Saturday, 7 June 2008

Listen again

‘It turns out we can shoot the shit all night, stein after Stein, anecdote on anecdote, until the first light swarms over the water like thistledown on fire. Then the fog disappears which is, of course, the day clearing its throat for speech.’ Albert Goldbarth

Listen again

Listen; crippled trees are speaking
to a dishevelled Moon and wind -

green voices in groaning night -
tincture of animal, haunted man,

weird language of werewolves,
nymph-whispering - mermaid,

siren singing - some old dark tongue
we can almost comprehend, process.

We have recognised before, tree language;
leaf, limbs, faces - torsos, wrists, fingers -

known spirit-housing, at dark alone
in foot-muffled wood, among moss,

probable goblins, loss of possible creatures
of light - appealing brotherhood, praying

to good trees, as living repositories of kindness,
patience, for safe passage. Inarticulate murmurs,

understood when we did not know their word;
likewise bird, primate - but deaf to the mouse,

humble worm turning under leaves -
word of them speaking our language,

written in the ancient letters -
holy silence of skin, leaf, fur.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Naturally occurring antisense transcripts

‘An increasing number of eukaryotic genes are being found to have naturally occurring antisense transcripts. Here we study the extent of antisense transcription in the human genome by analyzing the public databases of expressed sequences using a set of computational tools designed to identify sense-antisense transcriptional units on opposite DNA strands of the same genomic locus. The resulting data set of 2,667 sense-antisense pairs was evaluated by microarrays containing strand-specific oligonucleotide probes derived from the region of overlap. Verification of specific cases by northern blot analysis with strand-specific riboprobes proved transcription from both DNA strands. We conclude that 60% of this data set, or 1,600 predicted sense-antisense transcriptional units, are transcribed from both DNA strands. This indicates that the occurrence of antisense transcription, usually regarded as infrequent, is a very common phenomenon in the human genome. Therefore, antisense modulation of gene expression in human cells may be a common regulatory mechanism.’ Nature, 2003

Naturally occurring antisense transcripts

I can think of several human beings
displaying the effects of anti-sense

modulation in their expressions;
what’s next - the mechanisms

for non-sense - the genes for talking crap?
Might I suggest a few experimental models

among the general population to detect,
and study the Parlo-crapus gene family.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Science and religion are married in the Genome (1)

‘That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched – this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it…’ John 1, The Bible

‘In the beginning was the Word. The Word proselytised the sea with its message, copying itself unceasingly and forever – the Word discovered how to rearrange chemicals so as to capture little eddies in the stream of entropy and make them live – the Word transformed the land surface of the planet from a dusty hell to a verdant paradise. The Word eventually blossomed and became sufficiently ingenious to build a porridgy contraption called a human brain that could discover and become aware of the Word itself.’ Matt Ridley, Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters, 2000

‘But thou, my babe! shalt wander like a breeze/ By lakes and sandy shores, beneath the crags/ Of ancient mountain, and beneath the clouds,/ which image in their bulk both lakes and shores/ And mountain crags: so shalt thou see and hear/ The lovely shapes and sounds intelligible/ Of that evernal language, which thy God/ Utters, who from eternity doth teach/ Himself in all, and all things in himself./ Great universal teacher! he shall mould/ Thy spirit, and by giving make it ask.’ Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Frost at Midnight, 1798

‘In our culture at present, people find it somewhat surprising that an idea can be large enough to have both a scientific and a religious aspect. This is because, during the last century, our ideas of religion, of science, and indeed of life have all become narrowed in a way that makes it difficult to get these topics into the same perspective. (Here our window has become a good deal narrower that it was when Galileo and Newton and Faraday used it. They never doubted these things belonged together).’ Mary Midgley, Science and Poetry, 2003

‘Science can only be created by those who are thoroughly imbued with the aspiration towards truth and understanding. The sources of this feeling, however, spring from the sphere of religion.’ Einstein, Science and Religion, Nature, 1940

‘In the beginning was the word.’ John 1, The Bible

Science and religion are married in the Genome (1)

The Bible: ‘In the beginning was the Word’.
21st Century Science: ‘In the beginning was the word’.

Science and religion are married in the Genome.
Like lovers estranged, enemies, they have hated;

boxers in corners, belligerent generals,
scrapping footsoldiers, irreconcilable -

God hunted from existence by easier truths,
squeezed from vision - unsettlingly inexact,

inhabiting feeling and imagination -
not something you can put on a slide;

prove - though love is the greatest power -
human citadel, force, undying heart flower,

yet cannot be discerned, detected, counted,
by microscope or scan - chemical or sight.

And who had made them enemies but men,
whose minds compartmentalise, reduce -

screens and firewalls of the panicked mind;
even as the heart shouts loudly in the chest,

the soul exerts its own existence, simply -
as presence; burning with their own truths,

contribution to the bigger understanding.
Even this soul man feels inside his skin -

witnessed more clearly in any eye than lens
or cell, stolen, because it has no woven fibre;

white, silken - carbon-dated to the age of God -
when maybe tools to find such energy and light,

bright root of love and consciousness, its power,
may not yet be invented, nor even yet imagined.

As the shifting Genome sparkled still, millennia
in darkness, first root of flesh, and no-one saw -

chemicals and energy; biology, light, life,
have always been the living heart of God,

Who said everything so simply;
He is Word and Life - is Love.

And all our picky labels, selective views and fights,
have never changed a molecule, a string of DNA –

a feather is neither thing of beauty, nor object of cells,
ornament or aerodynamic calculation, but all at once -

that is its glory, whole identity; reduction is not enough
to represent - picture vividly - reality’s brilliant bones -

the whole of Botany has never yet understood a flower
more perfectly than an eye, more completely than a bee.

But love of beauty grows with wonder at such structure;
processes of photosynthesis - chemicals, sugar and light,

that make the flower be, unravelling her millennia of mysteries.
Embryology is art, to be studied, like Michelangelo, enraptured.

We made this battle by ourselves - opposition, dichotomy, war -
excised the heart of science, put a stone where once passion beat;

curtailed God’s nature, meaning of His name and words -
chose ourselves what was, or was not Him, or His domain;

because we did not understand, becoming cleverer -
that big thinking, scope, perspective, grander vision,

still exist when fractured chemistry and medicine,
fabulous astronomy and physics, solve, decipher,

hook some shining elements of knowledge,
so beautifully in symbols, theories, rules -

we are looking at a sliver cut, but a sample from one
vast picture not amenable to such selective thought -

creating partial blindness by a narrow focus - but
feeling confident to name, imprison God in words;

man-made bonds, strictures, boundaries of meaning -
thus allowing men to call the tune, re-make the dance,

that once, we realise, was free; music heard
by Earth and all her jostling creatures, even

to the last green leaf - skin molecule -
converting light, orchestrating atoms;

even if we did not recognise the notes within the tune -
understand from where such strange sound might come.

Ignorance is not bliss:
knowledge is heaven -

to read the illuminated script of a butterfly wing -
burning stripes and coals of tiger and leopard-fur;

unholy, blunt mushroom finger nudging darkness,
natural brass of the golden eagle feather - yellow

light at the sunflower’s black heart,
snow in the slow fur of Polar Bears -

is to see beauty’s shining skeleton, her plastic face -
understanding the means of stunning Earth chemistry.

The Human Genome still shines, her magic retained,
now shivering - exposed in the chill extracting palm

of science; wonder stronger, more intensified,
seeing these words revealed that are the poem

of us, of all that live upon the Earth, or ever have;
or will, in the branching future of organic family -

Time’s hair’s-breadth splitting between water
and earth - worm, fish, mammal, flower, man.

Truth is essential to God and Science;
God and what science studies are one.

Truth is not singular vision;
will not be encompassed -

simplified, stripped of its bigger,
closer, messier, blurred meaning -

and of all ironies, science is so far the greatest proof,
if proof be ever possible – desirable - that God exists.

Monday, 2 June 2008

We are the Word

‘Heredity is a modifiable stored programme; metabolism a universal machine. The recipe that links them is a code, an abstract message that can be embodied in a chemical, physical or even immaterial form. Its secret is that it can cause itself to be replicated. Anything that can use the resources of the world to get copies of itself made is alive; the most likely form for such a things to take is a digital message – a number, a script or a word.’ Matt Ridley, Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters, Fourth Estate, 2000

We are the Word -

We are the Word -
poems called forth

from the mouth and hand
of black-masked nothing;

as stars shining somewhere -
existing invisibly behind light.

We are poems spoken

We are composed poems spoken
by the opening mouth of life -

the Alpha of star roots as mysterious
as imagined silence of stellar Omega.

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Like illuminated manuscripts

Like illuminated manuscripts

Words fill us,
create, are us -

like illuminated manuscripts,
written brilliantly in time -

our detail and colour,
elaborately painted -

ornate with organic life;
gilded with some light

of different material,
decoration of spirals;

so few pages ever open -
displayed under eye-glass.

God is a writer -
life the printer.