Bohrium, from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series by Chicgo poet Janet Kuypers


Janet Kuypers

(from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series, #107, Bh)

This isn’t boring.
You won’t be bored with the details —
anyone interested in different kinds of attraction
should listen close…

Because Bohrium isn’t boring
if you find fusion fascinating.
Think about it for a minute —
what are the conditions
that bring two bodies together
so they join to create something new?


Think back the the times of year
when you have met people you later dated.
Was it in the summertime,
when the temperature was high,
when you were feeling all hot and bothered
when you saw that special someone
that you were instantly attracted to?
Maybe you were taking a break from school
or going to the beach to relax,
make yourself look just perfect
for that one chance encounter
that will lead to so much more…
        (Hate to tell you this,
        but that hot weather attraction
        is a lot like a hot fusion…
        Chemically speaking, after atoms are split apart,
         “fusion” is the art of getting different parts
        to come together to create something new.
        The sun’s a natural fusion reactor.
        Nucear reactors perform fission to split atoms,
        nuclear fusion, or “hot fusion” uses all it’s energy
        to slam those elemental atoms into each other,
        so they’re more likely to break apart
        and their parts can create new elements or isotopes.
        This is how scientists discover synthetic elements.)

But sometimes, sometimes, that attraction can come
not when the temperature is sizzling hot,
but when things seem bitter cold
and warm bodies have a tendency
to group together to conserve their heat.

I suppose you can say I     am “bonded” with someone now,
and when we met on a train commuting from work
it was the middle of January in a cold Chicago winter,
I was fully adorned in a winter coat, a hat,
gloves, a headband for my ears,
boots, a scarf covering my face.
Who knows, maybe that not-so-hot weather
gave us more of a reason to bond,
since it was only three months after we met
that we became engaged for marriage.

        (And I hate to say this, but scientifically
        there is a method of fusion for this as well.
        Cold fusion is technically the fusion of things
        merely at room temperature
        and not after nuclear super-excitement.)

And as I said, I didn’t want to bore you with these details,
but there are a lot of ways fusion like that
can even help in the discovery of new elements,
like Bohrium.
Because back in eighty one, element one oh seven
was discovered after bombarding bismuth two of nine
with accelerated nuclei of chromium fifty four.
They only produced five atoms of Bohrium 262,
but man, were they excited…
They were so attracted to Niels Bohr
that they wanted to name their element
nielsbohrium for the Danish physicist.
But wait, Russian scientists originally
wanted to name element one of five nielsbohrium,
so the Germans here at one of seven said
hey, we wanted to give props to Neils Bohr
for his work in cold fusion (since that was used
for the discovery of this element).
So the Russians relented,
but the element naming commission
said, wait a minute, we’ve never
named an element after the full name of anyone,
so, after they temporarily called it unnilseptium
(Uns, Latin for one oh seven),
they settled for just the last name
and crowned this new gem Bohrium.

And yeah, there are tons of isotopes of Bohrium
from all that atom smashing and bonding
with half lives from a quarter millisecond
to ninety minutes,
but there aren’t many atoms of the stuff,
so all of it’s properties are only extrapolated
from knowing it’s place in the Periodic Table.
But still, know how fusing things together
is the only way to make this new element,
makes you put a whole new spin on bonding,
attachment, creating something new,
that almost puts a glimmer in your eye
and makes you smile again.

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


Janet Kuypers

from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series (#52, Te)

When a couple is meant to be together
(but at their core they’re nothing alike),
you can see them come together almost violently,
before their anger pushes them away from each other.

Until they do it again, and again, and again.
It’s like they can’t stop. They can’t help it.

They rush to each other for a mad embrace,
they feel intense attraction that they can’t escape,
‘til they know despite their lust, they hate each other so,
and they do everything they can to break free.

It’s a sick cycle they’re stuck in.
This coming together. Then rushing apart.


There’s electricity in the air. I hear the buzz
whenever I walk by that street corner and see
all of the electrical wires, crossing in every direction —
I can hear the loose electricity jumping into the air.

Do you know why electric wires are spaced far apart
when they’re up high on poles like that? Well,
that’s because those Tellurium metal alloy wires
up high in the sky like that aren’t even insulated —

and they have a strong magnetic field with all that electricity
coursing through them. If wires were closer to each other
while up in the air, the wires would swing toward each other
because of their insanely strong magnetic attraction.

In being drawn to each other, an arc may form
between the wires, destroying them almost instantly.

But then again, magnetism in the wires switches polarity
a hundred and twenty times every second
(because ofelectricity’s sixty hertz frequency)…

That would make those wires want to repel each other
as often as they were magnetically drawn to each other.
So yes, for one hundred twenty times every second,
these wires would vibrate back and forth.

So if there’s no electric arc, these Tellurium metal
alloy wires would vibrate so intensely and violently,
that if they weren’t kept far apart
they would destroy each other, vibrating.


Tellurium is used in alloys with steel
to make high-strength conductors.
Abundant cosmically but rare on Earth,
it’s often found combined with gold:

in the first gold rush, this mix looked like waste,
so they used it to fill potholes or sidewalks.
Once they realized it was Tellurium and gold,
there was a second gold rush…

Acute poisoning with Tellurium is rare;
most organisms tolerate Tellurium.
Organic tellurides have antioxidant activity.
and can even be used to identify pathogens

responsible for diphtheria.
It’s optical refraction makes it perfect for glass.
It’s been used in color ceramics,
and gives rubber heat resistance,

In copper, iron, lead or stainless steel,
it makes the metals more machinable,
improving solar cell efficiency and electric
power generation, so it helps any energy.

I don’t know,
maybe that explains why
we’ve been feeling
this electricity in the air.

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


Janet Kuypers

from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series (#62, Sm)
(based on the poem “And I’m Wondering”)

I’m wondering if there’s something
chemical that brings us together,
something that brings us to our knees,
something that sucks us in…

Your stare from a distance haunts me;
I know that your look lasts longer
than the Universe itself, so, if we join,
would we stay together forever?

I’m wondering if you’re sensing what I’m
sensing, is it just me, am I making this all up
in my head, or when I glance up and catch your
eyes, do you see how you’ve taken hold of me?

I look at you and think that you’re supposed
to be the one that’s good for everyone else,
that you’re supposed go out of your way to help
everyone else, and the one thing I do know

is that you don’t break down like everyone
else seems to with me, so maybe this attraction
to you might not cause to you leave me.
Maybe you’ll absorb me in, neutron by neutron.

Because really, I’m wondering if it could work out
this time, if we’d have one of those relationships
that no one ever doubts, especially us,
because we know we’ll always be in love…

I’ve been so drawn to you, you have that effect
on me, I can’t help it. This magnetism
is undeniable, the heat you generate can actually
ignite in the air with me. Maybe that’s why

I’ve been wondering why I felt the need
to take your cigarette and inhale, exhale,
while the filter was still warm from
your lips, there just seconds before.

I’ve seen you work well with others. My loved
ones with cancer, you could even help them.
It makes me a little jealous, because I’ve been
so drawn to you that I want you for myself.

Because really, when I catch your eyes from
across the room, when I see your eyes dart away,
when I feel this chemical reaction, well,
what I’m wondering is, do you feel it too.

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


Janet Kuypers

from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series (#64, Gd)
(based on the poem “You are a Force”)

This attraction to you,
when I learn what you do:
are you a force of nature?

Is it your magnetism, and
how my need’s only magnified
as I draw closer to you?

That’s the only way
I can explain this,
you know.

I know this momentum
in your magnetism
chills me to the core:

but the world doesn’t know
that your magnetic refrigeration
is the energy we need…

you must have a power
no one else has harnessed,
to do this to me.

The force you have on me
makes my blood rush,
and with that blood-brain barrier,

I even look at MRI scans,
and you’re just the contrast agent
to enhance all my vessels.

In older times, the electric force
between us would even
curl me in an arc to you.

I know, I know, I must abide
by the laws of physics and motion
when it comes to you,

because, as I said,
with your dynamic equilibrium,
you must be a force of nature.