaven's Door ~ Bob Dylan

The drum’s drummin’
the trumpet’s playin’
The choir opens its hymnal
to the page where music lost my name.

I feel I’m knockin’ on heaven’s door,
but the Holy Ghost won’t use his key.

There’s a whole lot of damnin’
in the preacher’s hollow hallelujah.
Wine pourin’ from an unholy glass
into the test I couldn’t pass.

Another chorus of Hell Can Have Her
rocks the blood stained revival.

A long black cloud is writing my name.
I feel I’m knockin’ on heaven’s door,
but the Holy Ghost won’t use his key.

©Susie Clevenger 2016

Tulsa Oklahoma's Tulsa University Helmerich Center for American Research will permantly house a 6,000 + Bob Dylan Collection. Once it is archived it will be available for public viewing. 

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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Boneyard Of Procrastination

A tea stained sunset
peers through my window
at a desk littered with frantic.

Each book, paper, magazine
held its priority for the brief second
it took me to place it among
mismatched intentions.                                

As shadows claim another day
I stare at the boneyard of procrastination
and my eyes fill with tears of answered prayers.

Tomorrow, my spirit sings tomorrow.
Fear ceases to bully hope.
The mess scattered before me
no longer is the altar where
agony built its nest.

©Susie Clevenger 2016

Real Toads ~ The Tuesday Platform
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Sunday, October 16, 2016

Bright Apple Cider Days

Oh October, you like to tease,
dress in bright apple cider days
painted orange, red, and yellow.

When I converse with you I ignore the signs
of the browning to come; the bleak bones
you will leave to tattoo blue sky.

Walking through your rattle whispers
I pretend winter can’t freeze your
swaying dance or drain the festival from your cheeks.

October, we are spirit sisters dressed
in sun flames collecting moments
ice can never steal or dull into lead penciled memories.  

©Susie Clevenger 2016

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Friday, October 7, 2016

My Left Of Center Bleeding Heart

I’m going to polish my left of center bleeding heart,
pocket protect my copy of the Constitution,
and wade through tea-bag hallucinations
in my sensible suffragette shoes.

I won’t be dressing up to be dressed down
by words from a misogynist's lips.
Feminine energy sits on the scales
and the walls of the boy’s club are starting to crack.

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Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Bits Of The Moon

Bits of the moon fall
from a chalkboard sky
into cupped hands
eager to store wonder
in mason jars.

Giggles feed heaven
into glass as eyes twinkle
with firefly reflections.

Imagination, uninhibited
sees God in light bearing wings.

©Susie Clevenger 2016

Image created with anaRasha Brush (Shadows 2)
Canning Jar Photoshop Brushes by iamthetv
MB Firefly Brush by Morgan Burks

Real Toads ~ The Tuesday Platform
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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

More Warden Than Enamored

Dolce Far Niente ~ John William Godward, 1897

You are here, secreted beneath
rib and bone, beating against
the cage in heartbeat thumps.

I feel more warden than enamored
with a padlock around my tongue
to keep words from making a fool’s escape.

Once love is given wings
it can no longer nest in dreams.
Confession will fly the compass of truth.

©Susie Clevenger 2016

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Thursday, September 15, 2016

It Takes A Woman

There’s a whole lot of noise in final.
The grim reaper has my bones
betting on rattles and dust
while my flesh still fantasizes
about a heartbeat.

Grim stands in the corner
dressed in a black cape and
broken tooth smile looking more
like a cousin to a jack o’ lantern
than the epitome of fearful.
He’s so eager to collect a shell
he can’t see the pearl in the satin lined box.

He is pepper spraying the room with so many tears
conversations can’t rally long enough to funnel stories
about my crazy into belly laughs loud enough
to offend proper etiquette.

If death were a woman, she’d introduce herself,
clear the room of morbid, light a lavender scented candle,
and edit my sins with just enough truth
to smooth the wrinkles in my obituary.

She would borrow a bit of my sense of humor,
uncork my favorite wine, invite visitors to enjoy
the dessert buffet with a satirical one liner,
“Death goes better with chocolate.”

Lady Death would pull up a chair next
to my guilt bought over priced crate, lean down
to whisper, “I thought you wanted to burn?”
and we’d create a list of those I wanted to haunt.

 ©Susie Clevenger 2016

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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

A Bitch Carrying Stones

There’s a valley between
what she should say and
the salt she pours in wounds.

Somewhere there is sugar
to coat her tongue, the honey
of yesterday without the sting.

She’s become a bitch counting bruises.
There’s a whole lot of bitter to cross
before she learns forgiveness
carries no stones.

 ©Susie Clevenger 2016

I am leaving Thursday for Frisco, Texas to attend IndieVengeance Day 2016.
This is my third time to attend. It is such a blessing to be able to be included among such a talented group of authors. 

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Sunday, September 11, 2016

Remove The Ghost Smile

Sun that warms and lights the earth
share your gold in strands of hair.

I cry for vanity, scream at mirrors.
My head, bald as an eagle,
houses the language of Athena,
but my spirit rages at its nakedness.

Morning star burn night from scars,
restore gilded curls,  and remove
the ghost smile I lean on.

©Susie Clevenger 2016

This is for my daughter, Dawn. I have watched her face so many challenges with her health, a destructive marriage, battling setbacks to attain her college degree, but through all of it she had her beautiful hair. My poem is about her struggle when the autoimmune illness, Alopecia, took it from her.

September is Alopecia awareness month. Many people, including doctors, don't understand this autoimmune illness where your body just sheds your hair, and in my case my entire head, my eyebrows, my eyelashes and even the hair on my arms and legs. No, I don't have cancer (anymore, I am a kidney cancer survivor for almost 8 years now), but I've been dealing with hair loss for almost two years. Today, I have some blond hair growing back. I lost all my eyelashes, and they've come back in. But the truth is, I may never have a full head of hair again, or it may come back in and be really funky. OR I could have Farrah Fawcett hair.... :) What I do know is I can't hold on to the fear of living a life without hair. It's been a challenge to be sure! But....as with everything else that's happened in life...I've learned to roll with it. I am Wonder Woman, and I am a survivor. And I try to live life to the fullest, and I am forever thankful for my heroes, my loved ones, my life support. Thanks for listening to me, now go find out more about #Alopecia here:http://goo.gl/9hCHf5
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Thursday, September 8, 2016

Yesterday Breaches Chilled Walls

Selena by Albert Aublet (1851-1938)

The glow of affection
shining in your eyes
burns my skin as it
trails from lips to heart.

Summer dreams threaten
ice winking against window panes
as our bodies return to ecstasy
written in silhouettes on July sand.

January wind blows through
brittle limbs arguing it owns the moon,
but Diana debates its frosty assumption
with ribbons of heat  gifted from Luna’s veil.

Passion pulses our flesh in waves stolen
from Bali’s sea…Yesterday breaches
the chilled walls that encircle us
urging today to write its own autobiography.

©Susie Clevenger 2016

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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

When Shadows Grow Bold

In abandoned walls
where hope stores dreams
I collect words to armor
my spirit when shadows grow bold.

Dejected sheep dance
the world’s ballet of bleak,
but I refuse to dance its choreography.

I will stand on my toes
to reach for stars.
Optimism never surrenders.
It thrives in midnight light
where the tenacious
dandelion breaks stones
to bury roots

©Susie Clevenger 2016

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Friday, September 2, 2016

Crescendo of Sighs

Lust has dark humor.
The sigh of death
sings from sated bodies
oblivious sunlight
will deliver their shroud.

In the crescendo of sighs
time has no bonds nor remorse.
Heaven is thighs entwined,
notes playing along flesh,
a world without a key to intrude.

Secrets spoil, divide conscience
between vow and reality,
but in the liar’s womb tomorrow
will never demand its ransom.

©Susie Clevenger 2016

Real Toads ~ Artistic Interpretations With Margaret
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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Exhausted Moon

Solitude ~ Sir Fredrick Lord Leighton ~ 1890

An exhausted moon,
haunted by clouds
and August’s thermometer,
shines her shallow light
across my bedroom floor.

Joined in our communion
of melancholy we search
for erasers linked to lead
sharp enough to rewrite destiny.

Empathy’s drain has robbed
stars from our lanterns.
There is only so much darkness
a candle can illuminate
until sorrow burns away the wick.

Feeling another’s pain through
the thin bones of our own,
the moon and I peer toward the east
wondering how many new tears
sunlight will bring to our bell jar.

©Susie Clevenger 2016

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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Chubby Girl

Mein Kampf steams in the corner.
Ice cream melts from shame.
A chubby girl prays she remains
unnoticed between cake and sweet tea.
Saturday’s a middle child trying
to scrape memories from green plaster.
Dear Therapist, this little trip through rewind
keeps opening baggage, but doesn’t
free me of any weight.

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Thursday, August 18, 2016

Where Lullabies Die

The Shepard's Dream ~ Henry Fuseli ~ 1793

Deep behind the eyelid crawl
where lullabies die monsters
feed on the sandman’s throat.

There’s no longer a who,
a scratch or a boo, terror
doesn’t play a child’s hide and seek.

Cement streets turn to water
pulling at feet…The drowning
drink likes the taste of breath.

Melinoe knows where sunlight lives
and eats escape with dandelion thumbs
so madness can impeach reality.

Wake up, wake up wherever you are.
This is no longer that...Here is not there.
What you were is peeled from what you’ve become.

©Susie Clevenger 2016

A few notes: The part about the streets turning to water and the drowning actually came from one of my dreams. As a child and a good part of my early adulthood I was plagued by nightmares. 
Melinoe is a Greek goddess who brings nightmares and madness.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Living High In Blue

I follow notes, guitar licks,
throaty lyrics to cities
where blood is as thick as the blues.

Houston, Kansas City and Memphis
are beads on a pearl jam seducing
my spirit to travel notes pooling songs
across a mirror mottled with my own reflection.

I sit elbow to elbow
in bar stool sanctuaries
with a faithful music cult
who tithe appreciation
into a tip jar.

I’m a gypsy ribbed
with highway stripes
living high in the color blue.

©Susie Clevenger 2016

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Sunday, August 14, 2016

Mama Bee Gets Testy

If the hive steams,
the honey wanes.

Mama Bee gets testy
when her sugar
doesn’t reach the throne..

So stop all that wing flapping
stirring hot air and deliver
the goods I can turn into gold.

©Susie Clevenger 2016

I did a little research on angry bees, fascinating.

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Sunday, August 7, 2016

Not A Job Tongue

I have no plans to prepare myself
for the bleak marker in genetics
so my watchers will be comforted.

My thoughts will not spill
from a Job tongue to twist
the universe into prophetic kismet.

The sun is to bright,
music too beautiful,
poetry yet unwritten
for me to waste time
training for forgetting.

©Susie Clevenger 2016

Recently my sister, Debby, shared this TED talk with me
then gave a hearty "Hell no!" to it. I wander occasionally
through the possibility of the monster lurking in me,
but I won't dwell or prepare for the disease.

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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Every Glass Slipper Fits A Fool

A rusted padlock hangs
between my breast and ribs,
a keyless ornament once
polished by fairytales.

Every glass slipper fits a fool
who thinks lips possess resurrection,
and happily ever after comes with a map.

Quixotic eyes can go blind,
but because it is my heart
guarding unforgiving, my vision
has perfect hindsight.

In my last days of sticks and bones
romance has reached its expiration date.
opinions are spoiled fruit; wisdom
sits alone watching reruns.

©Susie Clevenger 2016

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Friday, July 22, 2016

A Half Wing Short Of Flight

I hash tag drudgery
with planned procrastination,
erase some thoughts,
put a lock on my tongue.

A half wing short of flight
I camp out in my dandelion nest
waiting for the sky to deliver a sign.

Three shadows closer to frantic
I spoon feed my spirit artificial calm
and pray patience isn’t a written exam.

Just before despondent reaches wit’s end
magic pockets its glitter to jewel
my silver lining with heartbeats of onyx.

I always thought angels wore white,
but the ones dropping at my feet looked
more like mourners in their tar feather best.

With claw and caw they plucked self pity
from my breast while admonishing,  
“Sitting won’t bring the wind’s urge to soar.”

Like a cloud stealing doom they rise to pencil the sun
with a watchman’s oath, “We’ll be your eyes
when midnight curtains your view.”

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Woman I Am

"Lend your voices only to sounds of freedom
No longer lend your strength to that which you wish to be free from
Fill your lives with love and bravery
And you shall lead a life uncommon"

Life Uncommon ~ Jewel

I am not war
I am peace

I am not division
I am unity

I am not a voice in the desert
I am the microphone

I am not chained
I am free

I am not tomorrow
I am today

I am not in a man's shadow
I am the light

I am not a token rib
I am the spine

©Susie Clevenger 2016

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Thursday, July 14, 2016

My Elpis

Drunk on sea breezes
I brush stroke my hallucinations
across a virgin canvas.

There are no streets,
no crust throated complainers,
no dreamers without vision.

A willing target of my muse’s arrow
I feel the blood letting of imagination
spill from my hand in rainbow colors.

Optimism stares back at me
bold eyed, scarred, unconquered.
My Elpis freed from Pandora’s Box.

©Susie Clevenger 2016

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