Journalism in Verse – EST. 2016


Spelling Error [AUDIO]

in Audio/Science & Tech by


“…when I was about twelve…[I thought the double helix] was a detective novel.”
             Jennifer Doudna*

This spiral chain, climbing, creating—

this tube ladder of life—two twisting strands, and all it takes is the tiniest

single                                      mistake                                      among                                      six


              letters, and here comes

              Acalvaria,                                           Breast Cancer,
                            Cystic Fibrosis,                                           Down Syndrome,
                                                 Fragile X,                                           Gaucher Disease,
                                                             Huntington’s…                              and we’re only up to H.

It’s a spelling error.

The heroic petri dishes march with metaphorical red marking pens raised, ready.

                            I Cell Disease,                                           Jackson-Weiss Syndrome,
              Klinefelter Syndrome,               Leukemia.

This spelling error can be fixed.

              Myotonic Dystrophy,          Neurofibromatosis,
                            Osteogenesis Imperfecta,          Parkinsons… .
                                                 No more Q-Fever,          Retinitis Pigmentosa,
                                                             Sickle Cell Disease,          Turner Syndrome.

                                                                           No more

                                                                Uterine Sarcoma,          Velocardiofacial Syndrome,
                                          Wilson Disease,                        Xanthism,

                           Y-Chromosome infertility,          Zunich Neuroectodermal Syndrome… .

We will cut the DNA of an HIV virus from human cells, or make blue-eyed babies.

Just editing evolution here.


*Geneticist Jennifer Doudna co-invented a groundbreaking new technology for editing genes, called CRISPR-Cas9 (which stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats). The tool allows scientists to make precise edits to DNA strands, which could lead to treatments for genetic diseases … but could also be used to create so-called “designer babies.”


How Crispr Let’s us Edit our DNA [TED talk by Jennifer Doudna]
We Just Used Genetic Engineering to Create Completely Yellow, Three-Eyed, Wingless Mosquitoes [Futurism]
Racing for academic glory and patents: Lessons from CRISPR [Science Mag]

Lisa St. John is a teacher and published poet. Her chapbook, Ponderings, is available at Finishing Line Press. She lives in the Catskill Mountains of New York where she writes her blog.

Image by Miki Yoshihito entitled “DNA”.

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