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Nhojj Poetry Vol. 2

by Nhojj

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1.
Anagram Another way around Another ray of sound Another day above ground Letters spelt backward & forward meaning Arises Society chastises criticizes But the one true One Acknowledges Faith admonishes Keep on going My child Gratitude Character is a symbol of one’s Soul comfort Even when life is hard Truth is you are whole Always have been No need to play that role Conforming takes a toll Under such weight we all fold Sooner or later... So seize this moment &... Breathe... in Words Cipher codes Blurred Frontal lobes Third Wisdom grows & Breathe... out Forgiveness Seek and ye shall find Power of One who sleeps deep inside All of us Get on the bus We are traveling on this road to life eternal Life’s a journal To be written in With fingers that look like yours... and mine It’s crazy I know. But My meaning is as simple as A song One that holds your hand The One who helps you stand When legs are tired & spirit weak The memory is lost now found Down by the river Under new moon’s magic Wade in the water & Dream Someday Peace Love & Freedom Will abound so I pray you Knees kissing ground & Arms hugging sky Hold on Things will get better Like a lullaby Love is standing by Angels are waiting... Waiting for you to believe & See them What’s the message in this madness? Let life flow My sister My brother Daily put one foot in front of the other & Move to the light I could go on but I’ve been roaming long enough. It’s time to go home... or is it come home... I’m coming home There is meaning in a name but in The end the pot boils over & The same flame must be lit again The same flame & the same name The same picture in the same frame & The movie tonight is A new me... No I’m kidding The photo in the frame Sepia colored by now Shows you and me Me & you... We are younger We are by the sea In the age before life became cliffs & complications The sun is shining and the clouds are fluffy Like puppies playing in the sand and We are happy.
2.
I am standing In a bookstore Somewhere on broadway A few blocks from NYU. I’ve been Racking my brain but I can’t remember This store’s name, but then, I can’t remember Most names. Even ones I’ve just seen or heard. Ideas On the other hand Ideas stick to me like static cling It is sometime in 2004 and I am here to explore… Ideas The Da Vinci Code has taken the world by storm. I am apart of the world, but I seldom get caught up in the winds of pop culture. I see storms approaching and I burrow underground where it’s quiet and peaceful and calm and quiet. But this storm of alternate histories and gnosis has caught me by surprise. This morning a cyclone lifted me out of my bed with such speed, I felt unrest in the pit of my stomach. Gale winds whirled me around faster and faster causing my senses to blur. I was sucked into a hurricane that catapulted me over roof tops, apartment complexes and cathedrals. Lightening flashes jolted my eyes out of their sockets, while thunder exploded in my ears. I could feel my heartbeat racing as I pelted over high schools, colleges and universities, precipitation forming like cold sweat all around me, as I hurled towards glass doors, fear rising in my mouth… All is quiet. All is calm. The nerdy looking cashier standing behind his post looks up at me… a silent greeting. It’s almost like I’d walked in here… either that or I am in the eye of the storm… I’ve been here before. I’ve walked through these glass doors many times to enter this little enclave. I visit here because it is quiet and peaceful and calm and I usually stay on the first floor flipping through books. I like books… all kinds of books. Books with pictures. Books with words. Books with pictures and words. Hardcover books. Softcover books. Out of print books. Just released books. Rare books. Popular books. Large books. Small books. Thin books. Thick books. Display books. Books standing up. Books lying down. Books staked side by side. Books staked one on top of the other. Books, books and more books. This is a tiny world full of books and quiet. But today I’m not here to casually flip through books. Today I’m here to explore the mysterious, the strange and the fantastic. There is a basement in this bookstore, a basement chocked full of books in which these very ideas coexist. Now I descend the narrow staircase Rows of books gaze at me… Esoteric books Magic books Occult books New age books New Thought books I stare back. Fingers itching. Ready to explore. But. Mind still caged. Remembering sermons. Preached from pulpits. Not by me. By my father. A congregation praying for lost souls. These. Are the books. My young eyes. Were forbidden to see… The devil is supposed to reside in these pages. In this confluence of words… in these ideas. Sigh I stand at the crossroads of memory, myth and magic Which road to take? Memory? A mountain of myths… A history of child’s play Who knows what fairytales lay scattered on this floor Broken and mixed up Waiting to be sorted out Waiting to be glued together What piece goes here? Peace I choose magic Fingers touch pages Mouth silently utters Letters form words Spell and conjure Revelations and explanations Explaining the unexplainable Peaking behind Her veil to reveal She who can never be fully revealed Or understood by human minds Even as She dances all Around us every night from Twilight to Dawn Even gazing at us now From flowers and breeze and mirrors… God is Indeed… Everywhere
3.
Know Thyself 02:54
There is a cloak  Covering his eyes Three messages ringing in his ear +  A cross hanging over his heart  His mouth only utters platitudes So his prayers never make it past low altitudes    He Grows  Numb.  For many years  He does not speak... why speak if  No one is listening He sits under the tree of knowledge of good and evil and waits for apples to fall from the sky.  This is his classroom.  But he doesn’t make the grade.  He doesn’t get the A,  but day by day he learns how...  Truth hides in history and how history hides the truth... and there is much hiding in the history of the rectory, Africa and slavery. Cause and effect... In Nag Hammadi, the woman Sophia found the missing pieces of this puzzle... cause in effect this story has many puzzling pieces... and many people are still missing... and many nieces are still praying to a god in the sky forgetting that She is always nearby. Whereby  Impressions and light always change depending on where one is standing and what one is witnessing.   Now that was truly mind boggling  But  He also learns  Compassion, kindness and forgiveness.   Now all these years later, he returns to the house he left so long ago wearing a white flag on his sleeve. Let him who is without sin caste the first stone... well he let go of sin and stones a long time ago.   Now he focuses on love, and it is with love in his heart and Sophia’s mystical wisdom holding his hand that he steps up onto this soap box... knowing someone is always listening, even if that someone is only me.   Now he speaks... Drink peace from whichever bottle you find it in,  but look around you... There are many bottles on the shelf There are many ways to  Know thyself
4.
Hello My name is Neo  & I am the one This is not a joke Or a game or a blockbuster movie This is real  This is Life Let me tell you my story... I Was living my life In my own little world  a little high tech hi-fi WiFi sporting  9-to-5 neck ties hardwired to survive  The man-made demands the man made on me The boss and his reprimands That was me  A few short years ago Looking out the window longing for  Freedom Everything seemed a little 2 hazy  Everyone seemed a little 2 shady So I stayed in my room and learnt to program Developed code for the brain’s software  Because mine seemed to be malfunctioning  Bogged down by bugs, glitches and defective manufacturing  Then one night I got a call  Screen blinking code signals green Hands unseen sending messages from beyond Cryptic correspondence  Clipped my despondence Mother.  Sister.  Daughter.  Rose  Water Eclipsed by the son Her redemption now begun Holy Trinity  Thou art  One Surprised He is a She? Patriarchal society everyone  believed... God the father  God the sun And so on so  Truth hid or went on the run Or was burned at the stake Witch hunts still make the news Witch hunts still garner more TV views & This world... This reality... This human construct We all downloaded  Onto our internal hard drives and Installed... Losing our memory to  Follow its commands like our lives depended on it but The colors are so vivid The sounds so real The people jostling in the streets so visceral and  This fear  This perpetual fear lurking ever so near that we Feel it must be real So we kneel  When we should stand and stand when  We should kneel Living up to other’s ideals Dismissing what is really real It’s time to heal No time cannot reveal Because time came with the deal Hard to stomach? Well  I believed it 2 Sometimes still do Allegory of the caves Our people sitting like slaves Facing walls believing in shadows That walk and talk and blind us That chalk outlines define us  Let blocks and signs confine us Let ghosts from our past undermine us Obliterating our light we think others can outshine us  So our present brings no gifts Just deprives us  of our future  Wounds run deep  I know...  but  Forgiveness is the suture  What Plato understood What I wish we all could Realize Open our eyes Recognize These shadows on our wall  are only shadows on a wall  And this ain’t even our wall Crawl out of this cave we’re in  Living with concepts of sin  Holding our heads  Like blinders on thoroughbreds  Be quiet don’t spook the horses I say “try it”... resist the forces Turn around and see your light At first sight it might be too bright It’s natural after living life in one endless night  Yeah right...  but  Show me how  Mere words  Aren’t enough Action is required  And since I can’t change you  I change me Now do you see  why...  I am the one? I must be All change must start with  Me in Me by Me through  Me change is hard and  You can’t do it for Me Now you see   This is not a joke Or a game or a blockbuster movie This is real  This is Life Welcome to the Matrix It’s physical, mental and spiritual grand theft.  Now it’s time to exit  Stage left... In dream’s hand  Morphing and amorphous like Morpheus Lies 2 choices  Don’t be fooled  There is only one.  A Blue pill to sleep and a  Red pill to... Wake up!
5.
My history   Your history   Celebration of color   &  Overcoming adversity   We all taste it so  Let’s face it   Together  African and Caucasian   Asian and Indian too  Native American or not  We’ve all been black and blue  Physically emotionally   Mentally and spiritually   We all know what pain feels like   We all know how chains sealed tight feel like  History reveals many battles many fights  Go back far enough &   We all know what inferiority feels like  That’s why typewriters type  And writers write wrongs  The hand that life can deal us  That hand of fate can steal us   Right out of our mother’s hands  Right out of our motherland &   Harvest us in fields of cotton rice vice and sugarcane  So it often seems  Our lives don’t amount to a   Can of beans  Bought and sold over a counter top  Stop!  Let me fix these seams   & while I’m over here   Let me fix you a plate of these collard greens  Black eye peas macaroni cheese  Okra & cornbread too  So you can chew on this  Overcoming is encoded in our DNA   Overcoming walks freely in our genes  Like kings & queens  Remember that sermon on the mount   Dr. Martin Luther King  Lift every voice & sing    I have a dream  Sojourner Truth  Followed route 2  Freedom then planted new   Seeds new trees new  Roots run deep  Tribes live free  Daughter of Africa  Feminist abolitionist   George Washington Carver  Scientist botanist inventor  Rosa Parks spent her life  In return for so little change so  Sat there on that bus.  She must have been scared   On that bus.  Lightning and disbelief   Flashing all around her... on that bus.  Like thunder war and rage  Gears shift and bus parks  Sparks and fireworks on that bus.  Change looming   Voices booming  On that bus.  Trying desperately to drowned   Her but she and many   Sisters sat   Quietly...  On that bus.  Mouthing words  Solemnly...  Caged birds singing softly On that bus.  We shall not be moved  We all know their names  We all believe in their aims  We all know their deeds  We all received their proceeds  Frederick Douglas, W. E. B. DuBois  Marian Anderson who sang opera arias in   Concert recitals seated right next to negro spirituals...  Wade in the water Gods gonna trouble the water Swing low sweet chariot Coming forth to carry me home Steal away  Steal away to freedom  She sung   She won the hearts of Americans everywhere   Every town square   Where we sat huddled together in the cold  Discovering new ways to   Be bold & overcome fear  Soon I will be done with the troubles of your world...  That’s how we called forth the rebels  Radicals and revolutionaries  They rose from the earth &  Marched in the streets  Protesting  Chanting slogans to   Repeal injustice and prejudice   Speaking out  Speaking up   For the people    By the people   Malcom X  Huey P. Newton  Angela Davis   Asata Shakur   Freedom fighters  Fire lighters   The original  Black lives matter   Black strength gathers  Black Muslims  Black Panthers   Fists raised in the air  Afros & dashikis & bowties   Everywhere   Underground Railroad now added   New names and faces   Marsha P. Johnson   Drag queen, trans women giving   Homeless kids a home   Starting Stonewall Riots   Combating bias  Resisting silence  Cause there is no way to justify this   Homophobia transphobia   Sexist behavior   We all need a savior... sometimes  &   Speaking of saving  What would we do without   Artists paving the way  Authoring new books for a new day  Some merry some gay   But all coming together to play  So we could dance   Together in   Streets & in   Clubs & on   Stages &   Laugh as   Life flipped the pages...  Jazz Blues Hip hop R&B & Rock & Roll too   Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Bessie Smith, Sylvester,   Miles Davis, Tupac, MJJ, Billie Holiday & the Four Tops to Name a few...  Alvin Ailey, Audre Lorde, Octavia E Butler & Basquiet   &  In sporting news  Flo-Jo  The fastest woman of all time  &   Venus carries on the legacy of Althea Gibson  &   Jackie Robinson hits more home runs   &  Muhammad Ali  Pretty bumblebee   Brings another opponent to his knees  & Let us not forget the  Magazines   Ebony & Jet & Black Enterprise   Covers every photo every word between  Advertisements for Afro sheen, Jheri curls &   Pretty girls wearing Iman cosmetics   Even though we all know under all that   Hair grease, rouge and lipstick  Black is beautiful!  You know I had to say it...  &  Who said hero worship was bad for us?  We the people   We need our gods  We need these relationships  Crave these fellowships  Value our kinships are  Thankful for our mentorships   So around this time   Every year   We renew our subscriptions &   Annual memberships...  NAACP  United Negro College fund  National Black Justice Coalition   My Brothers Keeper  Sister Love  Black Youth Project   Black Alliance for Justice Immigration   Million Hoodies  The Innocence Project  Color of Change  And so many many many many more...     But in all this praising...  Rejoicing & being exceedingly glad   Let us not forget the folks   Closest to our hearts...  When we celebrate the celebrated  Let us also elevate the often negated   Those precious Souls relegated to the role of &  Somehow always rising above &  So very deserving of   The title   The distinction   The recognition   The appellation   Mother   Father   Son   Daughter   Cousin   Aunt   Uncle   Nephew   Niece   Grandmother   Grandfather   Sister   Brother   Friend  Remember the  Neighbor down the street, whether   She sleeps in a house or   On a cardboard sheet  Remember   The lawyer & the dentist &   The plumber & the gardener &   The bus driver who greets you   Every evening on your way home from work     Remember all these & more &  Handle with care  All who recite this prayer   We shall overcome &  Do overcome   Whatever they can overcome   To all of you    Yesterday   Today &   Tomorrow... Forever   Be true  We salute you   &  Yes I know we ain’t  Overcame all that needs to be  Overcome  There is still much more   Overcoming yet still to do... & the   Doing we must do... but the  Good Book say   &  I believe this to be true... this  Race ain’t given to the swift  &  We all need to work this shift cause   Each moment can be turned into   A gift   Can’t nobody honestly say  We ain’t come a long way  That’s what we pausing here today   To do  Celebrate   With Gratitude   Our gifts  Cause when a  Brother can rise to become president  That sets a new precedent   Shirley Chisholm ran too  Back in 1972  &  President Barack Obama did right by her   Called her name &  Awarded her her due  Acts like these help  Everyone stand a little taller   Brethren colored in golden chocolate hues &   Everyone else too  So don’t get distracted...  A few guns, hoses and frightened   narrow minded congressional opposes   Can’t stop this march forward   This flashlight exposes all who raid the   Innocence of peace and hope &   Progress forward  So tonight as you lay upon your bed of roses  Blood trickling as your crown of thorns imposes   On insides raw & bare & bruised   Remember what this prose is  Remember their names   Remember what they became  Remember that deep down   We are all the same...  But most importantly...  Remember how we overcame  Adversity   Cause if we overcame before   We can overcome again &   again &  Again  Let the church say  Amen
6.
A few years ago I wrote an article for a newspaper in Guyana.  The essay titled “Homosexuals... Dirty Words...  and Me” described my journey to self acceptance.   A piece like that, from me, would never have made it onto an editor’s desk without James Baldwin.  He changed the way I saw myself and consequently changed the course of my life.   My journey began long before we met in Giovanni’s Room,  but it was James Baldwin who dared speak its name, giving voice to feelings that churned just below the surface of my being.  It was he who explained the fine print near the bottom of the contract my genes signed, long before my birth.  He then went on to narrate, in graphic poetic clarity, the path my life would take if my mind couldn’t or wouldn’t accept.  I don’t remember how I found this elegant novel, but after that first reading, I knew, even though I couldn’t remember much of the story’s details, something had changed within me.   A door had opened, I could feel rays of sunlight shining on my face, my arms, my thighs and my feet.  Prior to James Baldwin, I’d been stumbling around in my own private, eternal night, bumping into walls and men.  I‘d sat in those bars surrounded by those tongues that sliced air like razorblades, even as bitter tasting drinks burned holes out of my insides.  I’d been that guy who stood ashamed in that smelly darkness because he was too afraid to love.    James Baldwin wasn’t only describing Giovanni’s room, he was describing my own.  His observations, so vivid, so precise, so clear, were so true.  He articulated this sense of a world, the parameters of which I was completely deaf and blind to.  I was constantly crossing a line, invisible as electricity to me, but which nonetheless burned and shocked me, for those boundaries, imperceptible to me, were as real as the pain that paralyzed me - body, mind and soul.  James Baldwin handed me a map, one I could read and understand.  This society, I heard him say, often pressures us, for whatever reason, to conform - to ignore and mistrust our impulses... our instincts... our very nature.  And even though, for many of us, these messages never truly resonate, we often give into this peer pressure.  James Baldwin admonished me to be brave, to trust my voice, accept the view from my own standpoint and most importantly to love.   Others may see things differently, but that is only because they are standing in different locations.  Honoring our whole selves is vital to our happiness here on earth.  Accepting that we are fundamentally good and right just as we are, just where we stand, is crucial to our peace of mind.  Anything we could ever want or need grows out of this very sacred space.     Thank you James Baldwin for giving me the gift of me. 
7.
I was searching for an   Avenue...  A lane I could live on...   Some grain I could bid on...   Help balance this world’s   Protons neutrons and electrons... a Place with a vegetable garden and a  Library where words, scribbled on   Love’s parchment paper could feel at   home...  I’d been writing   Letters to myself  Postcards from my soul  Mailed from my ancestors sequestered in other realms  Finer and almost perpendicular to this one  Spirits communing nightly  Poetry  Falling like rain  Eyelids closed, my body slept  On this parched bed of earth  Dreaming and coaxing new things to   Grow and sprout and blossom   Climb the steeple   Ring the bell   Water the soil  Cultivate and propagate and    Feed the people cause   People need people      In this memory  I walk along main street   With its church and courthouse   Sneak behind alley side street  Exposed rear ends... buildings   Lifting skirts and dropping trousers  To display their garbage cans banging   Filling the atmosphere with misery, stench and reality tv  I jump the fence and skip  Downtown on the D train   Crowded, loud, and noisy  Sponsoring banks and bars and drinks  Intoxicating   Intoxicated   I stumble back uptown   To parks and penthouses   I woke up   In your drive way  One rainy day  You opened the gate  Lined with ancient trees  Skin wrinkled like bark and trunks   Wide enough to fit a house   Wooden dresser and comb   I liked the scent of your home   Purple lilac and lace  God bless this place  Surrounded by   Honey shrubs and hickory buds  In the flower garden  I sipped Ajiri tea  Leaves hand-picked  Farmers in Kenya  There I underwent a transformation   Wisdom of the ages  Wisdom of the sages  Huddled together   Gathered round the center   Mystic call of the drum    Spark Fire Wood Metal Earth Water   Sacred daughter   Radiant sun  Author   Love   Lift us higher... alter  Light warm form  1 circle   One globe  Limbs hugging one another  Giving strength to aid each other  Divine harmony  Songs sailing into the night  Meditating under the stars  Mars Jupiter and the   Moon full   Teacher preacher   Poetess prophet  Storyteller  Wisdom dweller  Healer  Seeing the world... not as she is  But as he could be  They them us  Together   One hand clasping another   Hand assisting another   Hand on another hand   Washing dishes in the sink   Weathering yet another storm   Together    Moments are forever   My channel hope found   I tuned in daily   Your radio station nourished  Marquee words reading   “What you get, give...”  Blinking on and off and on  Miss Maya   You taught me  Reach down reach up reach out   Stretch and be your best self  No need to change clothes to go down the road...   Come as you are and your family will love you  Thank you   Dr. Maya Angelou  Phenomenal woman  Caged bird singing loudly  Proudly  Still I rise  I pray today  With grace and hope  I too, until the day I return to clay will say   Simply  Good morning
8.
I was walking alone, along Christopher street, when James Baldwin and E. Lynn Harris, who had been out, on a mission to rescue lost boys, found me.  This was back in the day when that infamous bit of paved asphalt, off NYC’s West Side Highway, opened its arms (and doors), to kids like me.  I was a college student, studying hard to maintain honors, but not understanding anything in my world.  I had a bag on my back, heavy and weighed down with questions.  Anyone bothering to look would have guessed it full of textbooks, but Baldwin and Harris knew better.  They could sense a confused gait anywhere.  They called me by my name, tapping my shoulder with words, their meanings so familiar I recognized them immediately as friends.  This was an invitation to a house party.  Everything would be revealed there and then.  So I put myself together as best I could and showed up, forefinger eager to ring the door bell of this historic edifice of brownstone.  The street had a great many trees, giving it an air of peaceful seclusion and something comforting, like lemonade on a summer afternoon.  I would later identify this sweet taste as self-acceptance.  Mr. Harris opened the door and, resting on me that famous smile, guided me through the foyer into the living room.  It was surprisingly expansive, with an open, breezy feel.  For me, it was like walking into another world.  Between introductions, I gazed around at the walls.  After all, walls mirror and house the soul of a home.  On these walls I witnessed African masks hanging side by side art, paintings so dark and beautiful I felt myself being pulled, drawn to them by some unseen force.  Was it curiosity or something more primal.  Africa’s secret past...  Our hidden history  Solve this mystery  How could one not   Recognize ancestors  The  Yoruba’s “adofuro”   &   Nigeria’s “yan daudu”  Uganda’s “mudoko dako”   &   Senegal’s “gor-digen”  &   Seated in the center on a throne  King Mwanga ll  Adodi  “Boy-Wives and Female-Husbands”  Images of...  His  Hands  Holding his  Hands in villages    His hands enfolding his hands   In huts round the continent  His hands brushing his hands  As he braids his hair  His hands lifting his hands  Pulling him closer   Pulling him near   Pot of cassava boils  Brightly colored beads, palm oils  Parting hair and planting seeds  Gift of cows and cowrie shells  Hands reaching down into wells  Of time and space now   Touching my face  Warm beautiful hands  This man’s hands  Outstretched...  Welcoming me  African God  Warrior of human sexuality    Standing tall and mighty and proud  Spear glistening   Intricate wooden points spanning the spectrum of our humanity   African Goddess  Bless us all   Soft effeminate men everywhere  The vision past as quickly as it came, and I was back in this charming parlour.  The buzz of conversation, and the names of these men I’d just been introduced to, coming back to me... wait was I dreaming?  The Harlem Renaissance was alive and well...  at one corner Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, Claude McKay, Wallace Thurman, Richard Bruce Nugent and Alain Locke sat on Victorian style chairs, relating the rebirth of African-American arts in the 1920s and 30s.  They called it the New Negro Movement, and endeavored to uplift the race, so there was little space to interject sexuality into their writings even with the use of codes and other subversive tactics.   James Baldwin and Bayard Rustin stood near open windows debating civil rights in the 1950s and 60s.  Hardcover copies of “Go Tell It on the Mountain” and “Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone” lay sprawled on antique side tables beside them.  The novelist conversing with the pacifist who transported the message of nonviolent resistance from Gandhi to Martin Luther King, and who, from the court records, paid the price for living the life Baldwin so often wrote about.  At another corner AIDS activists and poets alike gathered together, publicly dissecting their lives as African-American gay men, in the 1980s and 90s, their tongues finally untied.  Essex Hemphill, James Beam, Marlon Riggs, Melvin Dixon and Assotto Saint convened around a coffee table covered with books like “Brother to Brother: Collected Writings by Black Gay Men”, “Does Your Momma Know About me?” and “Here to Dare...”  It was into this milieu that E. Lynn Harris now strode, bringing with him new characters to add to this plot, new novels to add this burgeoning library.   Hunky football player Basil followed protagonist Raymond, who now joined Baldwin’s David and beautiful, sad Giovanni on the love seat.  It was a curious mixture of black and white standing and sitting side by side.  At that very moment, the grandfather clock in the hall began to chime.  Midnight.  I didn’t realize it was this late, I had classes in the morning... so I rose to find my hosts and thank them for an enlightening evening.    What an epiphany  “Invisible Life”  What a beautiful symphony   Husband no wife  I was ok   I am ok  “Just as I am”  The door bell signaled new arrivals.  But I would hear about those new authors later, the ones who kept the tradition alive and well into 2000s and beyond. The ones who joined the party and helped it swell and overflow out onto the streets.  As my feet hit the pavement, a vinyl record began to spin, turning round and round on someone’s stereo.  Needle touched groove, almost in time with my steps, and Sylvester’s falsetto filled the night air.  I smiled and looked back at the door I’d just come out of.  All the characters and all the men were now dancing... together.
9.
Poetry doesn’t always require rhyme.  Sometimes the simple facts posses a beauty of their own.  The progress of our sisters, in leadership around the world, for me, is such a poem.  We do not need to go back as far as Cleopatra and Joan of Arc, a few hundred years would suffice.   I admit, up until a few months ago, I was ignorant of my women’s history.  So today’s is a beginner’s course, because we all must begin somewhere.  Yes this is slow progress, but what progress isn’t... Now pray let us speak their names, least, in all the madness gathering about us, we get distracted, and forget... 1850 Sojourner Truth speaks at the first National Women’s Rights Convention. 1863 Harriet Tubman, during the Civil War leads the first female directed armed assault, liberating more than 750 slaves. 1869 Julia Addington becomes the first woman elected to public office in Iowa and probably in United States.  During her 2 years in office, 17 new schools are built. 1887 Added to the ballot without her knowledge, Susanna Salter beats the odds and wins, becoming the first woman elected Mayor.   1916 Jeannette Pickering, a pacifist, is the first woman elected to Congress.  She is instrumental in initiating legislation granting voting rights to women. 1923 New Mexico's Soledad Chávez de Chacón becomes the first Latina elected to statewide executive office. 1924 Michigan’s Cora Belle Reynolds Anderson becomes the first Native American woman elected to a state legislature. 1929 West Virginia’s Minnie Buckingham Harper becomes the first African American woman elected to a state legislature. 1933  Frances Perkins is the first woman to hold a Presidential Cabinet position.  During her term as Secretary of Labor, she is responsible for inaugurating social security, welfare and the minimum wage.  1960 - 1969 Modern era welcomes its first female Prime Ministers in Sri Lanka, India and Israel. 1973  Lelia Foley-Davis becomes the first African American woman elected Mayor. 1974  Boston’s Elaine Noble becomes the first openly LGBT candidate elected to a state legislature.  She is also part of the first LGBT delegation invited to the White House. 1974 - 1975 Argentina welcomes the first female President and Central African Republic its first female Prime Minister.   1975  Ella T. Grasso becomes the first female Governor not married to a previous Governor, and is re-elected for a second term. 1977  Patricia Roberts Harris becomes the first African American woman to hold a Presidential Cabinet position and later is the first to represent the United States as an Ambassador. 1979 - 1982 Great Britain, Portugal, Dominica and Norway elect their first female Prime Ministers.   Iceland and Malta elect their first female Presidents. 1986 The “Mother of Asian Democracy” Corazon Aquino becomes the first female president of the Philippines.   1988 Benazir Bhutto becomes the first female Prime Minister of a Muslim country.  She helps move Pakistan from dictatorship to democracy.   1990 - 1999 Ireland, Nicaragua, Burundi, Guyana, Latvia, Panama and Switzerland welcomed their first female Presidents.   Lithuania, Bangladesh, France, Poland, Canada, Rwanda, Turkey, Haiti and New Zealand elect their first female Prime Ministers. 1992  Boston’s Althea Garrison becomes the first transgender person elected to a state legislature. 1992  Chicago’s Carol Moseley Braun becomes the first African American woman elected to the United States Senate.    1993 Janet Reno becomes the first female Attorney General of the United States and commissions a report on wrongful convictions and how DNA evidence could help exonerate the innocent. 1997  Madeleine Albright becomes the first female Secretary of State, at this time, the highest-ranking woman in the history of the U.S. government. 2001- 2006 Finland, Indonesia, Chile and Liberia  elect their first female Presidents. Senegal, São Tomé and Príncipe, Peru, Macedonia, Mozambique, Ukraine, Jamaica and South Korea welcome their first female Prime Ministers. Germany elects it’s first female Chancellor. 2007 Nancy Pelosi becomes the first female House Speaker and rallies her Democratic caucus around the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which provides healthcare to nearly 20 million previously uninsured Americans.  2008 Annise Parker becomes the first openly LGBT individual elected Mayor of major American city.   2008 - 2009  Moldova and Croatia elect their first female Prime Ministers. 2009 Sonia Sotomayor becomes the first Hispanic person to serve on the United States Supreme Court, and proves to be a strong voice for criminal justice reform. 2010 - 2012 Australia, Slovakia, Trinidad and Tobago, Denmark, Mali and Thailand elect their first female Prime Ministers. Costa Rica, Kyrgyzstan, Kosovo and Malawi elect their first female Presidents. 2013 Tammy Baldwin becomes the first openly LGBT person elected to the United States Senate. 2013 - 2015 Slovenia, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Brazil and Mauritius elect their first female Prime Ministers. 2016 Hillary Clinton becomes the first woman nominated by a major party for President of the United States. 2017 The Women’s March on Washington becomes the largest single day protest in American history, drawing up to 5 million people worldwide. I pause here, but the story does not end here.  There are many more firsts to come, and even though they are not as spectacular - seconds, thirds fourths and fifths are just as important.   Sisters, your progress is our progress.  Women are running for office in record numbers.  I believe the government should reflect the people it serves.  Ladies I support you!  Happy Women’s History Month.
10.
Hurt people hurt people... Sexism It is an ignorant man who tries to ignore the equality of women and men Racism It is an imprisoned mind that tries to imprison another’s mind Transphobia  It is a battered soul who tries to batter another soul Ageism  It is an impaired person who tries to impair another person  Disability Discrimination   It is a crippled view that cannot offer help to another in need  Homophobia It is a deprived heart that tries to deprive another of their rights   Xenophobia It is a tortured human being who tries to bully another human being   Classism It is an impoverished, depressed attitude that tries to impoverish and depress   I could go on but I think you get the idea... My Personal Response Notice the phrase “tries to”.  When someone tries to hand me trash, I have the option of refusing it, and if I feel I can’t refuse, I can dump it in the nearest trash can.  There is no need to drowned in another’s garbage, and besides people can and do change so...   As I fight the good fight, I can grip the hand of faith and hope that imprisoned brothers and sisters are on a journey to freedom, ignorant children on their way to enlightenment, and ailing brethren on a path of healing.  Indeed the whole needs the left and right, bottom and top, middle and fringes, and compassion is the glue. But this is a story for your children to tell their children and grandchildren... yes? Yes and maybe we can begin to write the first lines...
11.
A Diva is a queen who painstakingly fine tunes her gifts into one fabulous dream we share all around the world.  Her talent is understanding human nature.  She expresses what we dare not, and in the expressing, shows us who we really are.  She is a star who gives of herself... her emotions, her voice, her body, her life... to the spotlight a thirsty public shines and directs.  We love her for this and she loves us for loving her. Our favorite divas may not share the same names or faces, but these great women allow us all to form bonds with people we’ve never met and confront the dark side together.  Music plays such a universal role.  Thank you divas for all these precious little moments. Your music is indeed the soundtrack of life. “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” My first diva discovered me, one dreary Sunday evening, in Guyana.  I was at the home of a family friend, with my parents and siblings, enjoying dinner and a movie.  The movie turned out to be Diana Ross Live at Caesar’s Palace.  Need I say more?  “I’m So Excited” During school lunch breaks, some of us kids would head over to the Chinese restaurant.  I didn’t have money to eat there, but I would find money for that jukebox.  I can still hear the electric arms clicking and whirling, moving this record from The Pointer Sisters into place. “How Will I Know” I remember standing in front of my piano teacher’s gate, when this song came floating through the neighborhood.  It felt so familiar, like I’d heard it before, but I’m pretty sure I hadn’t.  That was the power of her voice... melismas... tone... power...  range... truth.  I worshiped daily at the alter of Whitney Houston. “Fast Car” In Trinidad, April was the one in our group always up on the latest music.  It was she who first piped up, expressing love for Tracy Chapman’s folky hits, her eyes lighting up as she recited these honest melodies. “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” We used to tape songs off the radio and share them.  Somehow this classic gem from Patti Austin found its way into my collection.  I remember one evening playing it over and over again, drawing my enquiring mom to my door.  What did her 16 year old son know about these things? I didn’t know... but I understood sadness.  This tune caressed my longing to feel like I truly belonged... all of me, not just the acceptable version I had learned to display. “How Can I Ease the Pain” I lived in Brooklyn now with an aunt and went to community college in the Bronx.  Each morning a 10 minute walk lay between apartment and subway.  Lisa Fischer and her gravity defying voice kept me company during those times when I was new to this city.  The following year, I saw her perform and absolutely lost my mind and my cool. “Feels Like Another One“ I would stay in the library after classes, studying.  98.7 Kiss FM was my constant friend, filling my headphones with radio favorites and energy.  It was on one of these afternoons that the Godmother of Soul - Miss Patti LaBelle premiered her new single.  I’m pretty sure the version I heard started with her acapella voice burning down the scale... my mouth fell open.   “Compositions” I couldn’t get the plastic wrapping off this cassette fast enough.  It disappeared into my Walkman releasing rich contralto goodness into my soul.  Anita Baker is everything... pure and simple.   “Simply The Best” Tiny Turner must be the 12th wonder of the world.  I watched her descend those stairs at Radio City, a woman in her 50s, looking great and belting out hit after hit all while dancing, giving 300% and making me feel like she was having the time of her life. “Janet” I rang in the new year with Janet Jackson, and 15,000 other fans at Madison Square Garden.  This was a departure from socially conscious Rhythm Nation, but sensuous play felt authentic too.  Afterwards I raced cross town to get to work.  I was late, but it was so worth it.   “Pearls” My roommate Sean and I would make our Thursday night pilgrimage to the Sound Factory Bar.  This Sade remix was a 90s mainstay.  At first listen, it seems a bit contradictory... such a sensitive song, about a woman in Somalia, in a club.  But these dens of iniquity serve many purposes, and for me, a young man coming to terms with his sexuality, it was a place of community, a space to come together to dance, one of oldest rituals of prayer known to human beings.  I would wait all night for the DJ to mix those first chords with that state-of-the-art lighting... refrain echoing over our lifted hands “Hallelujah...” “Our Love” Now that I had my LGBT card, I was required, or least so I thought, to workout and maintain my membership.  New York City Parks & Recreation offered affordable frills-free gyms.  So 5 days a week, I would trek from our East Village flat to do battle with dumbbells and barbells, old school joints streaming through the sound system speakers to massage soar muscles.   This Natalie Cole track, that Mary J. Blige paid tribute to, was one of my favorites. “Shout” By the time this TLC record came out, I was living in a Staten Island studio that showcased a long, narrow hallway that led to kitchen and bathroom.  At night, headphones from my new Discman intact, I would wear the carpet along that corridor out. “Baby Boy” I was visiting my best friend April in Maryland when the “Ladies First” tour swung into town.  I wasn’t keen on seeing it, but I’m glad we got tickets.  It was good to see black female artists co-headlining.  I also enjoyed the spectacular, from the cheap seats, of Beyonce being ferried to the stage, on canopied Egyptian litter, tossing flower petals to cheering fans as she passed through them on the shoulders of able-bodied men. “Golden” On a different note, it was a pleasant surprise to catch Miss Jill Scott nonchalantly strolling out onto the “Sugar Water Festival” stage, ahead of band members and minus any grand fanfare.  She was a breath of fresh air releasing a set spanning opera, jazz, neo soul and rhythm and blues, and I’ve been a devoted fan ever since.   “Everything Is Everything” I’d seen many artists at Wingate Park’s Concert Series and so when Sean and I heard who would be appearing, we were one of the first ones in line for this free show.  I loved “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill”...  but Miss Hill didn’t appear to share our enthusiasm and showed up 2 hours late, and then commenced to perform unrecognizable versions of her urban hymns.  Masses streamed out before she was through, puzzling over her newest reincarnation.  I scratched my head for a bit too, before recognizing I’d witnessed the Nina Simone of our generation.    "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” I recorded my first album back in 2001 and now started performing with a guitar named Blessed.  This acoustic instrument felt like a long lost friend, and we were in love.  This sweet ballad, from Roberta Flack, is one of the first covers Blessed taught me. “Soulbird Rise” Finally I have always been a believer in self improvement, so in 2013, I went on a weekend retreat in the hopes of... improving myself.  But at it’s completion, I felt more broken and disillusioned than I’d felt since pondering suicide on the 13th floor, almost 20 years earlier.  I had been trying to be something... someone I wasn’t.  Now I felt I was back in that dull room. Thankfully every storm has a silver lining and this album, which I’d discovered at the retreat, reconnected me with India.Arie.  Together we reaffirmed the importance of honoring our own boundaries.  Living a life founded on who we truly are, and holding the exclusive rights and privileges of determining and discovering who that person, looking back at us from the mirror is.   In the end I realized self improvement is a myth... the self cannot be improved, it is perfect as it is.  Our work is to recognize this truth and grow into who we are. 
12.
Ladies  Gentlemen &  Non-binary souls The moment is here    All across our planet the Tango with time is  Slowing to a  Pause  In a matter of seconds Day & night will be equals In time... length & duration Illuminated equally Southern & northern hemispheres  Take up their respective places Equator prepares to venture & Dance into sun’s center 3-2-1 The gates swing open... Spring is here Ishtar Queen of heaven Goddess of Love &  Beauty &  Sex &  Desire &  Justice Emerges No longer a prisoner  She is free to leave the underworld & Ascend to Her throne  Bringing with Her  An abundance... All the leaves &  Flowers &  Fruit Birds sing  Insects buzz & pollinate &  Bears come out of hibernation  The  Warm rays of summer are on their way This is... A rebirth  A symbol  A sign A memo written on the sands of time    When life knocks you out And you’re down for the count  Remember... One day The gates will swing open & You will emerge from this underworld Reborn too Rise to the heavens  To begin again  Anew  Afresh There will be an abundance... Flowers & fruit  & Birds will sing 
13.
I dance at night In a basement  Music pounding  Soca vibrations sounding  Sweet to the taste Sweets provoke my waist Sweat drips down Body strips down Towels wait behind the door Cause I aim to leave it  All on this makeshift dance floor After midnight  In the darkness   It’s only me And the drums And the bass And the horns And the keys Chords and chorus Rhymes created for us  And that church organ  Jamming in the background  This House hypnotizes me This Reggae symphony  Baptizes me in the river  In the track In the groove In the pocket Socket to me now  Pause cause  I need to breathe... Eyes closed Loop me... Chest exposed  Sample me... Arms flailing Remix me... Muscles wailing Remake me... Feet stomping Rewind me... Hips gyrating  Replay me... Speakers thumping Over and over and over again... Mouth open Loop me... Lips smiling Sample me... Heartbeat racing  Faster and faster  Gods of Funk Voices chanting rhythms  Visions Speaking in tongues Lyrical phenomenons  Spirit of Shango  Lightning and thunder  Afro beat beneath my feet Turn the dial left 4 Higher bandwidths  Higher frequencies  Higher planes Villages of ancestral domains  Calling forth the rains Come forth Come now  Fall down & Water this parched earth with... Peace.
14.
I want to shout out 3 poets who guided me  3 poets whose pages inspired me To write, share, develop  My own formula for truth I already mentioned Godmother  Maya Angelou Extending a good word to help  Lift the people up onto higher ground Now let me show sum love to another  Mother Nikki Giovanni showed me how Poetry could be easy  Like Sunday morning... I found Utopia Turning digital page after page Devouring meals prepared in the kitchen of her soul Encouraged I went in search of other poets and found  A kindred sister Alex Elle  Lighting candles around the block with her  Healing Neon Soul  Short verses reading like lullabies I played through the night until the sun rose at dawn
15.
The blacker the berry The sweeter the juice The poorer the people The deeper the abuse Swing Duke Ellington Swing that jazz Swing Louis Armstrong Big band jazz   I say the blacker the berry The sweeter the juice The darker the people The tighter the noose Play Count Basie Play them keys Jam Minton’s Playhouse Dizzy Gillespie Strange Fruit hanging there From that tree Strange Fruit hanging there For all to see Sing Lady Day Sistah sang that song  Sing for the people Sing all night long Lush life feeling blue  Drink the pain away Lush life lost his man  Sits in bars all day Write Billy Strayhorn Write that song Write for those who can’t sing  Right here you belong  Segregation  Discrimination  Proclamation but  No emancipation  Thelonious Monk  High Priest of Bop Charlie Parker and sax Bepop don’t stop  In the south, they don’t care how close you get As long as you don’t get too high In the north, they don’t care how high you get As long as you don’t get too close Sing Lady Ella First Lady of Song Rockin' in Rhythm Vocal jazz groove along  Old King Cole was a merry old soul and A merry old soul was he Nat King Cole was a mighty good soul and a mighty great soul in deed Play Tito Puente Latin Jazz mambo king João Gilberto Bossa nova guitar string Step out of the kitchen If you can’t stand the heat But if I leave the kitchen Then how we gonna eat Jazz funk Roy Ayers Funk it down and out for me Jazz fusion Herbie Hancock Shift the tempo change the key  Bitches Brew  Witches stew Miles Davis knew  So what you wanna do? Free Jazz John Coltrane Free jazz today Birth of the Cool Cool jazz I say The blacker the berry   The sweeter the juice The poorer the people The deeper the abuse  The deeper the abuse  The stronger the roots The blacker the berry   The sweeter the juice
16.
Plastic Once considered fantastic  Is having a drastic effect On our environment  You can read all the gory details here Disclaimer It will probably cause you fear  And rightly so…  This epidemic is here to stay unless  We on this Earth Day Change the way we behave  Change starts with me So it’s paper bags when I go to the grocery As a matter of fact  I’ll bring my own reusable shopping bags  They don’t cost much They’re practically free and  Help reduce pollution out there at sea The pollution that is making its way… Back into our bodies Through the water flowing to our sinks Through this cup of water that I drink  You see  Plastic doesn’t decay or biodegrade It just gets smaller and smaller Becoming micro-plastics that stick around and Consequently can be found in everything... That grilled fish on your plate Could be contaminated With dangerous chemicals called phthalates Hiding in straws you sip drinks through… If only more people knew Disposable cups filled with… The coffee and tea you’re consuming  Grooming daily with polypropylene and polyethylene Hanging out of toothpaste and face wash Wish swash all the while assuming The waste will be picked up and discarded In its rightful place  But if we stop to think... What place could that possibly be? A landfill or out in the sea Wherever we throw our trash It just comes floating back to you and me Increasing the risk of obesity and early puberty Chromosomal and reproductive abnormalities, diabetes, Cancer and increasing resistance to chemotherapy  That’s why it’s reusable bottles of water for me  And filling my thermos with homemade tea  I’m sure you will agree I don’t absolutely need a straw since We can easily see how it could end up As washed-up debris I’ll also continue to recycle everything I can and Donate what I can no longer use and Spend sometime on YouTube learning how to better Reduce and reuse Of course when strolling down the isles  I’ll read the labels and Avoid the above mentioned chemicals So what about you... What one thing can you do? Give Mother Earth back her due Every little bit helps So pick one and Do your best to follow through It may not seem like much, but You never know how many people you can touch with Small acts of kindness, like these… like little ripples Floating out to sea You can help change the tide of our humanity
17.
Yesterday April 27 Students across United States Walked hallways  Silently  Shining a light on an epidemic  Silencing our LGBTQ youth No one should be made to feel  Silenced... mouths closed might never speak again GLSEN helps bring an end to Lips sealed tight by fright, flight and fights Tongues glued in place and Tears of frustration streaming down one’s face  I want to live in a world where everyone:  lesbian, trans, bi, gay, straight, queer, genderqueer, questioning, asexual, intersex, and all yet to be discovered identities and sexualities are free to express who they are... Yes this is a rainbow vision of our society, but the rainbow only appears after the rain has fallen, the storm passed, and the sun begins to shine through the clouds again...
18.
What is an Emotional City?  It is the metropolis your feelings have built up inside you.   Like a physical city, emotional cities house high rises and ghettos.  The sun shines in the day and stars mix with electrical bulbs to illuminate the night.  There is opportunity and pollution and sometimes crime.  The weather can be pleasantly warm like summer days or freezing like winter storms that arise and demolish entire zip codes.  There are streets that are safe to walk, and traffic lights that will stop you with memories of loss and heartache.   Your mood travels from neighborhood to neighborhood, affecting your spirit.  Your spirit never sleeps, but if you nourish it well, it will lead you to still waters.  It is here, by the rivers running deep, that you tend to the needs of your emotional city.   Like any city, there must be laws for everyone’s safety, city limits to define boundaries, and effective waste to dispose of toxins, so they don’t build up.  An effective educational system, communication network and utilities help everyone live their best lives. The mind, like a good mayor, can only govern by paying attention to your needs.  The mind must visit daily with the residents of your emotional city to discover what those needs are.  Every city is unique and every resident is special... listen and find peace.
19.
No it’s not a mental disorder.  Introversion simply means I recharge by spending time alone, as opposed to extroverts who recharge by spending time in the company of people.  If I spend too much time hanging out with people, my battery loses its charge and I cease to function.  I get irritable, I snap, I growl, I bite, and if contact persists, I fall into a mental coma.   My dear extroverted friend April can tell you the stories... one moment standing in the sunshine, and the next, caught in torrents of rain and icy conditions, skidding along slippery roads into ditches.   We would begin the weekend on equal footing.  The going would be good and all the activity and interaction would power her up, so she could keep on going and going.  Me the other hand, unaware I was heading to empty, would try to keep pace, but sooner or sooner, I would fall behind.  Not realizing I needed to slow down and find a quiet corner to recharge, I would press on into an array of community affairs, pushing the petal to the metal, until inevitably I would come sputtering to a stop.   From April’s viewpoint, it must have looked like someone had flipped my switch off - one minute talking and laughing, and the next, withdrawn and sullen.  Thankfully now I know better.  We all need time alone, but we introverts need a bit more.  So now I pace myself, I respect my boundaries and recognize when I am fading, so I can give myself the time I need to recharge.
20.
I've lived in many villages during my time on earth... There was the village of shame... filled with dust, degradation and dirt roads, probably because I always looked down.  The village of fear terrified me, surrounded as it was, by deep, dense forests and nightly sounds.  I never identified the wild animals that growled and snarled, but I knew they must be lurking close by.   On the other hand, the village of love tasted like grandma’s home cooking - yams, cassava and coconut milk simmering together in a pot by an open fire, while the village of hope possessed sweet aromas, like ripening mangos on the tree.   But the place I cherished the most was the village of gratitude.  It felt like a warm blanket wrapping round my shoulders, as I gazed up at the stars of Orion. From this perspective, I realized all the villages shared the same dusty, dirt roads.  Deep forests encircled them all... with wild animals and ripening fruit a plenty.  In their bosoms, loving grandmothers always cooked over open fires, while keeping an eye on their young ones wrapped in warm blankets.   So if their physicalities shared so many similarities, why did I feel like dancing, every time I stepped foot into the village of gratitude... regardless of whether the rain was falling or the sun shinning... I was smiling. 
21.
Ancient civilizations regarded writing as magic  Making the intangible tangible  Priests moving hands and Where before there was space  Markings appear Ideas, memories, feelings, dreams  Flowing from the invisible mind  Through forearms and fingers  Materializing along lines into  Visibility...  I view writing as ritual prayer The thread connecting me to answers  Life is the test Journals Connecting dots and  Like a child  Pencil in hand  I begin... Dot to dot A tentative shaky line Dot to dot A hint of an outline  Dot to dot Present and future align Dot to dot The past does not define Dot to dot Another day another page Dot by dot Another book another stage Dot by dot I chip away at the rubble Dot by dot I strip away all the trouble and Patiently awaiting Beneath decayed confusion Maybe centuries old... A gem A priceless antique A relic from another time period Unearthed... Finally seeing the light of day We are right to say Hindsight is 20/20 Now, I realize  How many times... I passed the test How many times... I did my best How many times... You did the rest How many times... We were truly blessed How many times... We are truly blessed  So many times... So behind this desk I sit In my PJs... a decent writing outfit Ready to face this excavation pit  Paper permit in hand now The examination begins and... Life morphs into art  My soul is the chart Forever preserved in  The museum of a simple journal entry… 

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Recordings of my poetry project 2018.

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released June 1, 2018

Written & performed by Nhojj

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Nhojj Orlando, Florida

Singer/songwriter and poet wading through the rivers of R&B, soul, jazz, and reggae.

My intention is to create sonic spaces where you can experience yourself through the lens of love and acceptance.

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