The Columbia Review Fall 2020

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THE COLUMBIA REVIEW Vol. 102 | Issue 1 | Fall 2020

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An Editors’ Note


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Bennet Bergman

Paige Gives Her Lover’s Eulogy Before the Corporate Office (3)

Ja cks on Watson



Claretta Holsey


The Truth of the Thing

Justin Phillip Reed



Austin Rodenbiker


Crying in a Sequined Tuxedo

Austin Rodenbiker


the problem of deer in singapore

Lydia T. Liu


not awesome to enjoy money

Kam Hilliard



Julia Anna Morrison


The Whale Did Not Seem to Be a Warning

Cyan James


Telegrams on the New Assumption

Evan Nicholls



Yun Dong-ju tr. Jack Jung


Easily Written Poem

Yun Dong-ju tr. Jack Jung


Café France

Jeong Ji-yong tr. Jack Ju ng



Izzy Casey


Los Copetes

M a n u e l Pa u l L ó p e z


Work Song

Kam Hilliard



Bennet Bergman


how we’re



vt ho el 1c o0 l2u m b i a r e v i e w


issue 1

promising a building is fireproof es como prometer amar pa’ siempre

Ma rcy Rae Henr y


morning bells

C laretta Holsey



Jared Joseph


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NIGHT SHIFTS Bennet Bergman

At the information desk my job is to interpret the questions. “So I am at the planetarium,” someone says. “Yes.” On the sidewalk, women trying to scold their small dogs and the bus ad that reads Good Day New York which falls on my eyes like some kind of a promise. Yes, my bedroom here is nice and joyless, a view overlooking a quiet street. It gets to be kind of tiresome after a while, the emphasis on sex, everyone vaguely narcotic looking, all the new equipment for the body. For a time I admit to having been infatuated with a certain image of lostness, promiscuity, but always it was a little unconvincing on me, like a wig. Now I think, perhaps living by impossible regimen can be another way of holding oneself to an edge. I try to be very busy, very good. I’ve stopped having company and drinking during the week.


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I’ve been training myself to sleep on my back by resting a pillow on top of my chest when I lie down in bed. It seems to be working, as if my sleeping mind sees it and thinks, Better not roll over, he’s holding something.


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Paige Gives Her Lover’s Eulogy Before the Corporate Office (3) Jackson Watson

She was a febrile being. She said I am sediment drifting out of that mountain o oh sentiment, that gap. That gap. Each time I eat I find myself stari ng at what was in me: red & yellow, maroon, yellow as a room cove red in wallpaper, the door locked, red of a human of Mars, God I saw myself in a war -torn window: yellow, red, sick shades of repentance and re turn, paper fading into palimpsest. There was a scent of obsole scence & sweat, the sin and sense of sentences: buried in my body like treasure in the shut & sad womb of earth. She stood in the room and could barely balance, she did not strip but her clothes were drifting in the wind, snaking around her: she seemed more fringe than substance, and she told me:


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my body a place for exchange. I a dardan woman and once counter feiting the form of value feel on ly of worth and no warmth. Paige are you cold? Oh God am I cold. Let me touch you

dance of distance. I am in a dis sonance of the dis tance of skin. Paige eveeven you can not look in. Paige even I am contending in this agony of an agora the market had made

Mister dear can you imagine? Can you hear her? She said, Imagine Paige imagine me as Imogene or drift wood in the form of so me bird. There—a gap the narrative patches. Between sea and sail, body, animal, and tale And she turned to me and said, where do I put my bodkin? She asked me where to place the point of her bodkin. She said it would not fit. Where do I place my point? Should I pay my debts, make that quietus est? Mister, where is your point?


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how we’re


Claretta Holsey

there, there a veritable treasure rove of leaves rake-awakened knees buckling ache and weeds plucked, bare taker of garden guards aberrant wirewoman at cost indentured eye cut path through wood in frost where winds gather flowers at her feet a feat poverty reaped me, cured the word lost a stem in stacks silver crack clouds open cold languid notes waft no, sick severed languages oft, below the deck I see sea behind my lids I dig through reeds and mouthpiece resides in my unsaid her limbs leapt waves laid claim the rest I kept you, tip of tongue tided away how do you do it


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wrest one ray from decay when it comes howling how a low fire cackles, fed smoke bred by burning wares in brick ensnare the hurt the worst of it anatomized in my nine lives you flash before me, compromised


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THE TRUTH OF THE THING Justin Phillip Reed

I love you. You floor me. I have loved you and been floored. I fell for you. I hit the floor. I’m in love and on the floor. Blood continues hitting the tiles. It glides over grout. It slides out a mouth that I made in my head, having loved you in a way hardly regular. It is as red as a convertible, Christ’s robe at supper. I don’t know why I think love looks like somebody on a floor, or a dinner table broken in two, or a fist where fits the handle of a pistol I haven’t yet faced in person, though I know a man who loves me has for me one or the other. Yes, I’m thinking of my brother, whom I’ve bled—what he owes me. I always got my ass whooped in bathrooms. You remind me of him, and quietly I like it. One of you will destroy me. Anonymous gospel will open in the shape of a horn in an off-camera corner of the room. Open as the mouth on the floor, blood thick from a spigot. Spill of magnesia milk. Thick wad of wasp larvae, the spider’s open abdomen. Red as the bone of an aesthete. I love you to the floor.



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Lamentation Austin Rodenbiker

I had a dream that Russell and I stayed up all night. We were watching a blurry youtube video of Martha Graham’s Lamentation. I said oh my god, Russell, your face looks just like a little rabbit’s face. He turned to me and looked so breakable. Oh my god. I started to cry.

Oh my god, Russell.

We watched for a little while longer. I could still see both our faces reflected on the screen. I thought the whole thing was so sad that I stood up and walked into his kitchen, pretending I just wanted another beer.


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Crying in a Sequined Tuxedo Austin Rodenbiker

In the next room, the soft lens of flesh turned around at night. He paves the way of the light. His eyes become quiet and desirous. His face like a fist that anyone could call upon. He will not step out of the screen. His throat makes the sound, and for this he receives it all back. There is a move and a thereafter. He performs a continuous process in achieving touch. Queen. Hair. Struggle. Hand, but it never quite arrives. Then look over your shoulder and there is nothing at all. He is content in the space of the frame. This will be lasting. The repeated image of the flesh; eyes and everything smooth. His expression involves weight. And still there. Then look to his face.


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the problem of deer in singapore Lydia T. Liu

and they want me from china in singapore i am from china in singapore my mother is from china in singapore her mother is from china in china mother is from modor in old english modor is from the almost closure of the mouth poem is from the almost closure of the mouth i close my mouth in singapore almost no deer in singapore almost no from


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Notes: deer - wild sambar deer, once thought to be extinct in singapore since 1940. in the last decade have reappeared on highways in mandai, home to the singapore zoo and night safari. home - there are 1.4 million migrant workers in singapore from south and southeast asia, many of whom work in construction and live in dormitories. as of 2020, the ministry of health in singapore tracks covid-19 cases in three categories: imported, community, and dorm. english - in 2019 singapore celebrated the bicentennial of its founding by sir stamford raffles, a colonial administrator. one hotel, four schools, one hospital, and one station bear his name. two statues mark the civic district. water - at 3 sen per thousand gallons from the johor river in malaysia. the agreement expires in 2061. a singaporean and a malaysian walk into a bar. they argue over the price of water. sand - to reclaim land from surrounding sea, for a growing population. indonesia banned sand exports to singapore in 2007. sand mining in the coasts of riau, eastern sumatra, has destroyed 400,000 hectares of seabed and coral reefs. singapore - from sanskrit (contested). lion city.


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not awesome to enjoy money Kamden Hilliard

I love you over my head, over heel, over… no approximation of you on the rocks, with limespite, , not flat or grown -in or flown in— I love you insomuch i’d eat you if eating you didn’t make you less you than not eating you would make of your reflection of my world views Your syntax, my syntax, if not adjacent or illlllllllllllllllllllllllllllllegible insofar that I am not a member of the Species of the Genius Citizen of the Death of the Taxes of the Missionary of the “of the” insofar that grammar is a system of meansing that wants nothing but words from itself to make. Listen, 1 need not gaze at any abyss but what we got uglied on glorious —sic


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PLAYSCAPE Julia Anna Morrison You mutter flower. You Copenhagen. You snow storms. You dreamscape. You cheapskate. You ice cake. You ice skates. You abandon apple. You space need. You Tinder. You tender her in your arms. You orange Julius. You caesarian. You dessert menu. You rip pages. She just comes over, trusts the potted plant. You hoover; freeway; dead end. You, dead end. Hover a key. I follow where you cursor. Your hardware store displays bleach sinks. You sleep talk. You repeat my name, the dead one. You daydream. Your feet smell sea-salty. You ooze wine. You feminize a snowstorm. You address your senator. You wing class with aplomb. You tell her she’s an iceberg. You sway her, OK her.


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The Whale Did Not Seem to Be a Warning Cyan James

It washed up where no whale had been observed for a century, so it was an object of immense and concentrated fascination. First we discussed what to do about the gigantic carcass, then we argued about it. “Oil.” “Ambergris for perfume.” “Let’s blow it up.” “We need the ears.” The scientists were the ones demanding ears. They stood before the town assembly—all three of them, all tall and reedy-voiced and glasses-wearing—to argue that the whale was not only a great body, physically speaking, but was also a great body of knowledge. Did the town want to squander this learning opportunity for a few buckets of oil and stink; was life inside the little coastal town, the darling of tourist publications for at least 200 miles around, sincerely so boring that it merited risking a large explosion that would rain chunks of putrefying whale meat down upon surrounding cars and spur people to laugh at the town and its fireworks-brandishing yokels for months to come? The scientists thought not. They spread their charts and graphs. We suspected there was more than one way to interpret those things. Data will tell pretty much any story you want it to, right? It’s the same as when you take your ears to church— you hear what you’re prepared to hear. That’s all any of us could stomach. We admit we took a certain amount of pleasure in drawing the meeting out. We asked the scientists a long series of questions, some of which were repetitive, so they would feel important; we kept them on their feet until they swayed. But in some ways a whale carcass resembles a ticking bomb. Its tissues were emitting gases as the scientists droned; its sides were swelling with every question and we knew the crabs and gulls were already beginning to carpet it in claws and feathers. We chose the opposite of King Solomon’s solution. We cut the thing up into its various parts, all of us who cared down there elbow-to-elbow in gristle and grease. The scrimshaw artist from a hundred miles away jockeyed alongside the novitiate perfume maker and those of us who kept


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large dogs at home. The whale-eating Inuit would have laughed at us. What they could reduce to properly calibrated wheelbarrow loads in only a day took us at least three and left a carcass blebbed in flesh and still dripping globules of fat into our buckets like a leaky roof. Someone had slashed off the flippers for soup; someone was seen dragging the flukes behind his F150 toward the taxidermist. Good luck with that. More than one child was bathed in tomato sauce those nights; more than a few houses flew overalls on their clotheslines to dry. The scientists were the only careful ones among us. Among the chainsaws and axes and machetes, the sounds of their handsaw and steak knife explorations were completely lost. They lifted a strip from the tip of the snout toward the back of the head. After a while we saw only two of them, and supposed that the third had climbed into the mouth itself to instruct explorations from the interior. “Watch out!” they kept barking at each other. Or maybe they were talking to us. They sounded more like angry sparrows or mop-haired lap dogs. Things are cuter the more angry they get. But there was no way to keep that carcass from shifting from side to side as we took it down to the bone. This was no time for the delicate sensibilities of museums; this was no Victorian picnic of gentlemen researchers with monocles and butterfly loupes. So when they really started yelling we were not paying attention at first. “Girl!” they shouted. “Real live girl!” Being moderately rational and not yet as drunk on rum as we would be later on, we expected the third scientist to drag some fishy wench from the whale’s maw. That being the only place we thought a human-sized girl would fit. So we were looking in the wrong place entirely, giving the scientists at least a whole uninterrupted minute to stare at the girl they had finally unearthed (unfleshed?) within the whale’s head, while we stared rube-like at its baleen. Some of us had already begun to argue about whether or not a modern Jonah (Jonette?) could actually happen. Had a body-surfer gone missing lately, or might the whale have swallowed a swimmer? The girl was stretched between the whale’s brain and its melon, that fluid-containing sac we hear is how whales interpret the sound waves they send and receive. She lay there like a seed or a harpoon or a cancer. We knew that basically she must be dead. If the news crews had been happy before, they were delighted now. Maybe what this town had in addition to


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a dead-and-becoming-deader whale was a murder mystery. We had joined the ranks of the environs of dead girls. Those limp and faintly glamorous mere-creatures nearly ready to slip their mortal skins before languishing slowly into the depths. You can come up with any explanation you want for how they got there; they won’t tell you. Then she went and opened her eyes. Not, though, her mouth. Goodness, we tried so hard. We tried different languages; we tried whatever pidgin words and creole scraps of phrases we could remember. One of us even attempted sign. We danced jigs. We fetched a Punch-andJudy set. We poured saline water over her; we played music that included deep-sea recordings of large mammals. We asked her who she was, what did she eat, was she the reason this whale had adopted such a different migration pattern, did she know anything about the way the earth was starting to tilt on its axis in a different way, were the krill in different places, were the shrimp off-course, did she have a message or a meaning, was she a manifestation of myth or something called up from someone’s dreams, was she a seed bank of the future, was the whale version of a carrier pigeon bearing some message for us, was there a war in the inky deeps, was she a parasite or infection within the whale, was she the pilot or translator, was she a stowaway or refugee, was she on an adventure quest, did she need attention, was she herself sick, was she an art installation, a protest gesture, did she tap Morse code upon the whale’s melon? What did she mean? Her pupils tracked among various speakers. She could hear but she would not respond. By the minute the smell of sunlight upon dead whale fat intensified. What to do? “We should set a watch.” Floodlights like a sterile bonfire upon the beach. “We should extract her.” “We should push the whale back into the waves.” Thankfully those who had been calling for explosions kept their lips together, though we noticed that the scientists still pecked and chiseled at the ears buried deep in the dying tissue. That was their problem. Refusal to be sidetracked on any account. You can’t get that far in life if you don’t lift your head out of dead whale trenches every once in a while. We tried to pry the girl out with a dory oar. Some kind of tissue matrix kept her adhered to the sidewall of the whale. Could she lift her


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hands to wave? They stayed crossed. Her neck would not roll, her legs would not run. She was completely indivisible from the whale. We accused the scientists of having ulterior motives, or at least knowing more than they let on. They said they were just as surprised as we were. This was not normal biology. Well, weren’t they going to study her? They said they only wanted the ears, which they had, through dint of persistence, pulled from the whale’s head and laid upon tarps and wrapped and loaded into their windowless white van, which was full of sand and sections of kelp and other dubious things. They thanked us, obscurely, and said they would take the ears back to the research station for further examination, and that if there was anything more they could do for us, we should just call. They seemed unnerved by the girl, as though she lay outside the ken of normal human existence, fey as the huldufólk of Iceland. We shrugged and stared at each other, those of us who were left. We forbade our children from doing rude things to the embedded girl. We asked her if she needed anything for the evening. As before, she did not reply. Well, she did blink, but we didn’t know if that meant anything or not. We rigged a blue piece of canvas over her for protection. We soaked a blanket in seawater and draped it over her. We left her a Coleman lantern for a nightlight; we left a recording of whale songs playing on repeat. She was still there the next day, unspecked by flies and untormented by rot, though the smell around her had grown in potency. We took what little whale pieces we could, more for the souvenir aspect and to create pretenses for conversation. The local clinician tapped the girl’s knees with her small rubber hammer—are you surprised there was no discernable reflex? She had no temperature, she had mostly alpha brainwaves; we lost track of what she might or might not have had. Was she supposed to have sprung from the whale’s head at a certain depth? Were there others like her out there, members of an inopportune clan united by being locked in whaleflesh yet seeming content? Was it the swing of the planets, the uptick in seawater temperature, a different species of human broken off the ancestral branch long ago and as yet simply unobserved before now? Was it an evolution or a religious event or a mass hallucination or a complete fluke? It was nothing we knew. We got tired of figuring it out. The girl seemed to augur nothing, prophesy nothing, be pregnant with nothing, want nothing. Her eyes followed us as we did our work and walked our dogs. The stench rose and subsided. The flesh fell from the bones around her, though she did not seem affected.


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Was this decent? We talked about her all the time. “There’s going to be a tsunami.” “She was trying to escape somewhere else and has been somewhat fossilized.” “Our fishing takes are going to increase.” We checked with the scientists. They had laid out the various bones of the whale’s ear like pieces of a pocket watch. Every day they shifted them a little. They had discovered a new type of mite among the bones. They had found sensors that might detect bass notes. They brought out more charts and graphs and swayed in their sensible, unpolished brogans as they passed ear bones into the audience for us to convey hand to hand, those little slippery things that seemed ancient and were covered with a very thin layer of linseed oil. “More research is needed.” What they always said. The girl watched us walk home. Our headlights and flashlights reflected in her eyes. “She’s going to curse this place.” “We can’t trust what trouble she’ll get our sons into.” “No one else has been distinguished by something so unique.” One of us had a diagnosis, cerebral palsy or something else debilitating and painful that exempted him from regular net-hauling duty and turned his arms knotty with lumps of painful flesh. He did not want to become an oyster adhered to the shell of his sofa, so he began collecting flotsam. Some of us helped when we could. We contributed an old wood-burning stove, the kind that could heat an ice-fishing shack. We gave a few countertops of hewn and polished hemlock. One of us salvaged a copper basin from a wreck that happened long ago in the bay. The collector took down fences that were no longer functioning and turned their slats into cupboard trim. He put lamps into green-glass floats. He built a small home around the girl, who still lay fastened to one of the whale’s upper head bones in a long and limber arch. Her feet and her head both tipped slightly downward. She did not seem uncomfortable. She blinked for visitors. We came on days we were lonely; we came on evenings when the wind yanked the tin roofing around. Rain spatted. Sand hissed from the tops of dunes. It was nice inside the beach shack. There was a loft where the young man with the diagnosis quietly improved or declined, depending


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on the day. There was a kettle that would heat on the woodstove. Someone contributed a rocking chair. Someone else a little pile of books a sane person could stand to read and someone else again a basket that held knitting different people completed at different times. That kind of place probably has no name. It’s just somewhere to be. The perfumer perfected her formula and would visit to spritz the embedded girl with a fluid that smelled of iodine and kelp and something else soft and wild. The whale’s own oil kept a few small lamps burning when someone was there to tend them. The scientists contributed a map of bay soundings and a handful of ear bones once they had made casts. The clinician would peer at the seam where the girl was attached to see if was weakening, but it showed no signs of change. Her hair blew when one of us left a window open. Sometimes one of the women would spread lotion on her calves. Some of us came to ask her questions or explain things to her, though we did not expect her to answer or understand. She was like that for a long long time. We were waiting to see if another whale would wash up, though we realized that the waiting was more like something we felt in our bones than something we told each other about. Outside was the wind and the salt and the sea. Outside was everything we did not know about. So we listened.


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Telegrams on the New Assumption Evan Nicholls

Erwin TN Sept 13 1916

‘Murderous’ Mary The Elephant, Sparks World Famous Shows

From Red to Mary Girl you squashed my head STOP And I done sentenced you with that poke STOP They say I mishandled you STOP But they wrote Not Known on my very own death certificate STOP Not known birthplace STOP Not mother STOP Least you will be known STOP Least the folks gather in your name FULL STOP From Charlie Sparks to Mary Oh beast STOP They want you dead STOP I am out of pocket STOP Funny they had not a care for Red till now STOP People crave spectacle STOP They just want to watch STOP That is circus STOP Makes you itch around the collar STOP But oh my dark cloud how you draw the crowds either way FULL STOP From Mary to Mary O new madonna STOP Trunk and watermelon rind STOP Hungry prayer STOP They have rigged a crane in the railyard my elephant STOP These are the same people STOP O eyelash life FULL STOP


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From Topsy to Mary Daughter I recognize your fright STOP Up here in the grand somewhere I wonder how I smelled going down STOP The hooves smoked STOP But I barely recall now how I found myself in this holy tent STOP Only remember the camera STOP Hand whirring machine STOP That one electric eye on me FULL STOP From Dumbo to Mary Mary STOP More than anything and above all I want you to know what I see STOP I see my mother in you STOP And true this is how they end us STOP How they write us in and out STOP But it is also how we ascend STOP By the close of it they are left under the hard light STOP We just fly away—


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Introduction to Jeong Ji-yong and Yun Dong-ju Jack Jung

Jeong Ji-yong and Yun Dong-ju were poets of Colonial Korea (1910–1945). They wrote Korean poetry as ethnic members of a subjugated minority in the Japanese Empire. It was dangerous to be keepers and crafters of a language that the government wanted to destroy. The two poets presented here are among many others who suffered and struggled as the world descended into the whirlwind of imperialism and fascism. As the grip of the empire worsened, many of the Korean poets and writers had to stop writing altogether; some of them were tortured, some of them were killed, and some of them became collaborators of the empire. The following three translations of Ji-yong and Dong-ju’s poetry will allow a brief glimpse for the English reader of that dark time. Jeong Ji-yong (1902–1950?) was considered by his contemporaries to be the greatest lyric poet of Colonial Korea. Ji-yong’s “Cafe France” was written when the poet was a college student in Kyoto in 1926. The poem speaks to the alienation of that experience. In 1942, he stopped writing altogether, silently defying the empire, which began to demand writers and artists to create works of propaganda and worship for the Japanese imperial throne. That same year, Yun Dong-ju (1917–1945) left Korea to study English literature in Japan. Yun’s “Prelude” is one of the most beloved Korean poems. A few years later, Yun Dong-ju wrote “Easily Written Poem,” in which he deals with his struggle as a Korean student in Japan while his people suffered under the Japanese empire. Afterwards, he joined a group of Korean students in Japan who conspired to fight for freedom from within the empire. Their plot was discovered, and he was arrested with others and died in prison, where he was likely subjected to medical experiments. In the brief interim between the Liberation (1945) and the Korean War (1950), Jeong Ji-yong helped to publish and wrote an introduction for Yun Dong-ju’s one and only posthumous book of poems titled Sky, Wind, Stars, and Poetry. In his introduction to Yun’s work, Ji-yong wrote, “The enemy may have taken his flesh, but has he not held on to his bones with his poems?” A few years later, Ji-yong disappeared during the Korean War, some saying that he died from a U.S. bombardment while being transported to North Korea.


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Prelude Yun Dong-ju tr. Jack Jung

On the day of my death perhaps the sky sees me a wish to have endured spotless of my shames granted, upon a leaf heaves the wind and it is bitter enough. Stars will be sung in my heart that keeps all the dying as objects of its love and then on the road that I have been given my footsteps will fall. On this night again stars are what winds brush past. 1941


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서시 윤동주

죽는 날까지 하늘을 우러러 한 점 부끄럼이 없기를, 잎새에 이는 바람에도 나는 괴로워했다. 별을 노래하는 마음으로 모든 죽어 가는 것을 사랑해야지 그리고 나한테 주어진 길을 걸어가야겠다.

오늘 밤에도 별이 바람에 스치운다. 1941


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Easily Written Poem Yun Dong-ju tr. Jack Jung

Night rain whispers from outside the window of this tatami room. It is someone else’s country. Yes, I know. All poets must submit to an unhappy fate mandated by the Universe, but perhaps I’ll write a few lines— After receiving an envelope filled with tuition money and sweat and love from my family, I attended an old professor’s lecture with my college notebook in my arms. My childhood friends haunt my thoughts. I lost them one by one. What it is that I want? What is it that I am letting myself get low, here alone? Life is difficult— and the fact that a poem can be so easily written is a disgrace. Tatami room is someone else’s country. Night rain whispers from outside the window. Lamp’s light pushes against the dark, just a little. I am the final version of myself waiting for morning to arrive like a new era. I am my first handshake. A small hand grasped in tears. 1942


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쉽게 씌어진 시 윤동주

창 밖에 밤비가 속살거려 육첩방은 남의 나라,

시인이란 슬픈 천명인 줄 알면서도 한 줄 시를 적어 볼까, 땀내와 사랑내 포근히 품긴 보내 주신 학비 봉투를 받아

대학 노-트를 끼고 늙은 교수의 강의 들으러 간다. 생각해 보면 어린 때 동무를 하나, 둘, 죄다 잃어버리고

나는 무얼 바라 나는 다만, 홀로 침전하는 것일까? 인생은 살기 어렵다는데 시가 이렇게 쉽게 쓰여지는 것은 부끄러운 일이다. 육첩방은 남의 나라, 창 밖에 밤비가 속살거리는데,

등불을 밝혀 어둠을 조금 내몰고, 시대처럼 올 아침을 기다리는 최후의 나, 나는 나에게 작은 손을 내밀어 눈물과 위안으로 잡는 최초의 악수.



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Café France Jeong Ji-yong tr. Jack Jung

Underneath a transplanted palm tree a stone lantern stands slanted, let us go to Café France. This bastard here is a rubashuka and this other one here is a bohemian necktie. Mr. skin and bones leads the way. Night raindrops are as thin as snake eyes, and city lights weep on pavements. Let us go to Café France. This bastard’s head is a crooked apple, and this one’s heart is a worm-eaten rose. Mr. wet swallow is running. “Oh oh Mister Parrot! Good Evening!” “Good Evening!” (How is my friend doing?) The lady of tulips tonight sleeps again underneath the chintz curtains! I am no son of a count, I am nothing. My sorrow is my unusually fair hand! I have no country nor home. My sorrow is my cheek on the marble table! Oh oh, dear dog of a foreign country, please suck on my feet. Please suck on my feet. 1926


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카페 프란스 정지용

옮겨다 심은 종려(棕櫚)나무 밑에 비뚜로 선 장명등(長明燈) 카페·프란스에 가자. 이놈은 루바쉬카 또 한 놈은 보헤미안 넥타이 비쩍 마른 놈이 앞장을 섰다.

밤비는 뱀눈처럼 가는데 페이브먼트에 흐느끼는 불빛 카페·프란스에 가자.

이놈의 머리는 비뚜른 능금 또 한 놈의 심장은 벌레 먹은 장미 제비처럼 젖은 놈이 뛰어간다.

“ 오오 패롵[鸚鵡] 서방! 굳 이브닝! ”

“ 굳 이브닝! ” (이 친구 어떠하시오?) 울금향(鬱金香)아가씨는 이 밤에도 경사(更紗) 커튼 밑에서 조시는구료!

나는 자작(子爵)의 아들도 아무것도 아니란다. 남달리 손이 희어서 슬프구나!

나는 나라도 집도 없단다 대리석(大理石) 테이블에 닿는 내 뺨이 슬프구나! 오오, 이국종(異國種) 강아지야 내 발을 빨아다오. 내 발을 빨아다오.



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Wood Izzy Casey

I am one nasty carpenter with one nasty mouth. I am currently building a giant wooden udder the size of a giant loaf of bread. I have transcribed thirty-seven naughty phrases into different languages on each teat. I will place it inside of the elementary school (which I built) and force all of the children to look at it. I will convince them that if they do not appreciate my carpentry that the Ackie Joo Joo man will come for them in the middle of the night. If you are in need of romance or romance advice, I am unavailable. I cannot find you a hot date. I cannot teach you how to woo another. I cannot assist you with romance of any kind; I must focus on my woodwork. My woodwork is very special. I make everything with my hands. I made a gallery of noses and on each nose I carved the names of all of the trees that your grandfather has made out with/slept with/cuddled/killed. I have multiple stacks of paper, and on each of them is a sonnet about my love for wood. If I could marry any kind of wood I would marry Knotty Pine; it is the naughtiest of woods. When we are together I feel extra popular! I like feeling extra popular! It means I am the ultimate grand supreme woman of the trees. I can build whatever I want, like an airplane full of jokes or a termite full of pantyhose. I just really like stuffing things with pantyhose. I am also a bachelor/spinster of some sorts. I have the contact information of every type of wood in my cell phone. Every day I call one up and plan a hike/date/boat ride or plan to slice one in half. If the woods are lucky I will wrap them up in pantyhose and call them beautiful lady. This is just business, so I would like to keep things casual. I am looking for an assistant, not a person to kiss on the mouth. I am looking for people to buy my woodwork and anyone who would like to discuss my woodwork with or without me. If you are interested write me a letter, since that is the most qualified form of communication these days.


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Los Copetes Manuel Paul Lópe z

My plastic gun couldn’t save us copetes

Those plastic guns couldn’t save our 1980s

We all had them

every Saturday at 6PM

I carried my plastic black uzi replica to Rafa’s

Asked his ma

Hola Turi

Let me call him

you señora


Turi’s here

Me oíste

is Rafa home

Would you like something to drink

está debajo de tus calzones hediondos Ay amá

Señora Alvarado

No thank

Your twelve gauge is in the laundry basket Me oíste

Boom you’re dead

Next time you better behave My primo Tortuga brought the

Pirates of the Caribbean musket his stepdad bought for his ass at Disneyland when Dennis first dated my tía

¡bribe of all bribes!

their first “family vacation”

that little weasel

We laughed at that long skinny thing that lumber and pipe

O silly cap gun

tricks are for kids

Ah fuck you Tortuga blasted

We called him one-shot Tortuga

Too bad he never saw the twelve crosshairs dancing

across his forehead like a small swarm of chicharras unlucky draw

last gat picked from the pile

poor relic of another era

That pirata long arm was the too slow for combat

We brought rapid-fire burners and injured ourselves in

the mulberries that kicked and scratched when we hid from each other hunters of the bush

Shut up Beto they’re gonna hear you

have to sound like some pinche porn star huffing like that Stupid

I don’t want to carry your ass home again

rived home bleeding and scratching

Why do you always Where’s your asthma pump

Though we all eventually ar-

Max nearly suffocated when he hid in Rafa’s

abandoned ice box one necro summer when he stiffened up in the heat of battle afraid


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to face the massacre that kaboomed in Matthew’s front yard cated tree bark

bodies like desic-

small ribbons of commemoration we were when our likenesses

escaped above rooftops upon our corporeal deaths

musty adolescent release

each week the gang of us like second-hand cigarette smoke we floated past the Jack in the Box sign on Fourth Street trigger and dutifully fell

We cried Boom you’re dead when we pulled the what commitment to death

we screamed when we won town

such ashy allegiance

small bodies strewn across the lawns of a small desert

We brought our guns and figured two solid hours of fun enough before

our mothers cried bathwater out open kitchen windows

Boom you’re dead

Sylvio whispered into my ear as I squatted behind Leo’s dad’s ’82 Camaro my pirate musket (I was the last to draw) trained on Tortuga’s neck

What dread when fear

squirrels up and screeches from the bottom of a travieso’s throat Then BAM

the great fat cranial sneeze

our nickelodeon civil war

all out

our blood-hued mucus

our imagined transcendence

We brought our

guns loyal to death and fell while Darlene’s mom’s favorite rose bush periscoped earth with its roots and searched for Sergio’s bones cancered one year before

Fire ants

that memorialized Saturday’s tennis shoe pile with their electric soil music


vas pyre


rescue party

wicked deforestation

branches arrived broken and dry front porch

skeletal loggers

stiff abomination left to wither on my parents’

small heap of me pleading bath time to rinse away the agony of that

rogue astilla that somehow lodged its wicked prick into my tiny heel to my birth balloon


explosion of the day’s prayer that once promised our future

arrivals unharmed


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Work Song Kamden Hilliard

It was, a friendly thing. They were just happy to have me. First, I was told rest—go plump —prepare. & I worked well with that line of work, worked as if I needed “the crucial services Which make your donation passable,” yet, according 2o Boss Lady, mistakes disinterest the dead money People. I asked the living how to manage life saving community interventions. I


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asked the dead to stand in line while I could just say what I am saying rather than say what I am Like, like, when I used my voice, I became what was funny about me, what was mumbled about me, what I repeated about me in the collegially ribbed workplace complaint I didn’t want to file. The file, so full of me, and repeatedly everyone wants to know why I didn’t say anything with my St. Nick Carraway-assin


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ass bullshit. I spoke (finally) and said “,,,Martha I’m sayin when you talk to me like that I feel as if you are belittling me intentionally and, further, I feel that there’s a racial component to the belittling i mentioned.”


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It is a Saturday in America. Rice is for lunch. I take a shower, and later get nowhere over the phone. A woman I know socially invites me to have a party at my house. She says she has seen it. She knows it is big. She encourages me in the spirit of civic responsibility to have this party. I am relieved when I check my calendar to discover I will be out of town. Therefore the party will have to occur elsewhere, will have to be a different party, different from the one she is imagining. All of this takes place in autumn. Imagine it, the tree nearest my bed being called magnificent by someone who visits.


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promising a building is fireproof es como prometer amar pa’ siempre Marcy Rae Henr y

when los vecinos wake you and you’re half in sleep and half out

almost as if the moment before you fall in love

pero no tan bueno and not at all like being half brown and half white

not even realizing til sitting on your abuelita’s bed and she touches your flat chest and says tú tienes blanco in you

not accusing not avoiding just informing

you of something no one on the street notices

and suddenly one summer she’s fading


half in life means half out

and you feed her thru a plastic tube

trailing to her stomach and wonder how

it isn’t un dolor sin final

but don’t ask because to ask is to call attention to

tubes and a bit of whiteness and dying makes her cold

así que no hay air con en el desierto where if you stay late enough skins crackling


you’ll smell chile verde en tostadores at times charring

it’s just the two of you all day

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until your mami gets off work

so you walk around half naked

enough clothes to get you arrested on the street

on the morphine clock your short term memory starts to go

half remember half dream

and you sit next to your abuelita

sharing this moment of almost death of life but not as good no, it is as good

because it is

and death is very intimate

you crawl into bed with her the way you did as a child when she tried to teach you prayers en español but you were half in belief de un dios eterno

and half in fear

un fin de semana when you would normally be peeling skin off chiles with her

sales a tomar una tequilita blanca

and you write a poem

in half light or half lit

and later it’s only half as good as you think it is you watch obama accept the nomination your abuelita comes out of the morphine for a moment the nurse comes once a day and you go for a bike ride

by the arroyo or to the gym

to half remember your own body that can’t possibly get old just forgotten you come back to her rooms in the historic hotel

and shower with the coldest water you can stand and come out into stilted air

even a fan hurts her at this point even a hug

you sit in your calzoncillos negros at the edge of her bed

so softly


the columbia review

so as not to remind her she’s dying

she asks for more morphine solo un poquito más but won’t say if it’s for the pain of living or the pain of dying you tell her si le doy más you’ll o.d.

pero ya estoy dying anyway!

she sounds like a child

finding out she’s halved

not on my watch you’ll tell her and regret it year after year but for now you just sit on the edge of her bed

and she touches your clean hand then your bare chest where a medallion would hang and she teases you have white in you

as if someone poured it in drop by drop thru a feeding tube not much


plugged into la panza la verdad no mucho más que yo she tells you

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morning bells Claretta Holsey pour Joseph

first glimpse: you puffed up perfumed --Mahalia intercedes-performing absent fatherhood while we do not even look: you n your eye -lids can’t--

behind your son’s anonymous head before the sun set upon


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you, Father a whole host sitting in vigil waking with infinite cold yet you mind us


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She is late at night but narrow. The bird hanging in response is there. These trees tall as fuc king Midas’ touch brings you together. Is it fun to be an evangelist? Sleep in your eyes then. This sleep will not stop. She thicc as the night is narrow. This natty lite brite month i want to hear my thoughts. She thicc as the night is narrow the raven learns the true song, or instrument & measure, but that’s what the lyrics are a guide to when you lose, so that’s the day devouring the earth, thirsting for the earth, but we do not thirst for water either teevee or Disney + might be better subtract that, this entry you become. She was thicc at night before, the moon’s moon was gone, it had a hernia, normal grass, normal Miley Cyrus had a mild virus, but we are all complicated we heard ears and with additives, reduced it further She is late at night relieving memories we steal our drunk father ‘s beer. i miss the body. i’m a mental person. i miss him later. i am lost in you in the summer


the columbia review

She is late at night but narrow. We waited for the daily intake. The skin will burn but it will shiver. The wind was harsh. Smoke smoke and birds calling. Every morning in your song Victory. No one is in a coma like you like a full moon for the duration of the night The arrows spread through my face with their hips and ass I am like a ghost. Something unexpected happened. In the night on the sidewalk a man about to intersect my path (i own it) and i lease it to leave to the road to give myself space for my aerosols (i own them) (have a spirit) but he does not have such a spirit or distinction like the dusty of a mighty wind, we are restored and all natty sounds in a simple convo, with ears and nose and dogs, ordinary dogs. If i’m offending golden gold free me. It makes no sense to me We are sick like Mia Farrow. But beauty is not wrong. But Yves is a name among people. I organize around a sentence, She thicc at night but narrow as a slivering slow arrow of bent moon, as a throb of eclipse, or priapus, or apple store, like a new microphone My love for you is like a Hot Pocket, She thicc as the night slips. She thicc as two ships passing in the night narrow. The night has courage to endure the world and the world is nothing


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but a type of me. The night is hips bucking me to “Sure.” She died, she rested, and i was alive. No gauge can describe the extent that that language there repeats She thicc as the night sparrows aren’t nocturnal. Idiot. But i am a blasted tree. The boles the moles make key holes through. The shattered wood on my soul kindles expansively, and is teak which’s sold at peak price, expensive, but ignites fires all the same price: you can’t buy flames on ebay. The night is as bright as night our curtains came down the reflection of the moon in the sea, not the sea. Its versatility, crazy. The day of the merger you lie in the pool holding the white wine in the mirror and your hand in my hope to repair your electrocute, electroadorable brain damage. Rude, i said to my friend, not comrade. Some joke about picking Trotsky’s brain reminds me: That scene in that movie that social worker says “you’ve lately it seems had increasingly negative thoughts” and that recipient of that insight says “ But all my thoughts are negative” made me cry my Lexapro out. But i’m a Lexamateur. But i’m a superhero ‘s normcorevillain. She thicc as the night is narrow but the flare of the hips burns my ungloved palms to hold you rocking to Elvis Costello. Anthony Hawk: the cow ollied over the moo n. I have learned some insights from the sun and learned a terrible sight from my father and what eclipses feel fails to conceal


the columbia review

too much thiccness and the wheels of the night were flying over the earth trying my patience. And yet what if i’m a flash of the entirely new? She thicc as the night is narrow. Night filter on the moon and so they worshiped. In the high vaults behind the gates of heaven there is a seal arp arp All high notes fall from. All the stars are the same. But not everything feels like something else. There are no miracles scattered over the land and across the earth around the world and around the world.


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Bennet Bergman is a writer in New York. His poems can be found in recent issues of The Threepenny Review, Boston Review, and Gulf Coast. He’s also the founding editor of Changes, a new nonprofit book publisher. Izzy Casey’s poems have been published in or are forthcoming from Gulf Coast, Black Warrior Review, Bennington Review, BOAAT, Prelude, NY Tyrant, and elsewhere. She received her MFA in Poetry from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Yun Dong-ju (1917-1945) was born in North Gando, Manchuria, and was raised in an expatriate Korean community in China until he came to Seoul seeking collegiate education, the pursuit of which eventually led him to Japan. He is one of the most beloved Korean poets, whose lyrical work dealt with the agony of living one’s life in the face of cultural genocide against one’s people. Marcy Rae Henry is a Latina born and raised in Mexican-America/The Borderlands. She was once accepted to Columbia Law School, but ran off to the Himalayas and has never really come down the mountain. She did end up studying Interdisciplinary Art at Columbia College Chicago, where she taught for a time. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Epiphany, Hobart, Pangyrus, BathHouse and Writers Resist, among others, and it has received a Chicago Community Arts Assistance Grant as well as an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship. M. R. Henry’s first chapbook is being published by DoubleCross Press. Kamden Hilliard is the Anisfield-Wolf Fellow in Publishing and Writing at the Cleveland State University Poetry Center. They earned an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Claretta Holsey is a Rona Jaffe Foundation Graduate Fellow and a Literary Translation Graduate Certificate


the columbia review

candidate at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. A three-time awardee of the Academy of American Poets prize, she recently graduated summa cum laude with a BA from Stetson University. Her poetry and creative non-fiction have been published in Eclectica Magazine, Poetry Breakfast, Fishfood Magazine, and on and PromptPress. She has read for The Iowa Review and is reading for the microjournal Black Poetry Review. Cyan James holds an MFA from the University of Michigan. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Conjunctions, Shenandoah, The Michigan Quarterly Review, Harvard Review, and The Account, among others. Currently she is completing a novel about the girls who survived the Green River Killer in 1980s Seattle. She loves fiddles, falconry, long road trips, old front porches, and Laphroig. Jeong Ji-yong (1902-1950) was regarded as the foremost Korean poet in his time. He was a member of kuinhoe (the Circle of Nine), a group of modernist poets and writers of the Colonial Korea. Being suspected of leftist politics and believed to have gone to North Korea during the Korean War, his poetry was banned in South Korea by its military regime until late 1980s, after the civilian government came into power. It was later established by witnesses that he was likely killed by the U.S. bombing during the war. Jared Joseph is boring. Jack Jung is a graduate of Iowa Writers’ Workshop where he was a Truman Capote Fellow. He was born in Seoul, South Korea, and immigrated to the United States. He received his BA in English from Harvard and MA in Korean language and literature from Seoul National University.


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Lydia T. Liu is a poet and a PhD student in computer science at University of California, Berkeley. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in Berkeley Poetry Review, Frogpond, Indiana Review, and Modern Haiku. Manuel Paul López’s books include Nerve Curriculum (Futurepoem, forthcoming), These Days of Candy (Noemi Press, Akrilica Series 2017), The Yearning Feed (University of Notre Dame Press, 2013), winner of the Ernest Sandeen Poetry Prize, and Death of a Mexican and Other Poems (Bear Star Press, 2006). He also co-edited two anthologies, Reclaiming Our Stories 2 (City Works Press, 2020) and Reclaiming Our Stories (City Works, 2017), both generated from a community-based writers’ workshop of the same name that he’s co-facilitated since 2016 in Southeast San Diego. A CantoMundo fellow, his work has been published in Bilingual Review, Denver Quarterly, Fairy Tale Review, Hanging Loose, Huizache, New American Writing, Puerto del Sol, The Rumpus, and ZYZZYVA, among others. He lives in San Diego and teaches at San Diego City College. Julia Anna Morrison is from Atlanta, Georgia, and has an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her work has recently appeared in Prairie Schooner and is forthcoming in West Branch, Spoon River Poetry Review, and Adroit. She is Lecturer of Screenwriting at the University of Iowa. You can find her at Evan Nicholls has work appearing or forthcoming in Guesthouse, Sporklet, DIAGRAM and Hobart, among others. He is from the peach and wine country of Fauquier County, Virginia. Find more of his work at Olivia Parkes is an artist and writer based in Berlin and Iowa City, where she is currently a candidate for an MFA in Fiction at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her work has appeared in Tin House, Zyzzyva, Electric Literature, and


the columbia review

American Short Fiction, among other publications. Justin Phillip Reed is an American writer and amateur bass guitarist whose preoccupations include horror cinema, poetic form, morphological transgressions, and uses of the grotesque. He is the author of two poetry collections, The Malevolent Volume (2020) and Indecency (2018), both published by Coffee House Press. Born and raised in the Pee Dee region of South Carolina, he participates in vague spirituality and alternative rock music cultures and enjoys smelling like outside. “The Truth of the Thing” is excerpted from an ongoing ekphrastic engagement with the 1973 film Ganja and Hess, written and directed by Bill Gunn. Austin Rodenbiker lives and writes in Texas. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Hobart, Spillway, Tin House, Prelude, Narrative, The Florida Review, and PRISM international, among others. He received his MFA from the New Writers Project. Jackson Watson is a senior at Columbia University.


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the columbia review

Ryan Daar Morgan Levine Sofia Montrone

Managing Editor Spencer Grayson

Layout Editor Anna Lang

Web Editor Ilina Logani

Editorial Board Hanna Andrews Bella Barnes Spencer Grayson Sam Hyman Malachi Jones Anna Lang Ilina Logani

Cat Luo Elizabeth Meyer Evan Mortimer Claire Shang Sasha Starovoitov Thomas Mar Wee

Cover Art



Olivia Parkes

The Columbia Review is published twice yearly by the students of Columbia University, New York, with support from the Activities Board at Columbia. This issue is sponsored in part by the Arts Initiative of Columbia University.

Enquiries to: Columbia Review, Lerner Hall, 2920 Broadway, New York, NY 10027. Email: Books and media sent for possible review become the property of The Columbia Review.Visit us online at: Copyright © 2019 by The Columbia Review. All rights reserved. Reproduction or translation of any part of this work beyond that permitted by Sections 107 and 108 of the US Copyright Law without permission of the publishers is unlawful.


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