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J'ABBERWOCKY genes MICHAEL NEWMAN* A virus like a finger Is a bone widi protein coat, A dissonant dead ringer, A cellular sour note, That sometimes will malinger In eye, ear, nose, and throat, Depositing its stinger To get genetic goat. A class called retrovirus Is culpable in tumors; Like gossips they hot-wire us Wim metastatic rumors; Some rapidly retire us, While others are late bloomers That patiendy enmire us In neoplastic humors. A viroid, on the other hand, Must use alternate means; It has no coat, you understand, Comes nude to all its scenes: A couple of hundred nucleotides That don't amount to beans— And yet they ravage plant insides With Jabberwocky Genes Whose nonsense somehow multiplies In cytoplasmic slime, In ways this poem signifies With replicating rhyme: Beware die bushy-stump disease! Sequester your tomatoes!»Address: 302 West 12th Street, New York, New York 10014. Permission to reprint may be obtained only from the author. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 26, 1 ¦ Autumn 1982 | 127 The idiot has got the keys That spindle small potatoes: The tumblers are a mystery, But viroids have their ways, Perhaps learned at dawn of history, When life began its days: Vested in this invention, An evolutional honeybee, Does it, sarcling, mock convention With a pirated skeleton key? How does it do its damage? With a host-cell replicase Manganeasily unspecific Like DNA polymerase? Or does this RNA cousin Of the father of the Flu Cannibalize host RNA In molecular make-do? Does it steal a methyl-G credit card At ribosomal cash-machines? Does it catch the system off its guard And filter through its screens? A Joker, when a Wild Card, Can pass for Kings and Queens: Apparendy it isn't hard With Jabberwocky Genes. (further provenance: the Joker as Jabberwocky Jingle) Now take the foolishjingle That now and dien awakes Your myelin a-tingle With the sentiment it fakes; Like a singing swinging single, Entered in beefcake sweepstakes, Is the prion, meant to mingle With molecular mistakes. But those jingles can be jilted By a dose of Beethoven, Which obviates what's stilted In the sheathes of myelin: If the jingle-weed is wilted 128 I Michael Newman · Jabberwocky Genes By its more developed kin, Can a psychic soil be quilted To resist its material twin? Half a step from the Perfect Fifth interval Is the Devil's Dissonance, A sound like a shriek in a hospital, A deviant dervish askance— Do you think if Old Nick grew that half-inch Lucifer would accrue back to God, The scorpion turn to a chaffinch, And Finn rise again from his sod? Can music be immunological Against the jingle disease? Or is the hold just psychological, Just tones locked in a traumatic freeze? Are sequences locked in memory As tangible as Sin? Is an insult to harmony How material growtfis begin? (the forensic padiology of die gene) Were oncogenes put diere to stop us When our number became Legion, And a hypertonic cacophony Dominated die boundary region, With the virus a kind of a monitor Of stress on die design, A phosphokinetic Paul Revere That knocks on Tyrosine Till membrane proteins, once serene Magistrates of osmotic procession, Now muddle die ionic scene, Detuning die tonic succession? Yes, oncogenes are a self-destruct That's built in the molecular level, Set to go off at a critically massive Tritone dissonance of the Devil. Pythagoras set us a proportionate Norm By intervals of material strings, He knew of the Golden Mean of form And the spiral die triangle sings; Perhaps in this loop of feedback Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 26, 1 ¦ Autumn 1982 | 129 Is a clue to what Golden Rules mean: What we do unto die atmosphere, Environment does to the gene: It's known among statisticians That statistical aberrations Are curbed by endogenous mechanisms For die good of more grand orchestrations, The way immunological SWAT teams Counter toxic concentrations, The way dead wood is weeded from forests: Via terminal-mite infestations. They've finally found an answer To one question frequendy posed: How do viruses cause cancer? When will die case be closed? When will die Prosecution Of accused...


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