The Adirondack Review
The Genes That Make Us Human

They discovered the genes that make us human:
the essence of humanity, the quintessence of us,
the truth in the marrow that grows bones.
The David, nonchalant, prepares the shot.

The hearing we do makes us human, straining
human ears, hearing what is in earshot,
the true spirit in wind and traffic, radio chatter,
and all the voices abandoned on apartment

answering machines.  Those genes are few
that make us human, a small percentage,
enough to divorce us from the dumb chimps.
The human genes sprung into the human

race, gathered in the human genome
five million years ago and gave us speech,
human talk across coffee tables, through
wires and wireless air.  Talk of what could

have been -- happiness during happy hours,
martini-glass laughter -- is spoken in the
genes that make us human.  Feelings can
be human, like the unlettered weather.

I will walk in the garden, see the growth
of the native flowers, the painted blue sky,
and end on a good note, because we have lost
the chimps, come this far to become human.





Christopher Nikoloff has published poetry in The Advocate, Poetalk, Cannedphlegm, Forpoetry.com, California Quarterly, and was a finalist in a 1994 Bay Area Guardian poetry contest.  He works as a private school administrator in San Jose, California, and his hobbies are languages, guitar, and reading The Economist.