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The Renku Sessions: Tawny Jacket – Week 4

 

renku_300

 

I am John Stevenson and I will be your guide for a twelve-verse renku, in which we will compose one verse per week until completion. A longer session, with a different leader, is being planned to follow this one.

This week featured one-hundred-three offers from thirty-nine poets! It also featured some lively discussion and expressions of appreciation and encouragement. All in all, it has been a good week!

There were so many tempting offers, each capable of speaking for itself. This time, rather than comment on each of them, I’m just going to list some of my favorites. Even then, I won’t have space for them all:

a longitudinal study
of what’s
not there

Patrick Sweeney

he joins in
smoothing out
rumpled sheets

Paula Fisher

in my back pack
a rosary made of
Yak bones

Kanchan Chatterjee

those mornings
the kitchen smells of coffee
and fresh buns

Polona Oblak

shelter to shelter
a life piled high
in a shopping cart

Carole MacRury

the false feeling
of fullness
that comes with plastic

Laurie Greer

the easy come
and go of
traffic lights

Nancy Liddle

teaching children
woodwind notes
with a straw

Marilyn Potter

musk
in the chin rest
of his old violin

Autumn Noelle Hall

a young monk
carefully washing
a small rice bowl

Maureen Virchau

light browses
the thick stand
of pines

Joan Prefontaine

baby’s mouth
firmly closed against
the choo-choo spoon

Lorin Ford

surfing
through a backdoor
of the Pipeline

Marietta McGregor

fossil beds
revealing layer
after layer

Betty Shropshire

two killed
and three injured in
another bad dream

Michael Henry Lee

 

Our third verse is:

cigar smoke
lingers
in the empty room

Pauline O’Carolan

One of the many considerations that I haven’t spelled out is the need to keep locations, time of day and point of view shifting throughout the renku, so that we don’t have more than a couple of consecutive verses being the same in these ways. In this instance, we have begun with two “outdoor” verses, so now would be a good time for something “indoors.” We have also had two verses that depict some sort of forward motion, so now might be a good time to depict a “pause.”

For me, the linkage between the second and third verses relates strongly to “what lingers” and “emptiness.” Of course, this is just a small sample of the possible readings. One thing I have come to believe through renku practice is that all entities are related, some directly and some indirectly. So the links are not the challenge as much as the sense of shifting is.

 

For our fourth verse, these will be the requirements/considerations:

  • a two-line verse
  • no seasonal reference
  • connecting in some way to the third verse and in no obvious way to the first or second verses
  • perhaps a late day or nighttime image, indoor or outdoor, maybe first or second person
  • be aware that our next (fifth) verse will be a winter love verse (sometimes we can think about how to “set up” the next verse)

 

Our renku, so far:

 

Tawny Jacket

 

autumn leaves
she sets out in
her tawny jacket

Andrew Shimield

the still-warm hollow
where the deer slept

Kristen Lindquist

cigar smoke
lingers
in the empty room

Pauline O’Carolan

 

Please enter your verse offers in the comments box, below. I will be reviewing these offers until midnight on Tuesday, December 10 (New York time zone). On Thursday, December 12, there will be a new posting containing my selection for our fourth verse, some discussion of other appreciated offers, and instructions for composing the fifth verse.

I look forward to seeing your offers!

John

 

This Post Has 170 Comments

    1. cigar smoke
      lingers
      in the empty room
      *
      Pauline O’Carolan
      *
      his sugar ration turned
      to bootleg rum
      *
      I am seriously typing asterisks in my emails at this point…you’d think the now-ingrained habit would carry all the way through my post. &.& (eyeball rolling–at myself!).
      *
      ~Autumn

  1. cigar smoke
    lingers
    in the empty room
    *
    Pauline O’Carolan
    *

    the doorway too narrow
    for his wheelchair

    *

    the marble of egg
    dropped into rapid boil

    *
    the last utility bill
    is paid in full.

    *
    newspaper unrolled the first
    two articles of impeachment

    .

    wendy c. bialek

  2. Congratulations, Pauline !!

    *

    his lip synching
    with an old song

    *

    an anniversary photo frame
    on the wall

    *

    his fingers tapping
    the side table

  3. the brass gleam
    of his jazz trumpet
    **
    she signs the letter
    with a flourish
    **
    my saudade to hear
    her voice again

  4. cigar smoke
    lingers
    in the empty room
    *
    Pauline O’Carolan
    *
    *
    bomb residue
    on his letters from the front
    *
    tracing the cursive curves
    of his name
    *
    staring at the star field
    of his funeral flag
    *
    ~Autumn

  5. *
    the sign “for sale”
    shrouded in fog

    *
    in front of the open window
    a tent flutters

    *
    in the corridor wall
    marks left by the pictures
    *

    1. These are both interesting offerings, as they ask us what else is being held “at arms length?” My first instinct is that aging itself is being held at arms length, since what usually results in such extended viewing distances is the need for reading glasses that comes to almost all of us eventually. I know my own such need has officially exceeded the length of my arms! ; ) So is there a note of vanity here, in not wanting to wear reading glasses in this moment? If so, why?–perhaps there is a desire to impress someone on the other side of the table. Which is a good lead in to the love verse.
      *
      I like poetry that makes me think about the back story that might have boiled down into a seemingly simple 2-line verse. Both iterations here do a good job of that!
      *
      ~Autumn

  6. cigar smoke
    lingers
    in the empty room
    *
    Pauline O’Carolan
    *
    a paper ring
    begging the question
    *
    ~Autumn

  7. For fun!

    I wandered the garden
    in the dark

    we spotted the signals
    from the plains

    Kipling said that
    a woman is just a woman

    Monica and Bill
    in the Oval Office

    is it the sunset
    or a fire?

  8. Love this, John:
    .
    One thing I have come to believe through renku practice is that all entities are related, some directly and some indirectly. So the links are not the challenge as much as the sense of shifting is.
    .
    It takes the pressure off!

  9. I see I do not see
    a neon sign turns on and off

    vedo non vedo
    un’insegna al neon si accende e si spegne

  10. cigar smoke
    lingers
    in the empty room
    *
    Pauline O’Carolan
    *
    the seraphim song
    of a glass armonica
    *
    ~Autumn

  11. Tawny Jacket
     .
    autumn leaves
    she sets out in
    her tawny jacket
    .
    Andrew Shimield
    .
    the still-warm hollow
    where the deer slept
    .
    Kristen Lindquist
    .
    cigar smoke
    lingers
    in the empty room
    .
    Pauline O’Carolan
    .
    .
    the thing about rakes
    is their appetite for bones
    .
    Les Demoiselles d’Avignon
    air an eyeful of monkey
    .
    three martinis in
    there’s the proposition of a raise
    .
    the red queen throws a great dane
    across the board
    .
    i can’t remember the last time
    that i saw corona borealis
    .
    .

  12. cigar smoke
    lingers
    in the empty room
    — Pauline O’Carolan
    .

    this repressed wish
    to understand a dream

    1. This is really beautiful. I love the way “glint” and “flute” play together. And I like the “as above, so below’ quality–a universe of stars, a flute-full of effervescent bubbles.
      *
      I was also intrigued by your “note under the door,” which poses all kinds of back-story questions–who’s in the room, who’s slipping the note, what does it say? What provoked its composition–was there a fight and is this the attempt to make-up, or perhaps a final goodbye? All great possibilities leading in to the love verse!
      *
      ~Autumn

  13. cigar smoke
    lingers
    in the empty room
    — Pauline O’Carolan
    .

    our lamp-lit tête-à-tête
    steams up the carriage
    .

    Potential love verse? Or actual love verse? 🙂 I’m not sure!

  14. .
    cigar smoke
    lingers
    in the empty room
    .
    Pauline O’Carolan
    .

    Romeo y Julieta
    from the dress circle
    .

    – Lorin

  15. the still-warm hollow
    where the deer slept
    .
    Kristen Lindquist
    .
    cigar smoke
    lingers
    in the empty room
    .
    Pauline O’Carolan
    .
    lollypop lollypop
    oh lolly-lollypop
    .
    – Lorin

  16. the still-warm hollow
    where the deer slept
    .
    Kristen Lindquist
    .
    cigar smoke
    lingers
    in the empty room
    .
    Pauline O’Carolan
    .
    “Cut!” cries
    the film director
    .
    – Lorin

  17. rose scent breathes
    from deckle-edged notes
    (May not work as it has a flower name?)

    Or:
    .
    deckle-edge notepaper
    embossed with cupids
    .

    .
    And on a different note!
    .
    a morning fry-up
    lures them from their tent
    .

  18. cigar smoke
    lingers
    in the empty room
    – Pauline O’Carolan

    are the bands
    in focus
    tonight?
    – Betty Shropshire

    1. To nix the ‘in’, maybe should say:

      are you focusing
      on Saturn’s bands
      tonight
      – Betty Shropshire

  19. Well done, Pauline!

    cigar smoke
    lingers
    in the empty room
    – Pauline O’Carolan

    can you see
    the rings
    of Saturn?
    – Betty Shropshire

  20. the still-warm hollow
    where the deer slept
    .
    Kristen Lindquist
    .
    cigar smoke
    lingers
    in the empty room
    .
    Pauline O’Carolan
    .
    everywhere I look
    Che’s ageless face
    .
    – Lorin

    .
    – Lorin

    1. I keep coming back to this one again and again. It is haunting–both the ghost of that gorgeous face and the knowledge of what happened to Che. The iconic graphic most of us associate with him is the most-reproduced image in the world, which says something important about our universal longing, I think.
      *
      This also takes us beyond Che himself, reminding us of our own aging and the ageless faces we still carry within.
      *
      Really amazing, Lorin.
      *
      ~Autumn

      1. Dear Autumn, thank you very much for liking this and for your amazing insight into my mind! 🙂
        .
        – Lorin

  21. Thanks, John for all the tips…this is so much harder than it looks.
    Congrats Pauline! John, what a great choice!
    .
    I know there has been some debate about “leaves”, but growing up with Cuban cousins and in and out of south FL, I only see the cigar and smell the aroma..this is so familiar in Miami and the Keys where there is a whole culture around smoking cigars and cigar bars. You go to the cigar shops and see them being rolled, but as a rule, you don’t smoke them there.
    .
    cigar smoke
    lingers
    in the empty room
    .
    Pauline O’Carolan
    .
    cookies and homework
    in Grandma’s kitchen
    .
    sherry and a hug
    by the fireplace
    .
    curled up with books
    feet touch beneath the quilt
    .
    Mucking out stalls
    for the evening milking
    .
    paula

  22. watching a sunset
    in shades of gray
    .
    as the sun sets
    we call each other a racist
    .
    a brother’s tears
    on my hands

    1. Hi Maureen, nice verse. I wonder if you would consider changing this verse to:
      .
      do i dare to eat
      a habanero?
      .
      .
      Just a suggestion as Wikipedia indicates that the word habanero “…indicates something or someone from La Habana (Havana).”
      .
      Of course you may have another reason for “jalapeno” and that is perfectly fine, just thinking out loud.
      .
      .

      1. Hi, princess k! Thank you for your kind words. I sincerely appreciate your advice.
        .
        I actually had a few links in mind with my verse. I will gladly post your offering along with my original for John’s consideration. Thank you for your thoughtfulness and generosity. Happy writing!
        .
        .
        do I dare to eat
        a habanero?

  23. Requirement 3
    connecting in some way to the third verse and in no obvious way to the first or second verses.
    .
    Hi John
    Am I interpretating this right.
    All 3 versus must be linked to verse 4, acknowledging that the link to verse 1 and 2 must not be obvious.
    Kind regards
    Rob

    1. No. The fourth verse should connect in some way to the third but NOT to the first or second. This pattern will continue throughout the renku. Each new verse should be written with an aim of connecting ONLY to the verse before it. This can be confusing and is one of the things that makes renku a new experience for most of us. We tend to expect progression to equal narrative structure – but this is NOT the case in renku.

  24. cigar smoke
    lingers
    in the empty room
    .
    Pauline O’Carolan
    *
    planning your next trip
    back to Cuba
    *
    a few more pages
    of The Count of Monte Cristo
    *
    imitating your father’s
    Groucho Marx impression
    *
    if we keep cigar, here are these. If not, I’ll come up with something else

    .

  25. one tile short
    of a triple word score
    “”””””””””””””””””””””””””””
    two men and a truck
    still remain at large
    “””””””””””””””””””””””
    meanwhile a whole remains
    equal to the sum of its parts

  26. the doctor knocks
    for a second time
    .
    pouring water
    from fresh peeled potatoes
    .
    an extra squeeze
    on the atomiser

  27. cigar smoke
    lingers
    in the empty room
    – Pauline O’Carolan. (Thank you Pauline and John)

    2 line no season:
    *
    so many books
    in the charity shop
    *
    a long queue
    outside the night club
    *
    same ring tone same time
    in the coffee queue
    *
    alone, I practice my
    line-dance moves

  28. Congratulations, Pauline.
    .
    Like Carol, I think the verse is good (almost a literal ‘scent link’) but the word ‘cigar’ takes me to ‘rolled leaf’ which takes me to ‘autumn leaves’ in the hokku.
    ,
    John, is it simply a matter of ‘leaf’ being related to cigar but not actually mentioned? Are Carol’s mind and mine perhaps a tad too forensic?
    .
    – Lorin

    1. Well, I wouldn’t fault anyone for what they think and see. You and Carol saw the connection of cigar and leaves. Perhaps others did, too. That means that the verse doesn’t work so well for you. And once you see something like that, it’s hard to unsee it.

      I don’t see it that way but, for those who do, I suggest that you think of this verse as:
      .
      smoke
      lingers
      in the empty room
      .
      I don’t intend to actually change it at this time (though there is the possibility of edits later in the process). A lingering sensation (scent) of smoke in an unoccupied room is the working sense of this verse and I’ll ask everyone to work with that. If there is a problem with “cigar,” that problem would be exacerbated by linking with “cigar” in the next verse.

    2. A cigar for me conjures up many images, among others that of wrinkled Cuban women meticulously folding those large dried tobacco leaves.
      But, as has been said before, if you look deep enough, everything is related to everything else. It’s largely just a matter of scale

      1. A good image, there, Polona, with the thigh mentioned, could be a good set-up for the following love verse 🙂

    3. …a tad too forensic, I like that, Lorin. If nowt else, it opens up a conversation, of sorts.
      .
      Maybe just a case of reading to deeply the appraisals in JC’s renku reckoner, and taking things to literal, wouldn’t be the first time 🙂
      .
      These renku sessions are full of wonderful verses to read, and they never fail to please.
      .
      Forgetting the leaf connection the mention of the ‘cigar’ does add a certain richness to the verse, in more ways than one.

      1. I think the verse would lose without the mention of the cigar as it definitely adds to the atmosphere and the richness of associations.
        Groucho Marx has already been mentioned.
        Churchill smoked them.
        many sitcom and movie characters used them
        and so on…

        1. I was also thinking afterwards of Bill Clinton in relation to cigars! I hope the word is eventually retained for its evocative power; as Carol said I think we can be too literal sometimes. But a very interesting discussion. Thank you, all. Pauline

  29. Yoh Pauline
    ***************

    how will we know
    when the time’s ever right
    +++++++++++++++++++
    something you feel that
    may never go away
    *******************
    across the hall crafting
    an ambiguous response

  30. My poor cat bolted upstairs when he heard my reaction to the chosen renku verse for this week! Such an honour when there were so many verses that could have led us on. Thank you, John. And thank everyone for their kind comments. Renku is the best fun.

    Pauline

    1. That’s the first time I’ve heard of a cat having an A-ha moment…:D
      *
      Belated congrats on a verse rich with both visual and olfactory appeal!
      *
      Autumn

  31. rose petals floating
    in the clawfoot tub
    *
    or, if the petals are too close to the hokku’s leaves:
    *
    steam drifting
    from the clawfoot tub
    *
    or
    *
    steam rising
    from the clawfoot tub
    *
    another possible tangent:
    *
    two ticket stubs
    in the sweetgrass basket
    *
    unless that is too close to those leaves again.
    *
    ~Autumn

    1. it may be too soon to introduce another plant, and we’ll be doing a flower verse later in the renku. Another thing is that many plants contain a seasonal reference which we don’t want in a non-seasonal verse.
      Hope this doesn’t sound too complicated 😉

      1. It IS complicated–but nothing is TOO complicated. Just takes a bit of patience and puzzling, along with the occasional V8-style slap to the forehead.
        *
        Wondering whether others here are thinking, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar…”? 😀
        *
        I saw “cigar” as the adjective modifying “smoke;” so, as John said, I focused on the smoke–the movement or scent or mood it created. Do we nix modifying words because of their potential linkages? Or is it only the noun itself we focus on?
        *
        I had originally intended to write:
        *
        cedar steam rising
        from a clawfoot tub
        *
        but I was afraid “cedar” would immediately suggest tree, which could link back to leaves. So I scrapped it, even though I liked the scent. When I tossed the rose petals in the water, I was thinking ahead to our lovers and the romantic symbolism. Roses may traditionally bloom in June (at least in the Northern hemisphere), but they are available year-round in supermarkets and florist shops.
        *
        I did not think ahead to a later flower verse, even though that is one of the few things I’ve recognized about renku (moon verse, flower verse, love verse, etc.). It’s good of you to put that reminder out there, and the idea that we’re not to link to future verses either (even though they’ve not been written yet!). Thank you for your guidance!
        *
        Time travel via renku. 😀
        *
        ~Autumn

  32. cigar smoke
    lingers
    in the empty room
    .
    Pauline O’Carolan

    .
    the flaring nostrils
    of a stuffed squirrel
    .

    wendy c. bialek

    i wanted to say “moose” but thought it may be too close to the deer….is a stuffed squirrel allowed???? or all/any animal off list now?

    1. wendy,
      .
      We probably will want an insect, fish, or maybe a bird in the second half of the renku but nothing more in this first half.
      .
      John

  33. lovely choice, here my verses for the next step
    ***
    grandpa’s old motorbike
    sold at an auction

    ***
    the garage sale in the neighborhood
    went pretty well
    ***
    you bought a settee for two
    from a charity shop

  34. cigar smoke
    lingers
    in the empty room
    .
    Pauline O’Carolan

    .
    enough palm oil
    to fry a forest
    .

    wendy c. bialek

    (my offering without a break)

  35. By all means, Autumn. The hokku should be the only verse in a renku that contains an internal cut (or juxtaposition if you will). All the subsequent verses should be break-free as the magic is supposed to happen not within a verse (as we are used to in haiku) but between the preceding and the added verse.
    .
    Nice tries, btw. 🙂

    1. Thank you for the extended clarification, Polona–much appreciated. We shall henceforth conjure without break!! ; )
      *
      Very much enjoyed your “whodunnit” verse–it adds a sense of urgency, as well as a possible note of humor. The love verse could involve characters between the covers–of the book, that is. ; )
      *
      Your salsa might double as a late night diet snack, in addition to the dance.
      *
      ~Autumn

  36. a very nice flow, congrats to andrew, kristen, pauline and john.
    .
    autumn leaves
    she sets out in
    her tawny jacket
    .
    Andrew Shimield
    .
    the still-warm hollow
    where the deer slept
    .
    Kristen Lindquist
    .
    cigar smoke
    lingers
    in the empty room
    .
    Pauline O’Carolan

    .
    long night wails
    from emphysemic lungs

    wendy c. bialek

  37. Congrats, Pauline! Your verse lingers with me. I really love that it brings a scent into the renku. Great choice, John.
    .
    unwinding
    with a gin and tonic

    1. Thank you, Maureen. Yes, important to remember and include as many senses as possible as another variation.

  38. cigar smoke
    lingers
    in the empty room
    Pauline O’Carolan
    **
    inhaling the steam
    from the chamomile tea
    *
    the flick of your wrist
    adjusting the lampshade

    *
    adjusting the shade
    for a noirish cast
    *
    giving the sfumato
    a gentle swirl

    *
    the fading ring
    from your glass of sfumato
    *
    I wasn’t sure about breaks either–but if the divisions between verses are meant to function as breaks, then I’m guessing we don’t need them within the verses too.
    Here are a few…probably more to come..

    and thanks, John, for noting one of mine from last week.

    1. I really like that “noirish cast,” Laurie (even if my spellchecker does not–I had to re-correct it three times!). I think the notion of noir pairs well with wisps of floating cigar smoke. I also find it interesting that you’re seeing noir, where I’m seeing sepia tones. Funny the ways our own experiences “color” our poetic perceptions.
      *
      I also like your “sfumato” technique, which captures the swirling motion and haze of the smoke.
      *
      Two really good offerings that shed light on this mysterious scene!
      *
      ~Autumn

      1. thank you, Autumn! I love yours, too–the sounds and textures are rich and evocative, and what that word in the dust could be….perhaps to be revealed in a future verse.
        I’m not sure “noirish” is quite standard (all the better); my spell check kept wanting to make it “nourish.”

      2. Nice tries, yes. not sure we can have another colour after “tawny” in the hokku. Any themes from the hokku should not be repeated elsewhere in the renku, particularly a short one like the junicho we are writing here.
        .
        Autumn, I wanted to reply to your query about a cut in internal verses but it posted as a separate comment. In brief, the only cut verse in a renku should be the hokku.

        1. Oh! Wasn’t even thinking about colors. I came to sfumato as a kind of smoky liqueur! Hard to think all the angles at once!
          thanks

          1. Laurie and Polona,
            *
            Sfumato is a blending, smoke-like painting technique, too–which wouldn’t necessarily connect to color, as it is a style/approach, not a tone or shade.
            *
            similarly, while “noir” can be construed as the color black, I saw it in terms of the classic film style. The old detective shows that were film noir, or the original Blade Runner film that is considered film noir style. In this sense, it perfectly sets the scene for Bogie and Bacall-style romance in the love verse.
            *
            Thanks for being intrigued by the word in the dust concept. It would be interesting to see where that might lead…
            *
            Checking out the post re. to break or not to break next…thank you for addressing it, Polona!

  39. So, does this 2-line verse need to be one continuous break-free phrase as well? The offerings so far seem to include introductory clauses, which create breaks. But Kristin’s deer verse did not include a break. Just hoping to clarify!
    *
    Without knowing for sure, here’s a few break-free attempts:
    *
    a spider in the corner
    weaving, weaving
    *
    the new photo
    in the old frame
    *
    a word in the dust
    on the mantle
    *
    that pop-scratch, pop-scratch
    at the end of the record
    *
    I’ll leave it there for now. Thanks in advance for any pointers! ~Autumn

    1. Meant to add my gratitude for numbering my violin verse among so many fine possibilities in your favorites, John–thank you so much! ~Autumn

      1. that verse was nicely strung….autumn!
        play it again, another time!

        i like your your pop-scratch, ditto verse!

        1. Thanks for the clever compliments, Wendy–made me smile! That violin verse came from the gut–ha ha (actually, I’m not sure where it came from, other than my having played violin for many years myself. The scent just kind of rose up, like the ghost of Christmas past).

          ~Autumn

    2. No more breaks within any of the remaining verses in the renku. The hokku (first verse) is the only one that should have an internal break.

      1. Great–thank you for that clarification, John! I asked because some of the previous renku from this forum DO have breaks or at least introductory clauses in more than just the hokku. I wasn’t sure if the break-less preference was yours, or was unique to this particular style of renku. No breaks from now on it is…:D

        ~Autumn

  40. autumn leaves
    she sets out in
    her tawny jacket
    .
    Andrew Shimield
    .
    the still-warm hollow
    where the deer slept
    .
    Kristen Lindquist
    .
    cigar smoke
    lingers
    in the empty room
    .
    Pauline O’Carolan

    .

    plantation change
    they set night fires

    .

    wendy c. bialek

    (my linking thoughts are….thinking of tobacco in cigar
    i think of a plantation…thinking of smoke….i think of fire….thinking of fire ….i think of the amazon fires….and how
    they want to plant palm trees for palm oil…because they get more money for palm oil….than beef per square inch. now i am thinking forward to the love theme in the next verse….night fires…can set that up easily.)

    1. I really appreciate seeing the thought process behind your verse, Wendy. It illuminates the connecting threads, plus gives us insight into your pre-writing process.
      *
      Thank you for sharing!
      *
      ~Autumn

      1. anytime, autumn. actually, the vision comes to me automatically, in a zen way….then i break the process down…by walking it backwards…to find words that describe the image.

        1. cigar smoke lingers
          in the empty room
          *
          aligning payment stub
          with envelope window
          *
          a potpourri sachet
          lost in the closet
          *
          the slow drain
          of your kitchen island
          *
          down the slow drain
          of my galley kitchen

  41. Congratulations, Pauline. Lovely choice, John, can’t fault the aroma, but I’m seeing big leaves with this. Just an observation on my part 🙂

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