Saturday, February 08, 2014

Compound Shenanigans

Yesterday, we were waiting for our dinner guests to arrive: I was sitting at the computer in the bedroom, Angela was in the kitchen cooking, and Vito was standing on a little chair looking out of the peephole in the front door. There was a bit more excitement than usual because the opening ceremony of the Sochi, Russia olympic games was going to be on television later.

Our guests arrived, but there wasn't the usual commotion in the apartment. In fact, it seemed like no one had entered. I could tell that the front door was open, and there was a ruckus in the hallway outside our apartment. I went out to look and Angela was chasing off a couple of kids who had been stirring up trouble in our building.

"Call security," she ordered.

Upon further investigation, I noticed that there were two crushed KFC paper cups on the stairwell and the steps were all wet. When I asked what was going on, Angela explained that two kids had been eating, climbing onto the roof and throwing down rocks and garbage on unsuspecting guests, and hiding in the storage closets when she came after them with a wooden spoon.

"Did you see them?" I asked, and she described the pair. A few weeks ago, I noticed a couple of kids matching her description eating in our stairwell when I arrived home from work. I didn't think anything of it at the time but, going out later that evening, I saw that they had left their trash on the steps where I had seen them.

I walked to the security office at the front of the compound and described what happened to the security guard on duty. He followed me to our building.

"There was a bike in front of the building," I revealed. "I took it."

"I will take the bike," the guard said while I was showing him the rubbish on the side of the building. I started to collect the crumpled bags and wrappers, but the guard told me to leave it. I guess he didn't want me to disturb the crime scene. We entered the building and, when I brought out the bike, Angela reiterated everything that I had already told the guard, but with the enthusiasm of a witness.

The guard left with the bike, and the rest of the evening continued without further incident. Somewhere between the parade of athletes and the lighting of the olympic torch, Angela recovered the garbage that the two kids had hurled off the side of the roof.

"Look what I found," she smiled, holding onto the rumpled KFC bag. Our guests and I took a closer look. "They left the receipt on the bag and their address is printed on it."

Friday, February 07, 2014

Doing Unto Myself

In surfing through some poetry blogs, I clicked across 'Sarabande' by Shannon Doyne, freelance writer and contributor to The Learning Network since 2008, on the "Poetry Pairing" blog, which appears to be part of a supplement to The New York Times. The weekly blog attempts to pair poems with articles that somehow augment or intersect each other. What's more, readers are asked to respond with additional suggestions or comments about how the poem could be connected to other content from the news source (a picture of what looks like a hand-written parchment, a pen, something blurry resembling a pocket watch and a pair of spectacles resting on a wooden table is included at the top of the post). It is their effort to bring more poetry to the daily lives of its readers, which is, perhaps, a noble effort. A recent post dated January 16, 2014 paired Lucie Thésée's poem "Sarabande" with an excerpt from "Beneath Martinique's Beauty, Guided by a Poet" by Sylvie Bigar.

I was immediately intrigued by a brief preface to Thésée's poem that mentioned how her writing began appearing in a publication by Aimé Césaire, a writer with whom I am lightly familiar having read and treasured Return to my Native Land many years ago. While I have no other impetus to respond to the article beyond the novelty of the coupling and my own interest in poetry, and previously unfamiliar with either author, I read the post with curiosity. Also, in trying to do as I had assigned my students to do, I was at least compelled to make meaning out of the multifaceted mix-up.

Still, after reading the offerings, my interest wasn't wrapped up in the marriage of ideas brought together by the triumvirate of picture, poem and prose. Even though a critic could argue that there was some merit in Thésée's poem, it did not suit my personal taste. Perhaps something was lost in Robert Archambeau's translation from the French, which poetry seems to suffer from more than other forms. Even though a historian may be roused by the memories of Martinique and the mass African removal brought about by the slave trade, Bigar's excerpt felt a little sentimental, especially when "overcome by melancholy," the author wrote at the end of the passage that she wept. Nonetheless, the idea of linking poetry to other texts—of cross-pollinating a conversation and entering a dialogue with the past—is still desireable, and I vow to return in the future to see what else might be tendered to suit my whimsy. The conversation is worth continuing...