John Trigonis: Warehouse City Noir

John Trigonis | Warehouse City Noir

It‘s 1955. You’re sitting in a diner where the blinds allow stripes of light to enter the windows and illuminate fractions of your face. It’s probably raining out, and everything is in black and white. This is the mood that permeates John Trigonis’ latest chapbook, Warehouse City Noir.

The title of the chapbook is derived from the cynical noir motif within his poetry, but the term ‘Warehouse City’ comes from a place where Trigonis spends a lot of his time, the Powerhouse Arts District of Jersey City, NJ. Warehouse City Noir is actually Trigonis’ second effort bearing the “Warehouse City” moniker. His first was a chapbook released in 2011 called Warehouse City Blues. His third chapbook of this series is titled Brokendown US: A Warehouse City Western, which is in the works and set to be released in 2013.

Trigonis, who is also a filmmaker, finds his inspiration in the tropes of the noir film genre. “It started with Humphrey Bogart, of course, then moved on to James Cagney and Edward G. Robinson, and now I‘m exploring Forgotten Noir and Hammer Noir.” More than a few of the poems in this book also take place in a diner-like setting, a fixture in NJ culture.

“At Closing Time” appeals to a particularly rich feeling of loneliness. A café waitress extinguishes candles at the end of the night, but leaves one lit for a patron who is a regular. Trigonis craftily paints a picture of solitude and revels in it by providing the image of a single burning flame, a cold, dark cup of coffee, and the diner who is given the task of blowing out his own light.

“Brunch Menu at a Sad Café,” another exceptional poem from this collection, assigns food items the role of adjectives in a phenomenon that I can only describe as word alchemy. Trigonis describes a “greek salad afternoon,” “pulled pork plans,” and “iced coffee thighs.” All of it is appetizing, but one line stands out: “How quickly the muffins of yesterday become/ the scones of today … “ That line reminds me, in particular, that we need to stop looking so deeply into our futures, as well as not to stare too long at all our yesterdays.

Warehouse City Noir brings a retro sensibility to a contemporary audience who, after reading this, may one day find themselves brooding in a diner somewhere over the shadows of a forgotten era.