Masculinity is an old friend

Masculinity is an old friend

I don’t think it’s fair to blame
My father who wanted a son
Or society who wanted
To treat me just a little worse
In truth, masculinity fit me well

For my sister, she claimed
The feminine through force
Pressed on nails and
Eyes winged perfectly
Despite protests or 
Hollow calls against

But I couldn’t find space 
for me with that paradigm
Until talking with a friend
He unraveled the gendered
Pointed out he was just a man
Who liked “feminine things”

Until the tarot brought me
The sun and the moon
Push and pull of tides
Both held within our husks
To give and to take 
and to give again

When masculinity calls
Like an old friend, I answer
Remember times they held me
Moments they made me worse
But recollection not regret
Reminds me why 
We don’t stay in touch

Magda Nawrocka-Weekes (she/they)
Instagram: @xan6ua

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get out of my skin please

get out of my skin please

I want my crannies to nook for you
But you don’t even look 
Look;
I want my biomap fingerprints to interlock with yours 
Inexplicably the maze patterns slot in harmony
written for the other, waited two lifetimes for this chance meeting

Racing to the maze middle
I am discouraged
By your disinterest
Cheers or jeers would be preferable to this silence
I find myself the lone contender 
You are unfit to adjudicate;
Trusting the leaves on the left
They lead me out
Heart lead
Guide me to the end of desire

The heartstrings that make up my right ventricle 
You appear to have turned into a hammock
Summer months approaching
The sway pulling strings in all the wrong directions 
Transcending my corp-Reality into a grotesque puppet mimicry
More and more it swings and stings and disrupts the flow from my head
unto my toe
And it isn’t red within, there’s translucence for dinner
This I know
Because a slice of me is cut for the prizewinner 
The ones who made it to the middle grossly engorged
Their fingers ragged and wrecked from dragging through unforgiving foliage 
bloated, bursting, not seen to be sightly
Unseen in safety, for he has forgotten me
And our fingertips never even touched

But the incessant twitch that makes me dream of itching the scratch right out of my chest 
Is treated in waking like a Victorian asylum patient: tightjacket escape artists
My little lost mazerunners bravely perform their Sisyphean trope 
and I traipse about too, comfort-grasping the lighter in my pocket closer to these wistful fingerprints.

Leah De Mey (she/her)

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You almost ruined my favourite song 

You almost ruined my favourite song 

I listened to the Wombats today
Only to be taken back 
To the dimly lit parking lot behind your flat in Cowgate
Pushing me against the wall and whispering into my ear 
You say I am the best thing that you’ve ever seen 
My bare back digging into the wall but 
I could have stayed there forever 
My very own New Jerusalem

The chorus of the song I sing to day and night 
echoes from inside 
So do cheers of people playing beer pong 
They awaken us from our trance 
There’s nowhere to hide 
1,2,3, time to dance

When we enter everyone takes out their flashlights pointing them at us 
My head is in the clouds and my Converse in the gravel of the parking lot
You on the contrary 

You 
are on one knee 

I
can hear my heart breaking 

Everyone 
is cheering
 
This is all that I used to want 
And now all I can think of is
You just ruined my favourite song

The greek tragedy of all of this is 
You thought you were buying tickets 
To see a romantic comedy 
But I turned out to be your Antigone

Flash-forward and I’m walking through the all too familiar streets
As a prisoner sentenced to live my life 
On the land from which you’ve been exiled 
The smell of smoke 
From when we burned with bad intentions 
Still fills my nose 

On days like these
I write you endless poems you will 
never see

My headphones blasting that one song by the Wombats 
On repeat 
On repeat 
On repeat 

If you ever see this 
Please let me know
When you hear that song 
Do you still sing along? 

Veronika

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The Curator

The Curator

The scene has been set: museum opening,
The artist: Chinese, come to London last spring,
The decor’s exquisite, all gold and Art Deco,
Trays of canapés, tall-stemmed flutes of Prosecco,
At the room’s centre, she’s not hard to spy
With her red ruby mouth and her bright topaz eye
Head thrown back and laughing, with her hand at her neck, 
Hair a tight bob, hands with gold rings bedecked
In a fur coat and brocade (all vintage – all thrift)
Wrists jangle with bangles (Tracy Emin’s – a gift)
She’ll glide through a room like she’s riding a breeze,
Kiss and cry “My, I’ve not seen you since Frieze!”
She’ll hug and address you with “darling” and “dear”,
But don’t flatter yourself: she knows everyone here. 

She’s up at Tate or she’s down at the Met,
At Cornelia Parker’s, smoking french cigarettes,
Or out in South London, where that new Dutch film’s showing, 
Or a night out in Hackney – if Grayson Perry is going. 
Hostesses and hosts supplicate at her feet,
Beg her presence at this show or that meet-and-greet,
With her social grace, though, this isn’t so shocking,
Her sparkling wit keeps enchanted mobs flocking. 
She’ll check the black book where her diary’s kept, 
Ignore it, smile archly, then warmly accept. 

A crowd is a challenge, but she fears not the test:
For these are her people; this is what she does best.

By Levi J. Richards (he/they)
Instagram: @levijrichards and @doorajarcomics

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We are all beating

We are all beating

Walking is an something I return to a lot
I once read we walk at the rate our heart beats
And create a cacophony with the ground
That matches the organ keeping us alive
Imagine if we all would walk in step
The earth would be one huge heart
Vibrating with the beating of billions 

On walks I see a lot of leaves
Always in winter and I want to imagine
each leaf inside has a tiny heart
That pumps water and nutrients and juice
Through each capillary 

I see squirrels and pigeons and gulls
I think of their beating hearts
The continuous rhythm
That propels one squirrel on her circuitous round.

A heartbeat moves in a cycle of seasons
Offering hope when all has gone awry and
the next day is so far away
Our hearts beat steady under our skin
Invite a beginning with the end of each step
A terrible chance
To liberate the me
from my four walled room
And flex my toes and think of gravel paths
That my feet can wander.
I like to begin
fresh from the next beat
Consider
And follow each route
my heart wants me
to feel and to see
the million hearts beat
the leaves and the trees
Tug me on a thin thread
Trembling.

Hannah Udall

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a game to play when you can’t find the strength to shower

when you’re feeling down

and don’t know how to take care

of yourself, go to where they sell plants.

quiet your heart. let the smell

of their freshness fill you.

reach out and touch their leaves.

one will find you.

don’t force it to, just

let it commune with the hurt inside you.

take it home. find it a spot in the sun.

water it, feed it, nurture it, let it grow.

let it take care of you as much as you

take care of it.

by august (in the wake of) dawn

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Purple

Purple

Yellow is the warmest colour,
It crowns the buds of trees which create an ornate bower consecrating your grease and grime filled nest, 
Lying on your head,
Happiness and yellow usually reside in similar company,
But happiness with you is a deep crimson,
A thick skinned purple blotch – 
Staining my skin like a malignant bruise,
You seep into every pore, boiling my sweat so it scolds melanin,
Bleaching me to a powdery white,
Perfuming your air with the scent of burnt flesh,
Pulling my spirit into focus,
Because as I know – 
Purple is your favourite colour on me.

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(up)rooted

(up)rooted

My roots are complicated
I do not think they can be defined 
or bound to one certain place
The more I move and meet new people 
little parts of me are left around
Sown carefully and lovingly 
in places I adore
and people I care about 

I am no longer sure if I know where home is
but I am loving that life is taking me down 
an unknown road 
but an exciting one 
and I will enjoy and treasure every step of the way
Learn from the downhills 
grow stronger and kinder and caring
and cherish the uphill
knowing I am turning into the woman I was meant to be

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End (?)

I read a whole novel this morning, 

An hour before heading in. 

I did all the dishes from breakfast,

You hoovered and I did the bin.

The walk from the meeting was freezing, 

But I’d bought new gloves last time you came, 

Two people who knew me from James Joyce alone, 

Asked me about changing my name.

I’m finding it strange to be calm now,

My body’s not quite sure it’s true.

But books still surprise me and gloves are still warm,

There’s dry forks and filled forms, and you. 

By Levi J. Richards (he/they)

This poem is inspired by ‘The Orange’ by Wendy Cope. To see more of Levi’s creative work, check out @doorajarcomics on instagram.

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Middle

A young man walks across the snow,

Which creaks and breaks with every step. 

Far off, 

A grey-haired woman holds her face up 

To a sun that drips gold; 

A future, suddenly, 

Which stretches out before him —

Complexity unravels

Into sun, and face, and cold;

And benches ringed with mud, 

And time enough to grow old. 

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Beginning

Reshuffling cards on the sitting room floor,

A precious vignette – 6 seconds, no more.

Captured by luck,

On an ordinary day, 

I press play and press play and press play. 

I’m fascinated, by the way you can hear, 

Each one of our laughs – you can match us up clearly.

Like you can pick out 

Individual joys, 

A friend’s face in the crowd of the noise.

She said:

“It’s all gonna work out. D’you know how I know?’

‘Fate’s given me something too good to let go.’

So she’ll bring me back,

I know it for sure,

To the cards on the sitting room floor.

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A poem about roots (that constrain me)

CW: Sexual assault/violence

A poem about roots (that constrain me)

Why do you grip that rock there
That place in particular
It is not exceptional yet you sniff
to find the resource jackpot with little thought for my feelings.
One flaking and one green 
You are Brand new 
colonising my mind and making my forces act through different lines
Where do I lean today
On what soil do I make my stance;
hallowed ground?
I want to move yet you tell me I can’t
And they look at me funny and it is all due to you
Lost in assumption not to be talked
To but by, they see how I curl and retract 
Wishing I could fly but indelibly in contact 
with the ground of my past 
politics routine
Each little xylem strand has length running resources
to change and nourish my self.
And I regret you
Despise you
You are unsatisfactory 
For keeping me so still
Retaining my right to freedom.

I wish I could wiggle and dance.
Enact and be my dream
I steal the freedom to be who I want to be
A fairy woman at the end of a long voyage
My narratives an endless strand of silk
to wrap around your neck.
You see you would love the me
That’s exciting and proud and flamboyant
With endless presents and
pockets that bulge

I wiggle my wing rigs
and struggle to see how they care for me
grateful I should be for these life sustaining lines
for time and a past and events I can learn from
They connect me
Brushing up to me with knowledge
Drowning me in memories that
keep me so separate
I am an entity to sustain and condense
Yet not to be.

By Anonymous

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Cinnamon and saffron

Cinnamon and saffron

A dash of cinnamon and one of saffron
What does blending the two leave you with?
I am not so sure
A hybrid not tasting like one or the other
I am a mixture

Rather pale but with olive undertones 
Echoes of honey and of sweet rose syrup and mild summer nights by the Caspian sea
Meet echoes of winter sleigh rides and gingerbread dipped in hot mulled wine

They make sure to tell me that I am not one of them
Not pale enough, not dark enough
Too pale, too dark 

Oh are you sure you’re from there?
Can you really speak the language?
Your accent is very good – how come?

I must grit my teeth and say what I always say 
I belong here

I am you 

Experiencing rejection from my own makes me restless
They are all I have
But I am made to choose
In the hope that I am chosen back 
Can’t you see I’m one of you?
I dye my hair to make it less me – maybe now I can fit in?

I am uprooted and I uproot myself
I can never have enough
There is always something else for me to try
Some other soil to plant my yearning fingers into
I worry for my children
If I have any

Will they feel at peace? Will this be their norm?
Or will their discomfort be greater than mine?

A pinch of cinnamon and one of saffron

I must sometimes pull myself out of the whirlwind of sounds and smells and sensations
Take a moment to feel
To think 
Of how I have the riches of the world within one heart
How cultures mix and mingle within my blood 
How I may not belong to either one of them 
But have claim to both 

Linda

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A Bug’s Life

 A Bug’s Life

The house I grew up in has other children growing in it now,
Making memories over mine like recording over old video tapes,
Playing bandits and dress up in colourful capes.
The tree house my father built for me
Exists only in my memory.

It must be hard to be a snail.
Carrying a life on your back is a heavy load.
Take me back to a little girl with golden hair,
To number four, Parbroath road. 
So I can set down my past and leave it there,
Trusting it will be safe. 

A view from the kitchen window into another life, 
Of happy kids, and man and wife.
Like us, the trees we planted are fully grown.
The apples fell closer than we thought,
But we should have known.
Because like us the trees have roots, 
That wind like veins between drains underfoot.

But trees can be replanted,
The stability I took for granted 
Can be something I find in myself, 
Maybe after three years of healing, 
I’ve learned that home is not a place, 
It’s a feeling.

Robyn Barclay, Poetry Editor

Robyn is one of our wonderful poetry editors. Please contact her via instagram @rxbynelena if you would like to submit your own poetry to Clitbait!

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An Ode to the Slimy Things in my Sink

An Ode to the Slimy Things in my Sink

I wet my porridge pot, the king  
Of slimy things, and relinquish the responsibility  
Into the heaving sink.
The glutinous onion jam from last night’s soup 
Stares me down with shiny eyes—
I cover it with disdain, 
Creating a small volcano of sink water. 

Insidious drips pervade, 
Unnoticed but for the smell, 
but then In a couple of hours, the floor 
floods, Littered like a polluted 
beach and  
The pots and pans are floating an 
inch, The ramen from two nights past, 
Grabbing my ankles, like irate 
seaweed. The salt spills into the mix 
And I might as well be in a fetid 
ocean, Now that the mackerel, 
In various stages of decomposition  
Begin to swim up the pipes. 

A mighty gurgling is heard— 
I scramble to the kitchen table for survival 
As a slew of wet food spurts forth from the sink. The 
water is a murky shade of brine, 
The teabags are swimming in shoals, 
And I am finding myself swiftly covered In the 
reeking remains of last week’s dinner.

Flora Leask

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Do you know how fast a hedgehog runs?

Do you know how fast a hedgehog runs?

Night hangs and I, nocturnal, scout the grounds,

the hedgehog, shuffling insomnia-laden under the moon,

head among worms, I cannot see the astral dancers make their rounds,

trapped in a homeland of windswept grass and rainswept loam.

My patter a ritual, earth’s epidermis feigns a heavenly taste

yet so anti-celestial, living from night to night to night 

mired, the entanglement of root and briar and living wasted, 

ensconced in darkness, I’ve forgotten what it is to see the light.

The hedgehog senses predator, confronts her choices

tight entombment in a prickling shell, waiting for teeth,

or else to flee. Do you know how fast a hedgehog runs?

I curled so long I no longer remembered what it meant 

to live without a spiny wall, self-made sarcophagus, dark and tight.

It took the gouge of jaws to make me race away, seeking freedom, seeking light.

Clare M Coombe 

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We will hear noise, but we must listen to truth

We will hear noise, but we must listen to truth

I listen to the wind,

That rustles the leaves, and swings the trees

The voice of nature, that presides powerfully in Edinburgh.

I hear the cars, 

That haunt the cyclists, trying to pass

Through life, without further deepening nature’s scars. 

I listen to the laughter,

Revelling in that joy, that everyone is after 

I hear the strain in her voice, 

the pain that pillages her spirit and poisons her soul, with noise

Unnatural sounds, that seek to exploit and destroy 

I listen to the beats,

 that move my feet, to the rhythm of the streets

I hear her gulp and shudder

as he tells her he’ll give her a massage to recover

There is Nowhere to Runfrom the one who you believe has given you your liberation

I listen to the long unheard. 

The marginalised, those erased from history and discarded in society to the outskirts.

For it is they who are embraced by nature

And when they embrace it in turn, 

the oppression inflicted upon them can only harm the oppressors

For to be one with nature,

 is to be one with the truth of who you are. 

For you are nature, 

And such truth will heal your scars.

Rowena Nankivell 

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Personal Grit

Personal Grit

NEED ANSWERS, understanding & more
MARK the path beyond research.
To find out more Create TIES And switch OFF
The constant need to be visually rich, bright, useful and a resource for the creative
& DEPART FROM 
If ur happy PLANTING A RAINBOW
YOU CAN APPRECIATE inspiration,
>>> YOU FEEL READY TO SOW AND GROW ROOTS SHOOTS BUCKETS AND BOOTS
HELP EACH OTHER TO SURVIVE.
BUILDING HERITAGE A NEW WAY
Browse, Explore, Enjoy, ADVOCATE Live Better
YOU are a priority

Jenny Harvey 

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Hummingbird

Hummingbird 

The morning comes into consciousness
And bathes the blue-throated hummingbird in light. 

They sit, they hold.
They listen. 

For what? 
For whom?

My mind is compounded 

From the sky 
This mother voice hollers
So sickly sour
Through some orifice of heaven

For all we do 
Is dance in the rusting leaves 
Waiting for her to 
Call us inside for sup’ 
As streetlamps buzz 
And the dew and the dust 
Settle 

Am I to abide by the father’s voice? 

One that does not recognise
Why the hummingbird changes colours 
 If perhaps pink and white take their fancy 

One who is so flippant 
Omnipotent 
So potently 
Distasteful 

            Disgusted
At the ferocious ideas that unfold from under The beating wings 
Of patience personified 

Are they to give up on body, 
But not the world? 
I should not think so. 

For if we
Too 
Sit, hold, and listen  

Perhaps 
The earth will call out, 
Or reach out a hand, 
                     Bathed in light. 

Alex MacPhail 

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3am, Listen

3am, Listen

Perhaps silence is best 
Ill-planned timing 
No words 
Crafted words fall on deaf ears 
Only human 
Like a breath 
Instant heat immediately cooled 
Here then gone 
Leaving emptier words 
Tune out the noise 
Clarity [Perhaps silence is best]
Like a Breath of fresh air 
Here 
Softly unnoticed 
Leaving as it came 
Alone

Fiyin Fakunle

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Unfiltered


Unfiltered

I wonder what it would be like to truly see 
Without the bias 
Without the misconceptions and force fed perceptions 

To breathe unfiltered 
To speak unfiltered 

Simply speaking 
To be Honest 
In our words 
Our Actions 
Our lives 

I wonder why we all clamour for the past 

Its dead and us with it 
I chose Life 
Terrifying but real 
Maybe I am just a dreamer 
A lost sheep 
Or maybe 
Some Fresh Air 
Real Fresh Air 
is what we all we need 

Fiyin Fakunle

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“weird girl with gross habits”

“weird girl with gross habits”

i pull, i bite, i stretch, i claw
at the insatiable itch 
knawing at me for 14 years

my cuticles bleed 
my swollen lips pulsate 
i weave a rug with the hair from my scalp
i’m weary from holding the burden of my self-inflicted disgust
yet still, i pull and i bite and i scratch. 

every pore on my face is an endlessly fascinating black hole
examining each follicle on my head makes me feel as if i were a scientist, quietly dissecting myself  
my body is infinite 
a whole universe exists underneath my skin 
an endless garden of eden

until the spell is broken 
and i’m left mourning 
wondering why i willingly drink my own poison    
i bathe my wounds, but i bathe them with salt.

if i make peace with the itch, 
if i write a poem for her,
if i tell her she’s beautiful while i gently stroke her back
then, perhaps she will dissolve into sweet rosewater.
i bathe my wounds, but i bathe them with salt.

if i make peace with the itch, 
if i write a poem for her,
if i tell her she’s beautiful while i gently stroke her back
then, perhaps she will dissolve into sweet rosewater.

Dara Minogue

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fire, burning

fire, burning

there’s a fire that makes up my very core; raging and thrumming, it constrains yet consumes, fueling my every reason and it is the life behind my every word. those words that can so easily be laid prettily onto paper. in speaking, it is that fire creates and nurtures the venom that drips from my teeth as my sharp tongue lets loose with a snarl. 

and when i do, i snarl with due respect to that heat: a big “fuck you” to the guy-boy-imbicile that looked (looked, looked? peekedexaminedgapedstaredscrutinized) my body up and down and asked how far my legs could spread. 

it is the same fire that warms my body, and creates the heat my cool fingers slip into as they coax galaxies from my most intimate space. when walls (the sacred-divine-safe inviolable-heat) clench, i am certain it is only my fingers of which they are unwilling to let go. 

and at the end of the day you can call my beautiful words ‘vulgar’ (and maybe they are (oh, they definitely are)), but i find no need to apologize for showing my power. i like the knowledge that when i move my hand between my thighs, it is i who has the ability to touch the universe; something you could never comprehend (nor will you ever learn to understand). the fire burning in my depths does not rage and rise with the purpose to scorn only for me to allow my voice to be meek. so in the inevitable turn of events where i cut you with my words, i will never not remind you that it is those very venom-laced words that are backed by sharp heat fueled by the fire that fuels the very wild- free, heat of my coveted divinity.

Caleb Sa

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Cancer in the time of Covid

Don’t dare to go outside, my sweet lady

Although we’re just a bubble, ever-ready to burst,

You’re safe with us, I promise

I remember catching a bus a day before we would meet again

Crying, because I thought I was going to kill you,

For I had stepped into a world

Which was trying to live with covid while you have cancer.

And it feels like I can’t breathe knowing you won’t,

Between the grief-stricken gasps, gritting teeth through glaring tears

One might be assuming symptoms of that thing, when they are effects of the other

And I hate how the two interchange,

How our fear is preyed upon by them both.

What is going through your sweet head?

While I usually wear my heart on my sleeve, I stiffen up

When I see that you are guarding yours behind secret chambers,

For you’re a headstrong rationalist, a chin-up kind of woman,

But when the night has been rough to you,

And you wake up vomiting, with words I’ve never heard come from your mouth before,

That proud chin drops in your hands

And what I see before me is a scorned child with a distasteful gaze

As I try to hand you your peeled grapes or spiceless daal.

I’m sorry sad one, I feel like a terrible parent,

When we say the world outside is too big and bad for you right now,

For best intentions look so opposite

When the blue-suited baboons control what comes next.

I felt like I couldn’t offer much at first,

Helplessness hurts the most.

But I’m trying, really hard, to be your doctor,

Your friend, your mother, anything you want and need,

Even if that means at moments I have to stop being your daughter

So that I can get you to keep on being my mother.

It’s selfish, I know. And I’m sorry. 


-Anonymous

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Metamorphosis

Metamorphosis

Bloom serendipity in my hands

I’ll pretend it’s uncalled

My hands, worn out. 

Today

I’ll try to sleep before midnight 

Bloom before I wake up

Strike me in the path

where rainbow is a decorum

Spit me to the dimension,

in it, I could see time

accused with duplicity.

Bloom

into the night.

Into the night 

which fail to surge my moan into a gender spectrum

I shall not see trees

painted black again 

nor I wish to see my

breath lessen between my smokes 

Bore me

if in melancholy, into the new space 

before it’s too late.

Bloom serendipity 

before my morning wakes.

Abhishek Arukuti

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