*The Future of Wallpaper* Christopher Jug George

His summer-brown smile haunts me. I sense him now, unlike before, he is closer to me. He is gone.

That Curly Haired Sleeping Being, That One Is Mine

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That Curly Haired Sleeping Being, That One Is Mine

My three-year-old daughter rose from her bed while sleeping. She pirouetted with Frankenstein arms out, a hitch in her step like a wooden toy with flexible legs. She walked a half-circle with her eyes closed, a dreaming ballerina that fell back onto my chest. What was that thing? An apparition? And I thought, ‘my god, this little person is my life.’

Those Little Ships

 

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Photo by  Christopher Jug George

 

Those Little Ships

By Christopher Jug George

            Trudy was usually so close to Bud’s ear that he was used to her speaking softly to him. “Sometimes I look at the sky, Bud, and think it’s the sea. All of that blue with puffy white ships passing by all day long.”

A year later Bud had become accustomed to Trudy yelling, her voice traveling along the walls or through window screens or down the stairs.  It made him think of the birds he would hear but could not see when he walked along the creeks in the surrounding Root River Valley.

Later, after she’d gone, he thought he could sometimes hear her sharp, sweet, chirping voice in the wind, carrying through those bluffs, believing it to be the sound of a ship blowing its horn in the distance.

He’d stand breathless, watching her sail across the backyard toward the woods where she would eventually slip in and disappear over the bluff with the sun and the moon. His body would point toward the woods when hearing branches crack, wondering if it was an animal or the wind or her.

He’d look at the swaying trees and subtly rock his body side to side in a lonely dance. He’d look up at the big clouds rolling through the sky above and soon he too began to imagine, as Trudy had told him, the clouds as ships, one after one, coming to pick her up at the top of the bluffs.

Later still, he started to wander the bluffs and get lost among the greens and browns of the valley. Looking up into the sky he started to imagine all of that blue to be the place all of the streams leading to, filling it up for the ships, for the clouds.

 

Earthling and Other Flashes

 

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Earthling

That auburn moment in that 70s living room when the carpet matched the color of the light coming through the window and I thought, “I’m on a planet!?”

 

 

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Dad


There is a ship that sailed the sea that became frozen in time. We all had to keep going, trudging through the seasons on our own. He used to take us everywhere.


 

 

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The world was green that day. All of it. The sky, the sun , the houses, the people. I don’t know. Maybe it was just me.

 

 

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The Man from the Thirties Standing on a Sidewalk in the Seventies

Standing on a crowded sidewalk, people rushed by and brushed his arms. His brown coat and green hat and brown pants looked like a spaceship sitting still on a planet that was only slightly different than the one he’d arrived from. It was a place so familiar. He was nearly knocked over a couple of times, he thought he might have hit the ground but his eyes could not waver from that place in the city. He had been there before.

 

 

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It is Much More Immediate/ I Want Nothing to End

It used to be gazing at things from a distance that interested me most. Whether it be a person, a house, a tree, a town, a forest, a hillside, a river, a portion of the earth, moon, or sun through clouds. Whether it’s this life that has crashed behind me, looking like the movie Weekend. If you want to know what my life looks like to me, go watch Weekend. That’s not how I see the future though. No. That is tree lined country roads with spurts of fences near beautiful rivers, that is your little face, immediate, and looking up at me.

 


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Half of This Night Is the Color of the Skin of a Dolphin in This Light

The rain ended in the middle of the street. You barely getting splattered with pouring rain making my hair shower wet and clothes as if I just crawled out of a lake. It was there that you said goodbye, walking away in the subtle glow of the street light in the yellow part of the world. You walked toward stairs and up them, your shoes finally disappearing just before the turquoise light had reached them.

 

 

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The Other Half of the Circle is an Illusion

I peered into an empty room and imagined us all sitting there. There was a din in the air from plows and howling wind. There was a glow in the air between us. I pictured movement of legs, arms, and contorting laughing faces as the sun went down. It was late afternoon, soon it would be dark and no one would be leaving the house.

 

 

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It Is the Same Vastness Everywhere We Go

The land is a ghost. It is not the special one. There is land 500 light years away. There are long views but no telephone polls. There is wind and rolling terrain. It is sometimes eerily flat there and often dark and light and dark and light.  There are horizons, beautiful mornings, and forlorn evenings.

 

 

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What Penny said to me Behind the Bushes

Our family will move away from this dwelling temporarily. All of our bodies will be in a vessel that will be hovering in the vicinity of 55 miles per hour most of the time because the pilot does not like to speed. The direction will change a lot. Our craft will sometimes travel in all directions and you may think that we are trying to throw you off or that we don’t know where we are going. Don’t be alarmed though, there is a place out there that I’m told we are headed. It is called Winona. It is pretty there I hear. There are rolling hills of green set against the rotating colors of the sky. There are other humans there who share our blood. It is approximately 1900 miles away. Picture our car as a blip on a sonar radar, soaring so far away that you will think it will never stop moving, but then you’ll see it stop for a period of time, and slowly come back to you.

 

 

Let Them Look Through You

Let Them Look Through You

We went for coffee with my mother-in-law. It was a walk up place on the boardwalk. The coffee was served in fancy tea cups and my wife said she wished we had cups like that. My mother-in-law looked at me and said with a judgmental voice, “Why haven’t you bought her cups like that?” I told her I’d never really thought about it before.

As Long as You Are with Me Will You Remind Me of This Moment When I Am Lost?

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As Long as You Are with Me Will You Remind Me of This Moment When I Am Lost?

This is the part where we do what we can to make it all work because we can hear life’s clock ticking . . .  as a reminder of this, we should all own clucking clocks with funny birds inside of them that come out every hour and do hilarious things like chirp, waddle, and splay.

I Hope You Laugh Forever (Abridged Version)

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I Hope You Laugh Forever (Abridged Version)

The two sisters sat in the kitchen and laughed. No one else was home.

5 They've All Come Home From the Races Now

They’ve all come home from the races now.

 

 

7 I am Smarter than him

I am smarter than him.

 

 

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How fast was your car going?

 

 

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Her eyes keep people alive; they supply blood to the heart.

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The grass was definitely greener on that day.

We Were Just Standing There out in the Open

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We Were Just Standing There out in the Open

I saw a black orb in the sky. It looked like a planet or a space ship or something not of this world. I told my friend’s dad about it and he said he didn’t see it. I pointed at it and said “it’s right there!” which it obviously was. He said there was nothing there. I’ve never forgotten seeing that black orb and now I understand why he didn’t admit to seeing it which I’ll never understand.

 

Advanced Coral Gables Supermarket Design

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Advanced Coral Gables Supermarket Design

I wish she would have waited until we got home from Florida to tell me what was bugging her. She pouted the entire plane ride down there. At first I thought she was unhappy with the amount of orange juice they gave her on the plane. “Why can’t they just give me the whole can?” Then I thought she was annoyed with the size of the towel at the hotel. “It’s too small! It barely covers my body.” Then I thought she was mad because they didn’t give her enough melted butter for her lobster. “I’m going to soak it all up with the first dip!” She broke up with me in the frozen goods aisle of a Supermarket in Coral Gables. I told her I’d see her back at the hotel. I remember looking at the the lines on the floor. There was a green one that led to the produce. There was a red one that led to the meat department. There was a blue one that led straight out the door

 

 

Pictures Invented the Want of Time Travel

We didn’t see any ghosts that day because everything we looked at was real. The woods sat in silence listening to the joy emanating from the people gathered there. The day ended and we had to go home but if I was standing there now I would still see the people I was with. I often have wondered if that’s how ghosts are made, moments like that, because every once in a while there is a day that never leaves you. Then life becomes like that.

Carnival Sinatra

 

268078592_8e973cba30When I was a kid there was a man operating a ride at a carnival who looked like Frank Sinatra. I walked up next to him as he yanked down a lever and I was convinced he was Sinatra. The ride kicked into gear and Sinatra reached into his apron and gave me a free ticket. He put his hand on my head, messed up my hair and winked at me. The sky grew dark and it started to downpour. The ride groaned and howled in the wind. It sounded like anyone could die at any moment. A nearby carny worker slipped on a thick black cord and fell to the ground. Sinatra pointed at him and laughed out loud to the point of exaggeration. That had to be Sinatra.

Those little ships, constructed in the bottle, how small they seem, how free they roam the sea. She is beauty in a bottle kept in my mind. She is free in the sea, taking on waves by waving back.

When I Time Travel I’m Going Straight to the Seventies

At family reunions in Omaha, Uncle Jim’s house smelled like beer, cologne, whiskey, stewed tomatoes, coffee, mowed grass, cabbage rolls, cigarette smoke, kibbeh, hot concrete, bacon, perfume, and cola. I loved that smell.

1331 Minutes After They Never Met

 

1331 Minutes After They Never Met (2000)
The fall and rise and fall of fired Russian Literature professor Handlebar Jones who falls prey to florescent lights, overindulgence, and an impossible love.

Based on a short story written by Christopher Jug George.

When We Were Aliens

We traveled to another planet on a rocket ship. It was strange to finally hurdle through space after staring at  it our entire lives. The beings there led us into a structure. There was carpet on the walls, magazines were shaped in circles, pictures were under a clear substance on the floor, the ceiling was transparent, and they were kind to us.

Yeti Colliding with Angels/Red and Blue Rooftops (Novella Excerpt, 1998)

My ability to think, evaluate, grow were all degenerating: arboreal, amphibious, human, ghost. I see now, as I begin to recall what exactly happened, that life is so simple, so resolute in the functions that we have, where we place our arms and so on.

I can see the sunset through the front picture window in the reflection of the back window. The sky is purple, beauty looming above me, in reflections, in air, in sight. I’m holding back information because the moment I reveal anything I will be thought of as insane.  Even more frightening to me is the fact that if I start telling you what happened I will have to relive the experience.  There is a knife in these memories, they blindfold me and push me down stairs.

The red and blue rooftops are in black and white. I stand inside a picture from my past reacting to the flash.  The purple sky is gone; there is no beauty to distract me as my future runs viciously through a foot of mud.  I am an elephant crashing down into sleep.  In the darkness I can see the lights of airplanes coming and going, moving across the sky like crabs move across the sand.  I can hear the highway racing all around me, the city lights buzzing quietly in the grid.

A man’s joy, a man’s pain or grasping at life fist over cocktail in hand . . .

I learned how to be funny from my Grandpa. He was a ham. I don’t think there is a better word to describe him because I remember his house in the woods often smelling like ham. He fought his way through many disappointments in life, one of those people whose smile got bigger the more you knocked him down. I get my sadness from him too. I realize now how much that man felt.

The way she looks at me sometimes . . .

Photo by Christopher Jug George *St. Croix River* July 28, 2011

That beautiful lady stays inside of summer. She is wrapped in a shawl of timelessness and is so convincing when she tells me there never really is a now.

An old friend came to visit me even though I didn’t let anyone in the door . . .

Photo by Christopher Jug George *St. Croix River* October 26, 2011

There’s pain in there somewhere, I realize, pain I thought I’d conquered. It poured out of me this past weekend and I started to wonder if  it was real. Had I been guessing when I told myself I was ok? On Christmas Day I was watching 8mm home movies  of people, of family, of strangers, of strange family, of Christmas, some of them I used to know, some I never met, one who disappeared from the world on that very day. They were so happy or pretending to be happy or sad, I couldn’t tell. I forgot what year it was on the street in front of my house and had no concept of time inside my house.  I was lost and overwhelmed and had to press stop. I went outside to feel the present. I found myself on a path cutting through the park that ended in the middle of the road where I was dodging cars and further still, along train tracks then sitting beneath the Summit Avenue bridge watching my dog bark at birds as the world darkened and while sitting there I went further into the woods, where I saw something I thought I’d lost or forgot or made up.  I saw a flash in the distance and even though I couldn’t see it clearly it was enough of a glimpse for me to know I’m not the great conqueror I thought I was . . .

Or maybe I’m still that boy from 1999 who wrote the same thing, in a 12 years ago way, in a novella:

I had to run but all of these people stepped in my path with indiscriminate looks on their faces, faces with no real connection to my current situation but rather just happening to move that foot, inch, or five feet in my direct line so that I was running through them and they were only concerned about tea, or how to get to the Nevesky bridge or what was said about them under someone’s breath, and every large person in the district gathered in one spot and pushed their pianos to that spot with them, and I scaled them swiftly as if I had the ability of the tiger that I saw within my dead Uncle, and next a thicket of thorny bushes that attached to my jacket only to get to a brick wall that I somehow managed to pass through, orange and black stripes flashing through my skin only to encounter every one in the Nevesky Prospect eating dinner in a straight line that adjusted to my path so that I stepped in people’s soup and on their meat and they acted as though they would be disappointed if I didn’t when finally I reached this point of isolation, these woods surrounded by birds . . .

The First Time I Realized Yellow Could be Described as Gold

I’ve been battling forever: with myself, with others, with memories, with life, with death. Fighting in a quiet way, mostly with my eyes and my thoughts. I’ve run from you, I’ve hurt you, I’ve tried to dismiss you, but, ultimately, I just ignored my wrongs, my rights, my gifts, my pain, my struggles with reality and then I think of a day like this one, when I was happy and oblivious. When I realized, for the first time, the world sometimes looked like my dreams and my heart pounded because of how golden yellow could be, how beautiful dying things were, how the landscape rose and fell, and gracefully gave into forever.

Gold River Diana or Life is that Strange Looking Thing Standing in the Middle

Photo by Christopher Jug George *St. Croix River-Gold River Diana* 4/28/10

You are a river, Diana, you are high. You are rushing and taking lives.  I’m not even sure when you took mine.  I’ve been negotiating a merger between the surreal and real  for a long time.  The deal is about to be struck.  I was not here before, I will be gone again.

My brother Jimmy is named after my Uncle Jim. When I was a kid I thought I had a bunch of uncles and aunts. I eventually found out they were all greats so I didn’t know any of them very long. I have known my brother forever.  He made it a point to save my life.

Photo by Christopher Jug George *Brugge, Belgium* October 1996

It was the last year of the century and we were walking the city streets during the good part of that summer. It was our favorite thing to do. We stood in front of an apartment building on Spruce Pl. and I told her that I thought Keith might live there. I pointed at a random window on the third floor and we both started yelling “KEITH!” “KEITH!” I remember her feet leaving the ground on one of the yells and I put my hand on her shoulder to keep her from floating away. I already knew she was going to float away.

Photo by Christopher Jug George *St. Croix River* May 12, 2011

The world tilted to the left that day and no one could walk straight. Horses were running everywhere and the hills lined up outside of houses as if they wanted to get inside. I was hiding behind a fallen tree, afraid to move as my world came undone. I fell asleep there and when I woke up it was the next day and everything was back to normal.

Photo by Christopher Jug George * St. Croix River * July 21, 2010

I wondered why that older lady from across the street didn’t eat any watermelon. Everyone else had red juice all over their fingers and chins. She sat there smoking and scowling. It was like she wasn’t even there. Eventually, her patio chair lifted off the ground and she floated into the sky like Mary Poppins with a frown.

Some people hide their sadness for as long as they can and then the wind blows loudly through the trees on a certain day, in a certain place and they break down in front of you.

The Neighbor’s Driveway

Photo by Christopher Jug George * St. Croix River * September 1, 2011

We drove to the country to see reindeer in a valley. I was very excited. It made me think of Christmas and all the stuff I would get. The reindeer were gathered around a feeder and I realized they were just big deer. Then I remembered the day I saw a dead deer strapped to the roof of a car in the driveway next door to our house. I will never forget the way those eyes didn’t look at me.

This is my life with him here. My wife is in the bedroom sleeping; my children are in their rooms sleeping. We are talking about the kids. He adores them, he sees himself in them. I see myself in him. I’m old enough to know him.  I’m old enough to realize the parts of me that are him. This is life if he never died.

I may be most like my Grandma. I can’t really say because I hardly knew her but I know she was a seeker. I’m flopping through life as if it doesn’t matter but it’s only because it matters too much.

I saw a child’s bike lying alone in a field next to some woods. It made me think of a neighborhood girl I liked as a kid.  I was with her and she said something about hating her home. I told her she could come live with me. She said that she didn’t want to be in any homes. She left her bike and walked into the woods. Before she did, she kissed me on the cheek. I remember thinking that at least it was summertime and she’d be warm in there.

I remember the way my Grandfather used to look at me sometimes. Penetrating my mind with a laser beam of unspoken thoughts, ‘This will all sink in someday,’ is what I think he was trying to say.

Like boxers the people remain in their corners, sometimes peeking out windows at each other. There is tension when two people arrive at the same time in opposing driveways, how they have to figure out if they are going to acknowledge one another. The world has changed and getting inside quickly has become the fad, as if the air is poisonous, the trees are scary and front porches shy from contact.  They run even when the world is warm and beautiful and green. They no longer need one another.

That There Frankie is a Good Friend of Mine (short story excerpt)

Photo by Christopher Jug George * St. Croix River * September 1, 2011

Some people might call Frankie and me fuck-ups but it isn’t like that at all. There is freedom within life if you can find it, a freedom without the perks, that’s what Frankie calls it. He told me about it one night when we were sitting around the yard with Lisa and Betty. Frankie said “If you forget about everything and everyone, well there you are, alone in your own world and hey, if you have friends along with you for the ride, well that’s even better.” It’s friends, you see, that’s what Frankie taught me, real friends make all the difference in the world when you decide to live in your own world.

The Future of Wallpaper