Monday, 9 January 2012

On The Box and Deciding Not To Be

The box is back.
Made of bone and sea-skin,
Its skull floating in Israeli sand and its
Stomach full of Peyote soldiers who nest
In tiny metal cocoons and chew on cordite clouds atop
Descaled mountains buried in copper skies.

I hear them sometimes, 
When the box is sleeping,
Whisper-shouting as they head off to war
With weapons of dream;
Their little limbs puffing cardboard smoke
As they set sail along the arcadian canyon.
They battle the opium eaters,
The wooden ones, who dwell on the riverbeds
With foxfire eyes, licking their fingers 
And dressing their root rot in olive oil.
They fight over air, revolution in a box,
But none can breathe, so all retreat when the night curdles
And the moon cuts itself from its stalk.
I try to help them, send aid; 
But the box knows me well and scurries off
With bark nails if I’m silent for too long,
Conspiring with the pennies I planted in the carpet,
Who’ve now taught themselves to walk, and mimic
My eye-o-logue as I sit canvas-like on a Victorian easel.
I called for the exterminators, the best of the best,
Spectacled and illusive, though Freud advised me it was only a box, 
And Skinner just stole the rats that had moved in over summer.
The box is crafty I told them. It speaks in foreign tongues,
Of spices and red; but I know red well,
It smells like the sun and sounds like a thousand deserts
Thrown teeth first into an incubator with blue babies 
And homeless diamonds. They left after that, and now
I think I too may be infected with sand, 
For even the cracks in the wall have learnt my name.
I must confront the box, break it or maim it; 
But what am I? Just a lonely gun
Coughing up bullets wrapped in paper words on a laminated floor 
Littered with heavy-lidded shells that don’t wish to sea. 
I am no shell, the world will not close,
And there’s no pearl on my tongue,
Only salt in my veins and anarchy in my pockets.
It is of no matter today though,
For today, I’ve decided I do not wish to be.
No, instead I am fictional, the furniture, 
A self-contained suitcase,
Only empty and christmas-like, 
Illumined and wall-less with lungs full of snow.
Tomorrow I will silence it, stuff it with glass, and bury it
Under the tree that has no business where it stands,
Uninvited into my garden,
Debauched and buckled over the grass it eats.
And then I will gas the tree, like all the rest,
And use its plumage to feed the sun.





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This piece was loosely based on/inspired by Plath's brilliant "Arrival of the Bee Box", though I drifted off quite a bit as always - we all have our own boxes to contend with.

66 comments:

  1. Oh yes! Firstly, I will say that Plath's Bee Box is a work of extraordinary complexity and genius not meant for this world, but such a source of inspiration. I see some influences in your poem, but you have certainly OT'd it and delved into symbolism all your own.

    Where to start to pin it all down? Your opening stanzas are always exceptionally brilliant at pulling the reader in to your version of reality:
    Their little limbs puffing cardboard smoke
    As they set sail along the arcadian canyon.
    They battle the opium eaters,
    The wooden ones, who dwell on the riverbeds
    With foxfire eyes, licking their fingers
    And dressing their root rot in olive oil... (Where is this canyon? Only on the map of your mind.)

    I also like the psychological drama which ensues between the speaker and the box, which devolves into the self-contained suitcase, and perhaps back into the original tree.

    Your writing always makes me think, and think, and just when I think I get it, another possibility presents itself. Too good.

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  2. the self-reflexive reference to Freud was worthwhile, esp for a line like: But what am I? Just a lonely gun :)

    you're on a roll and this one has the same fascinating, intriguing allure.keep writing.

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  3. nice - you certainly achieved a creepy vibe

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  4. this is fascinating...surreal...the pennies buried in the rug grown legs...and heck yeah the box is frightening...this is a rapid decent into madness...and i loved every minute...smiles.

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  5. Intriguing and thought-provoking on so many different levels, OT... I especially like the second stanza, but it's all fantastic.

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  6. OT, I love this piece. You handle the images of the surreal very well. I enjoyed it a lot. Thanks for commenting on my poem. It is nice to meet you.

    Pamela

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  7. love it - you pulled all the horrors out of it and placed them on paper - really enjoyed that last stanza, the furniture, the suitcase only empty and christmas like......nice work..bkm

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  8. Oh my OT - it's as if you've been reading my mail - the stuff buried in my neighbour's yard;I am becoming addicted to your site and keep creeping back along the ether wires to re-read - Skinner has your rats also? He's a greedy bugger isn't he?
    Are you still fictional today or have you gone over to something else; I love that idea and would really like to be a poem tasting purple - barring that, an acrid article ... throw an anarchy arrow at anything you hate - after all, you might have deeeep pockets ... must slide off before I'm - well, you know

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  9. Surreal at its best...your piece wraps itself around the mind pulling the reader in

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  10. Great to read you again OT--I always feel myself slip-sliding away through your surrealism--

    Audrey

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  11. Wow, you truly went down the rabbit hole into madness with this one. Peyote soldiers in your gut and full of sand, which many seem to have a brain of anyway..haha...trying to break out of the madness but it just doesn't want to take, haunting write.

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  12. smiles to all :) - Kerry - that poem is incredible, one of my favourites, and she is certainly my favourite poet, and "Your writing always makes me think, and think, and just when I think I get it, another possibility presents itself." - pretty much how it writes ha I'm done with something and then... 'oh but what about this' and it spins off - S.E. Ingraham: haha today I am half-fictional - half-chair lol and Audrey - nice to see you on the blogs!!

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  13. Whew...another powerful write. I like the box coming to life in your words...and your ending verse is a fascinating read. "For today, I’ve decided I do not wish to be."

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  14. first of all, thanks for b-day wishes and crits over at WC. I am thinking of closing my account there altogether.

    secondly, I was very pleased to see you posting something new this soon in the new year....many half poems, scribbles, failed prompts etc. I was not let down by this one. I whole heartedly know that you could find a box terrifying, stifling and horrific. Boxes bring comfort only to those who want to be defined, contained, and categorized.

    The poem itself is full of abstract notions which you polish up quite nicely with fresh imagery. I.E. the moon cutting itself from it's stalk.

    thanks for posting and viva la

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  15. I can tell your work will give me much to think about. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog. Your comment was so thoughtful.
    Steph

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  16. I've seen a couple of prompts in the last week that this would answer brilliantly - one on surrealism and another on synaesthesia. I saw both in your poem, along with the madness and horror you mention in your process notes. I would be a bit scared to be in the same room with your narrator.

    - Traci B

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  17. My, my! So deep and powerful! The way you tell the story and bring so much thoughts and emotions out of a reader... very well done:)

    ~L

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  18. wow, so many fabulous lines here, eerie and a poem i could get lost in.
    that whole last stanza just blew me away.

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  19. swinging back through for OLN...hope you have a wonderful evening at the pub...

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  20. First off, I commend you for keeping the reader engaged in such a colourful stream of language. Your imagery is fantastic, like swimming thru a Dali painting. The flow of the words is liquid, easily read, which for me is fantastic and makes for a much better read (I tend to stumble a bit when folks go above the three syllable count) A fantastic write that was much appreciated by this humble reader...

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  21. goodness..your imagery is just breath-taking...i sat mouth wide open while sitting in a gunfire of pictures and emotions..

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  22. Wow, this is really good. I can see you're very talented...loved 'eye-o-logue' ..fabulous word! The whole poem was a great read...the psychological depths of the box and what it contains...scary (and brilliant!)

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  23. What a trip. It's what I imagine it might be like in someone's mind on something like that. An incredible read. Amazing!

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  24. Wow, there is so much to absorb here, but you've kept the focus well and pulled me along as a reader throughout the etire piece. I love this exploration...you've really evoked the rewind and the sensation of being shut-in for me here. Very nice...

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  25. wow this is awesome, something I hope to return to and reread ...I believe with every reading new gems will be discovered love it thank you and for visiting my blog too.

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  26. What a squirmy little box of horrors, yet all so orderly, as the horror of armies is made orderly by rank and file rote and machine like parades...very striking work in the imagery--the pennies, the olive oil, the entire meticulously surreal first stanza--fine writing OT, from first to last.

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  27. Whoa. Hard to know where to start here--it's quite amazing that you can combine such darkness (well you know where that is) and humor (I'm thinking of Skinner and the stolen rats.) The use of the box, the personification of the most opaque/blank objects--box, walls, cracks, very powerful--the whole poem really. I can see why you are not prolific, because it is very condensed though long--very rich. (I am sort of the opposite--quite prolific- a bit superficial at times--not in the negative sense completely.) At any rate, well done. K.

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  28. Superb images here, OT. This poem, with its surreal and strong images, will stick with me.

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  29. Powerful, surreal, and so much more, but mostly, just absolutely outstanding.

    http://charleslmashburn.wordpress.com/2012/01/10/the-sun-came-up-again-4/

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  30. Wow! This is a poem that is full...I must read it at least a few more times before it all sinks in. I especially like:
    "But none can breathe, so all retreat when the night curdles
    And the moon cuts itself from its stalk."

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  31. Oof - now there's a heady little number. Been a bit since I've caught a poem that hit with as much thought as this. Joanne's right - "full" would be a very apt way to describe the sensation of this reading, and I dare say one's hard-pressed to drink it all in on the first time through. A surreal and intricate dose of the poetic - stoking horror, surely, but through such potent imagery. Well done!

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  32. Beautiful descriptive madness that you just can't tear your eyes away from!

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  33. Oooh I really liked this, so much brilliant imagery and so many beautifully wrought lines.

    Especially loved. . .

    "But none can breathe, so all retreat when the night curdles
    And the moon cuts itself from its stalk."

    Keep 'em coming! :-)

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  34. I generally don't like longgg poems, (ADD here) but this one grabbed me by the throat in the beginning and didn't let me go. I think I have been in that box, yes I have...

    The internal landscape is disturbing but universal I think, and the outside landscape fits the poem.

    Excellent. Haunting and I will not be able to bypass its words and memories it evokes soon.

    Lady Nyo

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  35. Defusing the fear with brilliance and it is brilliant, and the sun, both hurt my eyes but something about looking at them makes me feel immortal; I'm not of course - blind that is...

    I love boxes - something mysterious man - about boxes.... And buttons

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  36. very smart piece of poetry, glad to see you share.

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  37. THIS is awesome! I soooo love your blog. Great work!

    Take care
    marinela

    Short Poems

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  38. You have a free-flowing creativity and intelligence that really informs your work. I am fascinated. :)

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  39. I'm not going to deny this made me laugh.. It reminded me of the conversations we've had about chasing our poems through the darkness before your muse kidnaps mine!
    I really liked the personality of the box and the tone of the narrator, the almost madness of chasing this thing around. The wide eyed paranoia before slipping back into the surreal world of reality. Hints of bitterness, the salt in the veins and no pearl upon your tongue but that final victorious and harsh stanza. I will win and I'll damn well burn that bastard! lol

    The relationship between the box and the narrator is great. Both are sneaky, craft, the way the narrator sneaks between the shadows but the box is too quick. Of course they try to get help but they shrug it off and wave it away as madness. This is great (they all are you know that.. stop glaring at me!) and I'll be sure to re-read it many times when I need to smile.

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    Replies
    1. naturally the most unexpected comment comes from you haha laughter???

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  40. I like what Lydia above just said. Now I am going to say something that may sound crazy. This is not an insult but a compliment to you both. Your words often make me think of Claudia "on drugs." I love her work, her talent and I think your work is a bit like hers ... but on drugs. Do I make any sense to you when I say that? Raven

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  41. you curtainly have a way of caressing the language, creating full and panoramic landscapes. every lines brings a new surprize to the images... these are fun to read!

    i especially like this part:

    "It is of no matter today though,
    For today, I’ve decided I do not wish to be.
    No, instead I am fictional, the furniture,
    A self-contained suitcase,"

    boxed and put away, enjoyed this very much ot, always a plwasure to stop by here

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  42. Hello.
    This is vivid & intense.
    I had to read it twice, but I enjoyed it.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Take Me Under Your Special Wings

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  43. I'm in awe of people who think like you do and are able to put it down in words...I'm amazed. Yeah, an enclosing box..scary!

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  44. man... this is thick. and not thick like a sandstorm, though that would fit, but thick like ... like if the night all-sudden turned to malevolent honey, and you had to grasp and pull with every step. ... i should make it clear that all of that is extremely positive... a darkly sticky poem is one whose words cling to your shoes as you step through them, and you have to pause and turn back and try to extricate yourself, but even with the grandest effort you're still left with poem-residue on your feet...
    all of it is strange and entrancing, and it gives the feeling that these are the things that are really going on, and that whole 'regular' world ... that's just a sham.
    the last stanza in particular was incredible.

    'It is of no matter today though,
    For today, I’ve decided I do not wish to be.
    No, instead I am fictional, the furniture,
    A self-contained suitcase,'

    the question of *mind* is one that is (to me, at least) the subtext of the poem, and here, it's like we've arrived at the place in the poem where it's most thin, and for a few lines we catch a glimpse of the gears and mechanisms underneath. the mind is showing up. we understand it's power to create and destroy and screw around with realities like a capricious god.

    deep stuff.

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  45. The Box has been problematic since Pandora, a silo of both mystery and horror (closets become full of psychic shadow-trash); there's a box in that closet labeled "What Happens in Helmet Province Stays in Helmet Province" (or maybe Las Vegas, or Guantanamo, or the serial killer's lime-covered crawl-space under his house). Surrendering our own box is hard enough, but what of History's, especially as it buries or whitewashes Horror as Necessity, The Global War on Terror or Holy Jihad? Ares is a bully, and scoffs at war-crime tribunals and sends mercenaries after WikiLeaks; killing is an ancient human affliction (Rilke) and it's apparently far, far easier to blow something else than learn to tolerate, even love it. Thanks for tackling this; may the box prove emptier than we feared. - Brendan

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  46. I must admit that I am a newly converted poet. Until about a year and a half ago, I was only interested in novelists, screenwriters, directors, photographers and illustrators (artists) who appealed to my sense of the bizarrely beautiful, so Sylvia Plath's works (besides those deemed kid-friendly we studied in class) are not familiar to me. And of course, what I don't know I look up. And away I went, searching for the Arrival of the Bee Box. And there I stumbled upon a gem like no other. She was sooooo ahead of her time with her surreal halucinations of real horrors in her life. And now I understand you and your writings. I never had a hard time understanding before, but there is such clarity now. The kind of clarity that comes when you learn of one's past and it sheds light on why they are the way they are (you know what I'm talking about). And now, you just appear to me as the rebirth of that brilliant woman.

    Now, on to the poem... (and I will use another comment box to do so because I've vomited a biography of blather all in this one! LOL!)

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  47. The box...
    That beautiful, horrific, and unpredicted box...
    (I know unpredicted is wrong so don't you dare correct me! I felt like rhyming if you must know)
    I love the unraveling that occurs in this wormwood kind of way as I trace every line with my eyes. It is supreme and sturdy in terms of phrasing and creative imagery. But the overall subject is quite rotten. And I don't mean that in a bad way, of course. I am talking about the struggle to get a hold of one's mind. It kind of eats at you as you read, but you can't look away. You want to feel because you covet a struggle that can create such magnificence when blotted on paper.

    But the line that has my heart... The line that presses an ardent kiss upon my lips every time I read it and gives me a new exuberant chill dwells in the first stanza:

    They fight over air, revolution in a box,
    But none can breathe, so all retreat when the night air curdles
    And the moon cuts itself from its stalk.

    That is beyoooooond brilliant! And I want it so bad it hurts! You have brought my love/hate of you to an all-time high (or low... whichever you prefer).

    And you cannot leave me like this... not with this lingering on my tongue... has me slobbering all over my keyboard for another taste. This will be absolute torture as I wait! I cannot do it! If I have to come to the United Kingdom and steal your drafts from under your bed I will! Don't think I won't!
    But in the Greenwich Mean Time (get it? I made a funny!) I guess I'll swallow my envy and pride and say thank you for such an unbelievable poem (which I've read about four times already!)

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  48. Love this:
    "With foxfire eyes, licking their fingers
    And dressing their root rot in olive oil."

    WOW!!! This is incredible:
    "But none can breathe, so all retreat when the night curdles
    And the moon cuts itself from its stalk"

    "With bark nails if I’m silent for too long,
    Conspiring with the pennies I planted in the carpet"

    "Thrown teeth first into an incubator with blue babies
    And homeless diamonds."

    "anarchy in my pockets"

    "instead I am fictional"

    You are fabulous. :)

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  49. I hope you will link a poem to my Monday Melting poetry word-prompt.

    http://rosemarymint.wordpress.com/2012/01/16/monday-melting-week-2/

    ~Shawna

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  50. And they say we should think outside the box. I think if Skinner would have to be sniffin' Freud's coke to try to get your thoughts to fit inside the box... A glass filled scull, transparency doesn't always mean understanding.

    As always my friend, your words are always a blast to read!
    RLG,
    Tommy

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  51. Just stopping by looking for your next poem. I see that it has not yet appeared. :)

    I found a little something to quote you by ... feeling a little zany today, so the pennies will do the trick.

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  52. wow, spectacular imagery and word flow. Loved the madness of this piece. "eye-o-logue" -great word!

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  53. And Skinner stole the rats -- too funny. Loved that line.

    This part too..... bark nails. Just a wonderful pairing to send the mind on a wild journey.

    Quite the box poem here whisper-shouting on the web.

    Your talent is awesome!

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  54. Metal plumes, crayon smoke... so much of the drug barons and children who fight their battles in here. And as for veering off course, that's usually when the best phrases and thoughts emerge. "Salt in my veins and anarchy in my pockets..." You are my kind of poet! Seriously, loved this offering. Was off the grid for awhile and share your backlog of replies, but here I am to say, BRAVO! Amy (Sharp Little Pencil)

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  55. I was wondering too if you wrote another piece ~

    Thanks for your comments on my haiku...I wrote another set here:

    http://a-sweetlust.blogspot.com/2012/02/you.html

    In any case, happy day to you ~

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  56. hey.
    this isn't at all related to the piece, for the record.
    but.
    i was friends with you on writerscafe.org as freelancejouster and wondered if you had heard of the group that R.J. Johnson had set up. we've exchanged emails and it's structered so that we're not bound to the "crashiness" of writerscafe anymore.
    i think you would be a valuable asset to the group. we're called outside the cube.

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  57. I am such an ass for not coming by your site sooner....but you already know that so I wont force the issue....Holy shit OT this was Jacobs Ladder, several Tool Videos and Tidelands all wrapped up into one for me. Creepy and vigilant and stunning and apocolyotic (at least as far as the internal mind goes). You are the king of painting abstract masterpieces that drip blood and cinnamon. I am always in awe and this is definitely no exception. Great work.

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  58. I am so pleased to have found you here, this is incredible work love, you always turned life into a surreal state of complexity woven with tenderness, amazing! Poppy :)

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  59. Just popping by to see if you have posted anything new. I hope your muse hasn't abandoned you.

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  60. OT!!!!!!!
    Saw your comment and wanted to respond but I'd rather do so by email. Sooooooo... give me your freakin' email address!
    maibaibie@gmail.com

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  61. Hi Angel!

    I miss these days...............................

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