Actinium, “Periodic Table” poem by Chicago poet Janet Kuypers


Actinium

Janet Kuypers

from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series (#089, Ac)

So at my old job
we had to work with
this piece of machinery
that in order for it to work,
needed to be powered
by eight D cell batteries.

Yeah, we could have
plugged it in,
but there never was an outlet
in the places where
we actually used
this machinery.

And these eight
D cell batteries
we had to use
were lasting only
like
two to four hours,
so we had to
go through anywhere
from four to eight
sets of batteries a day.

I mean, that’s insane,
having to go through
all that battery power,
so I called the manufacturer
to see if any battery packs
had a longer life,
I even asked
if rechargeable battery packs
existed for it.
They said there were no
rechargeable battery packs,
but a sales engineer there
said they had a special
long life battery pack
that lasts several years.
Sounds like a good plan,
so I asked for pricing,
and found out it was
thousands of dollars.

Yeah, this battery pack
could run from
fourteen thousand dollars
to upwards of
forty thousand dollars…

But I was prepared to go
to our supervisor with
these figures, because
yeah, that’s a lot of money,
but if we keep using this machine
we’ll spend that on batteries
in less time.

So I called that sales engineer
again for more information,
and that’s when he told me
sorry, we couldn’t buy it.
Now, I know it’s expensive,
but I had to know what’s up,
and he said they could only sell it
to NASA,
the DOD,
and select US government agencies.

So yeah, I had to ask why,
and found out it was a special
radioactive thermoelectric battery
for use in outer space.

it seems that the
radioactive Actinium
was the fuel
for the work
that I need to do.

I guess it figures,
that the only thing
that could help out my work
is something insanely rare,
and insanely expensive,
and it’s best suited
for spacecraft —
not down here,
where I’ve got work to do….


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