Creatrix 35 Poetry

December 2016

Selectors: Peter Jeffery OAM and Jan Napier
Submissions Manager: Wendy Beach

CONTENTS

debarnes

Picasso And Time
Reminiscence

Wendy Beach

Sea Widow’s Sonnet

Lana Bella

Dear Suki: Number Twenty-Four
Tourniquet

Kaye Brand

Together

Mar Bucknell

Untitled

Sue Clennell

In Defense Of Lies
When I Am dead

Gary Colombo De Piazzi

Recycled

Margaret Ferrell

Winter

Kevin Gillam

And Still
Dust Bowl Days

Mike Greenacre

AFL Dogs Grand Final
The Caning

Jackson

The Dust-Encrusted Crush
Wet Vacuum

Ross Jackson

Questions For The Nosy Evangelist
To A Former Student

Daniel Hunter

Before Harvest

Nada Kesic

Lost Voice On The Rhine

Christopher Konrad

Oslo, December 10, 2010

A. R. Levett

Feeding Time
Illusion

I H M Lowe

Christmas Card Envy

Glad McGough

A Namatjira Canvas

Julian O’Dea

Fossil Fish Dreaming
The Young Orchard

Virginia O’Keeffe

I Never Did

Allan Padgett

Heatwave

Mike Pedrana

The Town Pool

Barry Sanbrook

Come Over

Flora Smith

Waiting

Rita Tognini

Hansel And Gretel In Australia
Louche Sonnet

Gail Willems

Calliope Lost
I Am W.A.

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Picasso And Time

Picassos hang on museum walls
he had his time his time
a time of multi-coloured madness
his tormented short-lived mind so alive
paintings unrivalled over time.
scholarly academics
publish copious papers and books
as if they were Sigmund Freud
trying to dissect him –
he strolled though the countryside of his friend
stopped to paint lilies in the field.

His old Parisian world
of stained ceilings tarnished windowpanes
lipstick smears on dead-end butts
ashtrays spilling over
blood-red wine stains and leftover
bread crumbs on tables.
A clock ticks and ticks telling time
the night’s discussions and revellers depart
the door closes for another night
another time in time.

outside they walk past the drunk
sprawled in the sidewalk gutter
paper bottle still held in his hand
water spilling round past him down the drain
is it his time – time is irrelevant
there is no time, at this point in time.

Picasso hangs ageless
like this World.

debarnes

Reminiscence

Another autumn —
I drive down Mount’s Bay Road
along the Swan;
trees that only a week ago were summer-green,
have suddenly become a symphony
of rusts and yellows.

As a child
and as a man, autumn was always
my favourite;
a season of colour, a warm sonata treasured.
Yet now it seems to me
the saddest of times:
a prelude to the inevitable.

I drive through traffic, interspersed
Matilda Bay, and the boatshed subsist, tied
to the elements, reflections stilted,
shadowy.

A few
resilient swimmers
are at Cottesloe Beach.
I sit on the grass, my back to the wall
watching seagulls
soaring overhead on wings,
that sweep through endless seasons.

It’s Saturday, tomorrow, and then
Sunday again;
it fills me with reminiscence,

a windswept sorrow – –

 debarnes

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Sea Widow’s Sonnet

Too far this pale gown of my grief does trail
Too close upon my flesh the stained veil clings
Too high the waves, low the seas that prevail
And bay, and call, like grim-faced, walrus kings.
Too soon this bouquet is a drowning wreath
Too late this gold ring, mooring my sorrows
Strands me, a wreck on an uncrowned reef
Left in the cold for all my tomorrows.
Let those who linger on the distant shore
Waste not their borrowed time in tears of woe
But keep in mind my love forevermore
On a tall ship sailing in dawn’s first glow.
For in death my love shall be as in life
Wed to the teal sea, and not to his wife.

Wendy Beach

Sea Widow’s Sonnet was Highly Commended in the 2016 Talus Prize for poetry

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Dear Suki: Number Twenty-Four

Dear Suki: North Carolina, May 3rd,
slippery motes of a memory effaced
your monarch flight into my waking
hours, where I remembered us ever
and always like this, insomniac with
you fluting over me, auspicious and
green. At some point, tiers of sunlight
sewed up the champagne sky, surren-
dering to a rockfest of unapologetic
swallows. Even as the world grew side-
ways while we grew life with curtains
on window panes and porcelain tiles
over bathroom floor, I arched toward
you for refuge, hand stripped malachite
off the mountains, slopes from rising
grounds, and lakes that freeze at winter.

Lana Bella    

Tourniquet

December wind coasts
parallel to the girl below it.
Above, a lattice of night sky
stirs open with heaven’s ateliers,
like a bed of reeds hosting
well-fed drove of birds.
When the world is reduced to
wet risk of starling and folk tales,
she walks the blue of water
with rear-length starless hair,
speech becomes lips and tongue
on the ladder of erstwhile air.
In her scavenged dream,
the lay is always a tourniquet
sealed with iodine, homeopathic
myrrh, granting her violent joy
a crossing—like a breath
withheld until gasped.

Lana Bella 

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Together

Together we live
Nurturing clarity and colour

Together we grow
Colouring grey and gold

Together we create
Unifying despite differences

With our nemesis
Wondrous images of light

            Kaye Brand

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Untitled

1965
Warlpiri country
sixteen-year-old Julari
tells the first white man she meets
that her favourite food
is pussycat

Mar Bucknell

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In Defense Of Lies

You go through the playground
with a giant fib as a shield,
maybe about parents not divorced,
maybe about what you have
for tea in a poor house,
maybe to tell the teacher
you’ve had breakfast.
Fibs to yourself,
that your father came home last night.
Sometimes fibs are the most
powerful weapons
in a child’s battle to be normal.

Sue Clennell

When I Am Dead

When I am dead
like dust from Africa
blows over Greece,
so my soul will soar over yours
and I will laugh
because I now know the secrets
of the universe.
I will ask Douglas Adams or Galileo,
and  they, of course,
will want to show off their newly
gained knowledge,
old gossips that they are.
I will ask JFK did Marilyn
die a natural death, and
Henry VIII if he has any regrets?
Was Elizabeth Ist really a virgin?
And what does Napoleon think
of always being called short?
I’ll go right back to Eve
and boy, will I ask a few things there.
I guess I’ll find out that men are not|
really so different to women.
All this, and more, I will know
when I am dead.

Sue Clennell

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Recycled

Wasteland of abandoned chairs
and coffee tables sunk into sublime
cupboards and old bed ends
where recycled dresses up abandoned.

Fossicking fingers sift
burnished and grubbed remnants
of those too quick to discard.
Aunty Joan’s anonymous relic

with the Chinese rip off
and Uncle Tom’s tools
blunt and dinged, pale against
thin chromed cheap imports.

And out back, an abattoir
of white goods, stripped, chopped
bundled for scrap in the slow turn
from new to beyond repair.

Nothing lasts and young couples
expect the latest, the fastest.
Never making do as recycle
is thrust by ad men

to save the planet,
stave off global warming.

Gary Colombo De Piazzi

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Winter

north

A cloud of white breath
bruises ice on the window.
Frost stiffens grass
yet snowdrops shelter mosses.
Slip of sunlight,
a melt of frozen puddles.
Trees bare, waiting;
grey space weaves between branches.
Temperature rises
brings snowflakes, slow and large –
drifting a white silence.

south

A storm growls in
from the Indian Ocean.
Wind wails, rain whips
windows, but next day a high
tears clouds to show blue,
lucent sky. Surfers tower
waves, pavements sprout
café tables, owners serve
lattes,  tagliatelle and smiles
Air crackles with chatter
as sun warms.

Margaret Ferrell

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And Still

if we sleep. sleep forward. sleep back. back
to some bruised now. and if word and
dream don’t meet. don’t fit. like jig and

saw. and if we wake. wake spooned. spooned
and two. two but in haunt. haunt of
each. and yes, call it ash. call it

fugue. yes, we may be mooned. may be
burnt. may be broke. but then we sky.

rob a cloud. sense when. and if we
give. give to rouse of swell. then we
are tugged. tugged and flung. and if we’re

wind. then salt. and swept. and if we
are found. one palm cupped. cupped and held.
and if we’re curled. then we’re shell. and still

Kevin Gillam

Dust Bowl Days

it was in April I believe,
on a Sunday. Frankie was

on the veranda, chewing
has ‘baco, spitting and

staring, staring into nothing.
“see how spotty that wheat is

out there?” my eyes take in
swathes of rippling stubble.

“well that short stuff shouldn’t be
brindled like that.” “Drought turns 18”.

that was the header of the
weekly rag. our eyes meet.

“these are dust bowl days”. a gob
of his spit folds in gravel

Kevin Gillam

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AFL Dogs Grand Final

Leaving wasn’t easy.
A piece of my heart will stay
with her all our days.

Once back from the Game
trivialities of life
hound my every move.

If it’s not weeding
it’s vacuuming. My resolve:
Every dog has his day.

Mike Greenacre

The Caning

I remember that cane
whistling down on the outstretched hand
like a sniper’s bullet   suddenly there
to greet the moments of pain.

One, two before I knew
it’s intention clear
as the flesh bleeds
from the crack of more.

The next time   the sound was gone
no outstretched hand or evil-eyed
Satan powering over me,
as I stood back  and said ‘no’.

‘Good on you!’ my brother grinned
from more than forty years on,
at the time I wasn’t to know
this act would be my final blow.

Leaving I was good at
words can’t hold back teenage verve,
but I still remember that cane
and the power we shared.

Mike Greenacre

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The Dust-Encrusted Crush

Unlike you, kid,
she says,
he never did anything —
just kicked balls
and chased rabbits

At 12 I watched him, 15,
tossing hay off the flatbed —
tanned deltoids,
torn singlet,
low-slung jeans,
calling to the cows

I never got to touch
his dull white scars
or hear his
baby cry

His was the cry of the power tool —
the diamond saw dividing a brick,
the rotating driveshaft sticking out of the back
of the tractor, the three-point linkage

I wrote him imaginary letters,
the dull white voice of the paper
flickering in my hands

Last time I saw him
I was 29 and married
The dust-encrusted crush
shook itself off,
rose and swirled in my head
like a ghost violin,
but there was nothing
we could talk about
Like she said
he’d kicked balls
and chased tails

The door with its old brass hook
where once I’d hung
my cowy heart
stayed shut.

Jackson

Wet Vacuum

Did you ever dream
you were suckling?
I did, once.

A mouth filled
with the breast —
not my mother,
not Gillian:
the breast

A mouth filled,
inner skin
lined with skin,
a mouth, an I,
I, an I,
space filled
with a firm cushion
sealed in by my
wet vacuum,
moulded, changed by my
action

They weaned me at nine
months
Onto a cup
No more wet vacuum
No more
changed by my action
No more
inner skin lined with skin

What a good girl
Look how grown-up our
girl is

After that I sucked my own
thumb
It has a hard centre
It gives no milk

Jackson

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Questions For The Nosy Evangelist

when I die
after I’ve been born again
may I still visit old bookshops
will there be little corners of paradise
where I may sit and read, or just be propped like an angel
against barely stable shelves, slowly becoming more perfect whilst smelling books
but taking up little space in that place at the top of a wooden ladder, my unfortunate
prior life
a story only for God to discover, wouldn’t you agree?

Ross Jackson

To A Former Student

The tender coincidence. Both of us being there
at that launch, of all places.
Unrecognisable after 30 years,
a married name, so I’d not have guessed.

Might have kept your identity to yourself,
not mentioned your regrets.
Most surprising
your ready contrition.
My easy forgiveness, almost a grace.

A month later,
dinner table TV documentary,
bitchy schoolgirls
darting their wretched teacher.
An impotent bull bleeding.
Memories. Ah.

You, 15, even then
the ice cliff of your intellect.
Steel tipped darts of sarcasm.
My reddening back.
Knife and fork in hand, I might
have opened up your face.

Ross Jackson

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Before Harvest

little brown birds squabble over the veneer of vegetation left clinging
to fence lines and tracks
a crow caws perched on a strainer post
whilst a brown falcon sits on a lone stag observing

machines with bowed axels and oversized bodies
begin to lumber up the road seeking new fields to devour
vehicles grudgingly trail behind weaving back and forth
like a bulls tail swishing flies away on a hot summers day
drivers waiting impatiently for a chance to pass the slow moving beast

snakes in shiny new suits bask on the side of the track
absorbing heat muscles stiff and bellies hollow from winter
reptilian love obvious as bobtails chasing each other across gravel roads
the bond self evident with surviving bobtails pining near skittled partners

a collection of weary round granite boulders sit on a hill
though not quite a hill more of a hump
emerging through a carpet of not quite green
but not yet wheat fields
no hint of the ochre suppressed beneath

the carpet becomes overwhelming as the eye travels from
horizon to horizon only interrupted by other lonely collections
of weary boulders on humps
and the veneer following tracks and fence lines

Daniel Hunter

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Lost Voice On The Rhine

Fragments
of language
lyrical
clipped
some harsh
unknown.

None my own.

Fragments
of emotions
caught in mid-stream
in contemplation.

A moment
of elation bound in joy.

Fragments
surround me
my head spins
I’m in overload
moving into lanes
between nations
lost
with no sound
of my own.

Nada Kesic

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Oslo, December 10, 2010

Empty chair: all of a sudden    empty chair in Oslo
Disappears from the Net
Disappears like Lidice
Disappears like Liu Xiaobo    empty seat
Lidice too        erased in one night
Street names    villages                        in honour named: Lidice

Yet how full an empty chair can be
Millions of party officials dying to crown it king/emperor/Chairman
How full an erased town

When I have learnt this then the chair is not empty
Is not     is I        am it         am not           am
This empty chair

Christopher Konrad

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Feeding Time

Webbed feet patter
across canvas umbrellas
ringed eyes fixate
on dishes piled
with crispy golden slivers.
A table clears
swarms of white and grey
feathers flutter,
red beaks screech for
crusts, crumbs, morsels.
The swiftest few
fly to lofty perches
beaks clutching treasure,
others arch their backs
squawk indignation.

A. R. Levett

Illusion

A sparkling merry-go-round
horses bobbing up and down
sunshine music jingles
fairy-floss and ice-cream all.
Her loving words
suggest a bond
but my shy approach
is met with wrinkled nose.
Paint peels from the carousel
horses’ reins hang limp
each spin emits a rusted squeak
the music crackles.

A. R. Levett

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Christmas Card Envy

These people with dozens of cards strung across their living room,
pegged on tinsel in the hall like washing
strung in the windows row upon row.
And me with my five cards, three from real estate agents.

Because I didn’t keep in touch with everyone I ever knew
with a one liner greeting per year.

Because I pushed too many unions to the edge
or squeezed them to oblivion.

The air spoilt, it was too late to be polite.
And who sends yuletide greetings to the honest?

I H M Lowe

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A Namatjira Canvas

Brushstrokes

smooth as nested egg
paints in the pale-blue sky

hyperbole of colour dipped
from Van Gogh’s emoting art wrought palette
brush in the blood-red, barren ancient land

a sentinel – feet studded in the ground,
–          once a vibrant living tree
now, paralysed by time –

is now a stark-white spectre
with brittle arms awry
its gnarled, clawing fingers, clutching at the sky . . .

Carking crows fly high
defiant of their fate – the same as that
they rest upon, the living shall be dead.

The fierce furnace of the sun
reflect the end of living things
ensures a private gallery

So here’s a place I often come
in mind’s eye to take a rest
A memory from passing,
on a trip to east from west.

Glad McGough

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Fossil Fish Dreaming

The rain wets the outcrops
darker grey and fills the gullies
with silty water rushing past
where fossil fish lie dreaming
deep in the rocks of being
finned and loosed again in
waters older than the land.

Julian O’Dea

The Young Orchard

The wind blows hard through
the young orchard of his life;
he sets his face against it
and wrinkles begin to wither
the smoothness of the face
we gave him, etching lines
he will take through life, long
after we are gone. 

Julian O’Dea

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I Never Did

you never laid a finger on my skin
but you told me that i wasn’t good enough
you told me that i didn’t quite fit in
and that other girls were prettier, more buff
but you never laid a finger on my skin
funny how those words cut down to my bones
sharp as pointed knives slicing home
and you told me, and you told me
to stop being me
but you never laid a finger on my skin.
You told me that i needed to lose weight
you told me that my hair should be straight
you told me not to wear this dress or that
and you told me that i sang off key but hey
you never laid a finger on my skin
funny how i have scars all over me
that my heart is bruised
my eyes can barely see
and i wear these burdens like a broken thing
but you never laid a finger on my skin.
no you never laid a finger on my skin.

Virginia O’Keeffe

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Heatwave

It hurts my head
that light travels at 300,000

kilometres per second.
It hurts my head
to imagine being at both
the starting post
and the finishing line
of such a bolt.

Meanwhile, a beam of light
arrives from the sun,
a mere 150 million kilometres to our west
or east or north or south.
Whatever, it is a long way
but a photon discharged from its blistering surface
rockets through the vacuum
that binds us
in eight minutes and twenty seconds.
It is here before we know it –
and as it lands on my arm I feel
it with my eyes.

The temperature of the sun’s photosphere
is around 5,500 degrees celcius
in the chromosphere only 4,300
and in the plasma-stream spitting
corona –
in the order of two million degrees.
It hurts my head.

It is only 9 am in Perth
on 16 January 2016
and already 32 degrees Celsius –
but it feels like 110.

I am itching all over as waves of photons
hit my twitching skin.
Meanwhile, I think it’s time for a corona
followed by a bex and a good lie down.
It’s just too much, far too much.

Allan Padgett

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The Town Pool

saturdays are built for children.
we would meet with our $2 smiles
and group under the shade of the gum trees at the town
pool.
animated with immaturity and coated in skinny legs and shove and push
hearts we bonded away from the grey corridors of a sheepish school.
the black kids are doing backflips and chasing each other
in frenzy,
ignoring the adults who a like cadavers or tourist white seals.
all except mr bauer,
who runs the pool without expression as we
give him our 5 cent piles for candy.
Behind the toilet block
we cup our parents cigarettes from him,
coughing into our towels from its disaster as the sentinel
flanked on the pavement
motions to hush the give away noise.
we become fools to the tiny breasts of classmates
who ignore us in their red carpet saunter.
ganged together like an orgy of gallant octopi ,
we army soldier our boyish
dare and
push each other into the
citadel of their snobbery,
the youth of our smudged ice-cream faces
walled from the insult of turned backs.
the country heat herds us into the
cool diamond depth of the town pool,
and we,
splash happy and teasing,
too lazy to urinate anywhere else.
sometimes the wind goosebumps the
flesh that stands at height above the water and
so we tread within it,
our shinny heads all apple bobbed
and sun blotched.
exhausted,
and confectionary spent,
we spread our meatless bodies onto the hot concrete
that burns an almost cruel heat.
heads rested on folded arms
and bellies red but lizard dry.
we all agree its time to
go home to our empty houses.
as we rise,
the wet shape of our bodies are left outlined
on the concrete.
slowly the outline of it
is drunken up by the radiant heat,
we stand in silence as we watch it disappear,
all fading away without control,
like the childhood
we never thought
we would lose. 

Mike Pedrana

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Come Over
______ After viewing Francis Bacon “Study for a Self Portrait”, 1976

The distorted spirals of me
with contorted limbs
melt into the floor
as though resin had melted
and I seep away
drained and exhausted.
I sit precariously,
boxed in,
my grey world
surrounding me
as I watch
looking at reflections of myself
through eyes half closed.
I gaze in horror at my image
a twisted aberration
of a portrait of a man
after his melt down.
My friend, the black dog licks at me,
he is close, far too close,
I try to push him away
but he returns with his urgent message
his consoling whimpers
begging me to go over.

Barry Sanbrook

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Waiting

My neighbour
is wellness, well-rounded.

A woman waiting
soft, slow moving
knowing readiness.

Removed from us,
she knows the day
and the day’s business

are taken care of
by her gentle husband
wise-woman mother.

They attend to the world
while she awaits a call
smiling, shining

the great life inside
lighting her world
from within.

She and the new life
are whole and at peace
each with the other

and all she need do
is to wait.

Flora Smith

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Hansel And Gretel In Australia

There was no rehearsal
as in the old tale.
Father took us straight to the witch
left us in the school room
decorated with words
enticing as gingerbread.

Not speaking our tongue
she fed us her language.
Hungry for meaning
we gorged that lexicon
grew fat on her vernacular.

Then she let us out to play
sure we would not stray
to the forest
see the bones
of our discarded speech
shining in moonlight
follow them
back to the house

of our mother

tongue.

 

Rita Tognini

This poem was commended in the Peter Cowan Writers Centre 2015 Glen Phillips Poetry Prize Competition.

Louche Sonnet
____
For Julie

This is a sonnet without stays,
one of unlaced corsets, crumpled, half-discarded
underskirts, black stockings in disarray
on floors.  Of half-sipped absinthe in glasses
near the bed.  This is a sonnet
that recalls the wild bohemian days
of fin de siècle Paris, when Renoir and Monet
danced Seine-side with muses young and gay,
and Degas spied, sketched and painted
his little dancing girls (he couldn’t do that now
and keep his genius and career untainted);
or in top hat, frock coat, necktie and sans Frau
frequented ballet and Bois  with friend Lautrec,
promenaded courtesans and horses, did what the heck.

Rita Tognini

  1. Bois de Boulogne – large public park in Paris, which was a popular meeting and promenading place for people of all classes in the late 19th century and contains Paris’ main horse race track, the Hippodrome de Longchamp.

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Calliope Lost 

I’ve lost the sound
held down and choked
by static

light bleeds music
marches over flames tempered
too cold to contemplate

other times I’m stranded by the silences
as exemplastic imagination
flattens into full stops

______________ but worse is the white space
______________ an uncoiling labyrinth
______________ twisting writhing

a mad geometrical complexity
the Castiliam spring
deletes the carved wrinkles
of my Calliope

Gail Willems

I Am W.A.

I read the scents of air like spars of sun
that swing in light and shadow on the wind
banksias flirt parrots skim cut and run
Swan river bends, edges grassed and sequined.
Benzene perfume sniffed across the highway
unseen it bleeds a darkness on the land
a spectre of the future where once lay
wild silence braced against the wind blown sand.
Waltzing up the incline of dry cheekbones
I unstitch night and loosen all the stars
untie the tides, their curl and crash long known
as night music, hums deep through traffic scars.

Long ago this Land stored power in daydreams
now Spirit woman mourns earths wounded streams.

Gail Willems

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