[A Poem inspired by Covid, CRISPR, and Uber drivers]
master of none, born
between Gen-X and Y2K;
skipping fickly from one
strand to another, promiscuous
and Promethean in dour
Excellent in its underdog job.
Dandy, punk, yob, digging up and dishing out
dirt. Tagging off and turfing out shit.
Done up to the harlequin nines,
sweeping, cleaning, clearing up
sorting, drawing, dragging out,
tearing, putting, breaking down,
getting through and by and around;
cajoling trans to cis and back;
happy hanging out around nucleus
and microvilli and organelles;
shepherding oocytes and apoptosis,
rocking babes in cribs, shrouding the dead,
ubiquitin always gets the gig.
Telephone operator, wielder of
Solomonic sword, signalman,
scribe, air-raid warden, fire-fighter,
nurturer of fruit in the womb;
maker, keeper, winder-up, repairer,
of watches and clocks. Cogsmith,
grandfather, cuckoo, grim reaper,
bearer of babes and arms. Harbinger
of doom. Swiss Army knife
of complexes and molecules.
Whip-cracker, share-cropper, master,
dealer, trader, bondsman, serf.
In the Chronicles of ubiquitin,
homo sapiens and brewer’s yeast
are kissing cousins—human souls
a bad off-batch
–a foul experiment gone wrong.
More dead wood in the family tree.
In the time of ubiquitin, the élan vital
has made but baby-steps
through emptiness. In the light-years
ubiquitin spans, intelligence
is but a handful of bytes, a few bits
and bods in a cytological bag, urging us out back
towards the stars.
Ubiquitin is the alien