Spring 2008

Table of Contents - Vol. VI, No. 1


Poetry    Interview    Translations    Fiction    Book Reviews

Gene van Troyer


Traffico Cognito

[1] Lojack

You've just looked at the dashboard for the time.
The evening rush. The engine mostly idles
as you creep along the freeway to the off ramp.
You think you're going home. You're pretty sure.
The sky is flush with sunset. The arrow on your GPS
says, "You Are Here." Lamp after lamp winks on
along the city streets. Hydrocarbons fill the dusky air.
Otherwise the weather's fine. "Within You, Without You"
softly plays its incantation on your stereo, your ears awash
with tabla and sitar riffs as you sit behind the wheel.
Nothing seems amiss as you motor down the byways
of the neighborhood, yet almost imperceptibly
the mood begins to change. You're standing at
your unlit door and feel the dormant air inside the empty
furnished rooms. The silent photos in their frames
are strange without their anchors. The family took
their pennies for the Boatman's ride and left you all alone.
You are here. The whispers in the air are like a lesion
on your brain. It's not your turn, they say. Sustain
yourself with reason. That's why you remain.

[2] Ranging

The photos of your loved ones watch your every move
from their places on your fireplace mantle. They watch you
from their picture frames that hang upon the walls
of every room. Their eyes apprise you from that world
across the great divide. Do they approve of how your reason
keeps you here at their request, despite the heartless vacuum?
You are here, their voices say. We pray that you will stay.
But you feel like you're a robot as you work through
programmed days. This isn't reason. Your brain's an exile
in a Bedlam, pounding at the padded cell. You wish it were just
circuit boards, hot with overuse. You might recode the software
of your intranet, and thereby reconcile your unfulfilled desire
to have them back. Five hundred channels on TV and Solitaire's
a bust. The booze and the one-night stands make you sick.
You surf the internet. It's tailor-made to let you dodge
the here and now. It all begins with just one click.
You are here and they are not. They are there and you
are not. Something's got to give. The family photos watch
as you reduce the world to an afterthought.


House of Morpheus

You wallow in a dream
of countless web pages
all a-swirl like sparkling
confetti in the crystal sphere
of your sleep-darkened skull
and you're the porcelain
figurine anchored at the vortex
of the storm [Mr. Morpheus
that scheming architect
has once more built a maze
of mirrors and window panes
that you did not expect

and you missed the map
at the entrance ‹you are here›
the locator would have said
instead you're in but have lost
the way out [this page
with its winking arrow link
‹click here› takes you to
another stage—its path a thread
of starlight through your head
like a bridge that inscribes
the start of your journey

[a red river flows at the brink
of nowhere and there beneath
your feet—you feel its heat rise
like the fever sweat sheening
your face—below you a trawler
keeps easy pace churning a wake
of pink foam [which window
should you gaze through
in this maze [is that mirror
the door back home—
they wiggle and tilt
reflecting nervous light—

is that you that you see ahead
leaning from a frame—
you feel anchored
to the center of things
and yet you move to be near
what you thought was you
the locator—the red dot
on the map ‹you are here›


© Gene van Troyer



Poetry    Interview    Translations    Fiction    Book Reviews

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