Saturday, 31 May 2008

I am a story telling myself

‘Believe it or not, the Harry Potter stories aren't the only highly anticipated series being published these days. On page 865 of this issue, you can find the third instalment in another such series - the book of human genes. This book is being produced by thousands of people around the globe.’ Nature, 2001

I am a story telling myself

I am a story telling myself.
Chapters of hand and eye,

to last syllables of hair -
reading, speaking aloud,

expressing chemicals
as iris flower, laughter

lines printing my ancient,
re-born face; figured thus

from the very start of things -
the elaborate wording of stars

blown from the mouth of God;
His ideas lurking in blackness.


We are books,
still opening -

being read -
and writing.

Books for others
to open, crease

and read -

Friday, 30 May 2008

Life is a script forever reading

‘It is these chromosomes… that contain in some kind of code-script the entire pattern of the individual’s future development and of its functioning in the mature state.’ Erwin Schrodinger, Physicist, 1943

‘The key image… is that of a species’ genes as a detailed description of the collection of environments in which its ancestors lived…The genes of a species can be thought of as a description of ancestral worlds, a ‘Genetic Book of the Dead.’ Richard Dawkins, Unweaving the Rainbow, Penguin, 1998

‘The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.’ Ecclesiastes, The Bible

‘The genetic code was cracked in the 1960s, when Marshall Nirenberg, Har Khorana, and Severo Ochoa figured out that three letters of DNA encodes a particular amino acid. A three-letter word made of four possible letters could have more than enough permutations to encode the 20 amino acids.’ BBC Science

‘But Darwin had invented a new concept, and ‘everyone’ did not know how to read it, as metaphor or as force.’ Gillian Beer, Introduction to the Origin of Species, 1859, Oxford University Press, 1988

‘The genome that we decipher in this generation is but a snapshot of an ever-changing document. There is no definitive edition.’ Matt Ridley, Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters, Fourth Estate, 2000

Life is a script forever reading

Life is a script -
forever reading,

being read;
adapting -

revising, growing,
shifting, changing.

New lines and chapters
recited in each eye, hair,

complex interaction amid
Time’s enormous pages -

light sampled, as blood
identity, original energy,

life’s brilliant fuel
for any conversion -

sound of a heart,
sound of a wave,

written on Earth’s
stil evolving score.

One brush with a flower,
weary bumping bee fatly

transporting showered pollen
to the passing human sleeve -

altering the unseen masterwork;
sight of one unexpected bloom

might cause a man to declare his love
for a waiting woman - make children,

delete some murderous lines
in the dark chapter of a head.

Our script so linked and curlicued,
we are at dance with everything -

spoken and unspoken,
in the earthly theatre -

original arena -
restless with art;

every syllable mattering,
always work-in-progress.

Thursday, 29 May 2008

I am words in unformed dark

‘Although the inherited vocabulary is simple its message is very long. Each cell in the body contains about six feet of DNA…if all the DNA in all the cells in a single human being were stretched out, it would stretch to the moon and back eight thousand times. There is now a scheme, the Human Genome Project, to read the whole of these three thousand million letters and to publish what may be the most boring book ever written.’ Steve Jones, The Language of the Genes, HarperCollins, 1993

‘When the Human Genome Project was launched in 1990, decoding the ‘book of life’ was a controversial and far-off goal. But now, with the announcement on 26 June that 90 per cent of the human genome - the ‘working draft’ - is in the public databases, the main chapters of the book have been deciphered. Not a bedtime read maybe, but the first draft of the human genome sequence gives researchers access to the most invaluable medical reference book. For the next three years, the Human Genome Project will tackle an even more challenging task - filling in the missing paragraphs and rigorously checking the spelling and grammar to produce the final ‘gold standard’ sequence.’ Wellcome Trust, UK

I am words in unformed dark

I am words in unformed dark,
my letter-flesh as yet unborn -

but my last fingernail half-moon
already brittle; bright white fossil

scratching behind clouds of time,
like a cat at the right closed door.

‘The Word became flesh…’ John 1, The Bible

The Word is the answer

The Word is the answer;
bridge, conductor, key -

between nothing
and life; invisible,

without molecule,
known dimension -

singular concept
now blossoming,

pre-rigged with being -
mysterious with matter.

Light even in darkness
glueing random atoms -

clustering the world
with chemical love.

We hear the page of the world opening

We hear the page of the world
opening at our time to print -

as seeds hear spring,
light in the darkness;

fumbling earth,
water touching.

Now is the time of growth -
our own organic expression;

being a flower among flowers -
the illumination of being alive.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

I am written in the hand of God

‘The human genome is a book - reading it carefully from beginning to end taking due account of anomlies like imprinting, a skilful technician could make a complete human body.’ Matt Ridley, Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters, Fourth Estate, 2000

‘We've now got to the point in human history where for the first time we are going to hold in our hands the set of instructions to make a human being. That is an incredible philosophical step forward, and will change, I think, the way we think of ourselves.’ Dr John Sulston, Head, UK Human Genome Project; Director, Wellcome Trust Sanger Centre, UK

I am written in the hand of God

I am written in the hand of God,
the one language of all Creation;

as everything that lives is written;
over and over – in sand, charcoal,

copperplate, type; sketches sharpening
from blurred script - watery, indistinct,

to the intricate and exquisitely precise;
particular, high definition digital print

looming from the masterwork
as recognisable kind, species -

the organic poem of you or me,
maybe once a leaf - fern spore.

The Literary Trinity

‘[DNA] had first been isolated from the pus-soaked bandages of wounded soldiers…by a Swiss doctor named Friedrich Miescher. Miescher himself guessed that DNA might convey the hereditary messages ‘just as the words and concepts of all languages can find expression in 24-30 letters of the alphabet.’ But DNA had few fans; it was known to be a comparatively monotonous substance: how could it convey a message in just four varieties.’ Matt Ridley, Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters, Fourth Estate, 2000

“Each of the 30,000-100,000 genes is like a verse of the bible.” UK Scientist

The Literary Trinity

The Literary Trinity -
three letters forever

spelling life’s simple words;
from the magical incantation

of eyes - called from the workings
of light, yet coded under darkness;

psalm of the hand sung
as bone-star, blood-leaf.

Rhyming egg-shelled wing with sky,
dreaming man, feather mechanism -

all Earth’s products and volumes;
holy script writing sea into blood,

light into green, blue into water,
water into fish - tree, bird, man;

infinite literature of chemistry -
improbable art of the Universe.


I am written in the same three-letter
words as everything else alive –

my family inhabits Earth;
in their skin, fur - green.


The Word speaks
in the darkness -

poems come -
alchemising life

from love, letters -
intelligent chemicals.

Monday, 26 May 2008

Rehearsing the Rose

‘In fact, our code is a sort of evolutionary history book.’ Transcript, Newsnight, BBC TV

Rehearsing the Rose

All the mornings of the world
have dawned to write this rose,

ember of summer burning yet -
crying silver in her bed of earth.

In this polished morning
of motherness and garden,

love and light still evolving -
in the thousand million years

of my cultured heart:
the beating red rose.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

The Four Letters of LOVE

‘IMMORTAL LOVE!….Press drop to drop, to atom atom mind,/ Link sex to sex, or rivet mind to mind;/ Attend my song – With rosy lips rehearse,/ And with your polish’d arrows write my verse! -/ So shall my lines soft-rolling eyes engage/ And snow-white fingers turn the Volant page;/ The smiles of Beauty all my toils repay,/ And youths and virgins chant the living lay.’ Erasmus Darwin, 1731-1802, The Temple of Nature

The Four Letters of LOVE

Only ‘L,O,V,E’ was the clue
to such boundless simplicity -

just four humble letters
to carry our highest art;

to mean the best of us - cultured
prize flower of the human heart;

budding and seeded
even in terrible dark -

for darkness fades into light
where there is love present -

for love is light -
as the letters of us

are life: also
death’s seed.