Roentgenium, “Periodic Table of Poetry” poem by Chicago poet Janet Kuypers

Roentgenium

Janet Kuypers

from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series (#111, Rg)
7/2/13

Being in just the right place
at just the right time
is what getting what you want
is all about.

#

Thirteen nuclear researchers
bombarded Bismuth two oh nine
with Nickel sixty four ions
to make the Nickel penetrate
the Bismuth nucleus,
so they’d come together
to make a bigger atom.

So the Nickel had to go fast enough
to penetrate the Bismuth nuclei
(not too fast, but not too slow),
and still, you’d lose a lot of atoms
to
space.

Enough experiments,
enough times,
created more atoms
of element
one one one.

They looked for so long,
and no one knows for sure
what Roentgenium looks like,
so the researchers started
predicting it’s properties
because it has such a short
half life.

#

And on the anniversary
of when this all came together
in just the right way,
at just the right time,
that’s when John Hinckley,
after stalking the rock star
and watching his habits,
that’s when he walked
from the sidewalk
and shot John Lennon.

Because as I said,
you have to be
in just the right place
at just the right time
to make everything
come together,
don’t you.

#

But if we got enough
of one one one,
we’d love this precious metal —
even if only for a short while.

Darmstadtium, poem from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series by Chicago poet Janet Kuypers

Darmstadtium

Janet Kuypers

from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series (#110, Ds)
started 10/14/13, finished 10/15/13

Element one one zero
in the periodic Table,
Darmstadtium,
originally didn’t have a name,
so when the scientists
gave a space-filler name
to element one one zero
they gave props
to the Greeks and Latins
by calling it
Ununnilium.

I’m sure it’s said
oon – un – nil – ee – um,
or maybe oon – un – neel – ee – um,
but knowing a thing or two
about the town of Darmstadt
during the Nazi regime,
I’m tempted to call it
oon – un – nile – ee um.

Oon – un-nihliate.
Get that heavy water
into the hands
of Nazi Germany,
and you’ll understand
the word play.

#

When Nazis took power in Germany,
Darmstadt was the first city
to even force Jewish shops to close.

German scientists knew
they could use “heavy water”
in an effort to make a nuclear bomb…
And when the allies bombed
the Nazis in nineteen forty-three
the air raid forced Nazis to move
all of their “heavy water”
to Germany for protection
(at places like Darmstadt,
where the super-heavy element
Darmstadtium was later discovered).

Then again, prominent members
of the German resistance
against the Nazis
were citizens of Darmstadt.

And Darmstadt is where the
big German accelerator is situated…
The GSI Heavy Ion Research Centre
is in Darmstadt, and elements
are discovered there
(like Darmstadtium). You see,
they had to make Darmstadtium
in this big machine
just to discover it, because
this synthetic element
isn’t even present
in the environment at all.
I mean, we’ve only been able
to make just a few atoms
of the super-heavy Darmstadtium…

But then again,
from what we could tell,
it’s insanely radioactive,
has an insanely short half life,
and no stable isotopes.
With all going against the nature
of Darmstadtium, it’s no wonder
that there isn’t even much concern
over guessing it’s potential physical
and chemical properties.

With such a short half life,
there’s no point in wondering
about the effect it might have
on the human body
or even on the environment,
because it just instantly decays
into lighter elements instead.

With such a short half life,
we’d have to slow down time itself
to even confirm it’s potential
silvery-white luster.

Hmmm, slowing down time itself.
Maybe that’s what we’d have to do
to learn a thing or two
about you,
Darmstadtium.
Because with your
history of instability,
with such short amounts of you
creating only a flash of damage,
we’ll let others wonder
about the potential for
oon-un-nihilation
before we truly
learn a thing
or two.

“from Hydrogen to Nothing”, periodic table poem by Janet Kuypers

from Hydrogen to Nothing

Janet Kuypers

from the “ Periodic Table of Poetry” series (#085, At)
(with references to the poem “Fantastic Car Crash”, 7/3/98)

Love is like tap water,
free flowing…
Remember when you were little,
just put a glass under the faucet
and quench your thirst?

Wait a minute,
it’s not like that.
Water isn’t free.
You even have to pay
for the water in your own home,
and
it’s not even clean.

What you’re getting is dirty.
And you still have to pay for it.

#

You know, they say us humans
are like seventy percent water.

And when I think of you,
and all the time we were together —

well, if you’re seventy percent water,
I have to remember
that it wasn’t pure and clean with you.
If this was love;
if this was you —
it wasn’t free.
I’m still paying for it.

#

I mean, they say we’re mostly made of water,
Hydrogen, oxygen…
But it’s like you were
an electron from Hydrogen to me,
one electron,
spinning around
the center of me,
always keeping
an all too tight
grip on me.

I would think I was free,
and there you would be,
that one presence
I could never get rid of.

You were spinning, orbiting,
spinning my head…
You were keeping your distance,
but still,
you made sure
you were always there,
holding me down.

If we’re mostly made of water,
and you spun around me
like in that Hydrogen atom,
you kept me gasping for air.
I needed that oxygen…
I know water is Hydrogen and oxygen,
I know I’ve got it in me,
I’ve just got to keep myself together
after dealing with what you’ve done to me.

#

When we’re seventy percent water,
by mass we’re only eleven percent
Hydrogen.
So most of the mass in our body
may be oxygen…
But by an atomic percentage
we’re sixty-seven percent
Hydrogen,
meaning most of the atoms
in our bodies
are Hydrogen.

Just one electron,
spinning around that nucleus,
just spinning,
and never letting go.

#

When I now think of you,
and the fact that you made me feel like nothing —
well, I think of what you’re made of,
and I have to remember:

we’re all made of atoms,
protons and neutrons,
infinitely small,
wound tightly together in the nucleus

surrounded
at a comparatively vast distance
by occasional,
tiny,
orbiting
electrons.

So when I think of you
I have to remember
that you’re made of those atoms
with really tiny cores —
and those atoms are filled with so much space
that you’re mostly made of nothing.

When I think of you,
I remind myself of this.

When I think of the nothingness you made me feel,
and the fact that you should mean nothing to me,
this is how I must think of you.