Fluid Things

Jason Lipeles

(Editor’s note: This poem is best viewed on a desktop computer or in landscape orientation on a mobile device.)
For Kenny

in the beginning
a computer turns on with buh-ling
and there’s love in that blank screen

they create f-f-f-r-r-i-i-c-c-t-t-i-i-o-o-n-n-n

but it’s mainly blank and so
white data
becomes more white data
and an emptiness
that pulls
the stomach, puffs it white
until there’s only space
for stars and blank sky

and eyes

are faded scars

in the vast white puff

of universe

the beat started low and dull
and built wide       and           tall                for hours
as the fire consumed the sky
the hornets hummed sam smith’s “latch”
and the embers burned
like pulled sugar

{the baby smooth surface of the earth gleamed red-orange and God swaddled us all}

in the beginning
seals stood up on their fins
and rattlesnakes beat their tails on wet dirt like cloth drums
and every feather on the mockingbird shone like a mirrored window



taking up every square inch of the surface of my mind

God hovered in a rainbow spandex body suit
with her cape spread out full and her arms raised

of glittering

when she focused on the fistful of clay in her hand
her eyes projected the vision of
you and me


we wore silky soccer shorts in red and white
so that God could easily tell us apart.
the world she created was imperfect
so the bowl of Cheerios got soggy
even after the first few minutes
and we still argued about slurping the milk
and God had to come in every once in awhile
to fix a crack in the sidewalk or rewrite
a fable that she worried would give us
the wrong idea.

our asses were clean
because we never shat
and there was no need for lube

as we could use a drop of water
clear and smooth as God’s eyes
and she would help us find enjoyment
even in the most troubled corners
of our relationship.
on most days, we stayed still stroking
each other’s hair as it was baby soft
even though we were at least twenty
and at a ripe enough age to start making
children of our own.

we read books
but only by telling each other stories
and there was no one to impress

so all of our work
was hopelessly quixotic
and beautifully intimate.
God listened and gave us notes.
God was working on a book and we asked
to read it but she was very coy
about the whole thing
and we were only privy to the first few lines.
on Saturdays, we’d turn up the lasers and disco lights
and God would put on her favorite music,

Aretha Franklin or Yo La Tengo,
and she would be as large as ever
in my mind all dripping

with rainbow silks
secured in padded spandex
and belt melodies as loud as the heavens
into a bedazzled mic
and we would watch
unable to speak
until she gestured for us to get up
and join her
and so we would wriggle

and sway
and turn in circles
our arms out
our faces touching the sky.
if we still had energy, we’d run
to the ocean and the water would shine
with crayfish and luminescent seals and
we would all sing together in harmony.
I was just learning the lute and so played it as loud
as I could and the old sharks would clatter their teeth
and the dinosaurs would hee haw with their claws.
we would lay on each other
and bounce back

and forth to get
that cool clean sensation
that everyone’s after.
the apples tasted sweet here
and love was encouraged but
the snakes told us we could find more love
across the way.
God wanted us to “spread our wings”
even though I insisted we had no wings.
we had little time to pack. the loons always
crowed on command
like grandfather clocks
and so we took them with us.

we grabbed a handful of dark red berries
and our favorite old boombox
and broke the amniotic seal that kept us soft.


Upon pushing through the screen, the first thing we noticed was our dry skin, dry eyelids, dry inner elbows. We learned to call this redness “eczema” and itched ourselves silly. God saw our plight and fitted us with moisturizing robes. We were given full-time jobs raking the desert and cutting down trees. We fought less but missed our sing-alongs. The fires burned and the sunsets dulled.

One night, after the fire went out, we accidentally made a child. After nine months, it slithered out my anus and we cleaned him and named him Ben. Ben was a clever child with slick black hair and a devious grin. We loved Ben and gave him all the Juicy Fruit he could chew. God would watch him when we went to work and so he had faith in love at a young age.

Ben’s first word was “blow” and he loved the way the wind mussed the trees. He would kick the air with his feet and tell us in his own early language to raise him up high. And so we’d hold him by the back and he’d whinny and open himself up to the heavens.

Within a few years, he was mature enough to come to work with us. We gave him the job of licking the sand off the trees before they fell. God was superstitious and liked her good things to be loved.

It wasn’t long before Ben not only licked the trees, but cut the trees and gave his juice lovingly to their bark. The peaches were always raw and sweet and so we ate them knowing the trees made them for us to enjoy.

Ben would suck on the peaches for hours and spit the pits as far as he could into the darkness. One night a woman found the pit and brought it back to him imagining it was an amulet. He thanked her with a lick or two and they made love under God’s watchful eye.

By that time I’d popped out eight children already and so we loved having another adult around. Sheila was our friend and confidante and we were relieved he found someone that matched his love for fluid things.

Around Christmas, the young children would get antsy so we made small nests and began to saw twigs off trees to make toys and ate the ripest tomatoes we could find. The children grew up fast and helped us collect weeds for mulch and we calculated their height in stacked pumpkins.

In time, they started playing music like we used to and we remembered our old luminescent nights. Our oldest told us we could still make music just as beautiful and our youngest would press his knees into our backs to get us up onto the dance floor.

We pretended we knew all the new fads but in fact you and me were as slow as the sad busted crows that followed us around on foot. We would move our wrinkled hands in the air and wait for one finger to meet the other. You gave me a sly grin and the skin around your eyes sagged but I could still make out the mischief of one hundred twenty years.

The next year Ben and Sheila left under cloak of darkness and then the rest of the children got old enough to wander out on their own and made their own families finding people from other villages to dance with.

We still got together a few times a year to dance among the trees but now the kids were wiser than us and showed us how to make the music louder and the lutes were traded in for yodeling machines that pounded us with penetrating bass.

By that time, we were dreadfully tired of dust and leaves and God found us an apartment on a hill. We lived out our last days eating ripe avocados and listening to the wind. God would reminisce about those first days and we loved her for it. The laser shows and light-filled fields felt as far away as a myth but when I closed my eyes I could still see her as tall and magnificent as ever.

On our last day, she pet our heads and told us to dream
about smooth candy and naked asses
and so we left the earth smiling.
JASON LIPELES is a Los-Angeles-based poet, performance artist, and human-being-with-feelings. He is an alumnus of the AJU/Asylum Arts’ Reciprocity Artist Retreat. He graduated with a Master of Fine Arts in Image + Text from Ithaca College in 2018. You can find him at jasonlipeles.com.