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On Heaven’s Gate, I discovered what a mental stimulant physical labor could be; not mere physical labor, I should add, but absolutely spine-bending, lung-racking, gut-ripping, ligament-tearing, and ball-breaking physical labor. But as long as the task is both onerous and repetitive, I discovered, the mind is not only free to wander to more imaginative climes, it actually flees to higher planes.

Thus, on Heaven’s Gate, as I dredged bottom scum from the slop canals under the red gaze of Vega Primo or crawled on hands and knees through stalactites and stalagmites of rebreather bacteria in labyrinthine lungpipes, I became a poet.

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