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

Technetium

Janet Kuypers

from the “Periodic Table of Poetry”” series (#43, Tc)
7/10/13

You’re named from the Greek word for “artificial”,
because you were the first element man ever made…

We wanted to discover, we wanted to find you out —
we’d even create you if this was the only way.

We can only find you after your brethren
have been broken apart to reveal you. But the thing is,

your name is a bit misleading, though, since
you can be found naturally, albeit in trace amounts.

Though it’s funny, we searched for you for so long,
and now we discover that you’re a by-product

of our nuclear power stations. Then everyone thought
we wouldn’t know what to do with nuclear waste.

You’ve been put into the environment as
“low-level-waste” for nearly half a century,

but what I’ve learned is that doctors inject
small amounts of you into patients with tumors,

so they can see exactly where they need to heal people.
People wondered what we’d do with our nuclear waste,

but now you’re used in 20 million medical procedures
each year, because your short half-life makes you safe

and the way you decay helps doctors see
exactly what they need to do to save a life.

And yeah, you’re nuclear waste injected into a human,
but they need such a small amount that radiation is low.

It’s hard to believe that we searched for you for so long,
and now that you’re injected into 20 million patients —

in North America alone — every year,
it’s good that we finally found you out.

Aluminum {April Fool’s Edit}, “Periodic Table of Poetry” bonus poem from Chicago poet Janet Kuypers

Aluminum {April Fool’s Edit}

Janet Kuypers

bonus poem from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series (#013, Al) – 4/1/13

On our wedding anniversary,
I try to remember
annual anniversary gifts:
we’ve passed wood, copper, iron,
and are just passing tin, steel,
and aluminum now.
What on Earth do I buy
for a gift that’s aluminum?
And how does Aluminum
represent a marriage?

Oh, I suppose
the pliability of aluminum
shows how our marriage
needs to be flexible
and durable, and like
aluminum, which can be bent
without being broken,
we have to learn to bend
to each other’s wills
so that we can be
stronger when we’re together.
And we are.

So, because of Aluminum’s
durability and pliability,
we see aluminum used a lot
because it mixes well
with others.

But in the body
it competes with calcium
for absorption, so it might
even lead to Osteoporosis…

So I guess that rules out
Aluminum cookware
for our anniversary…

This is really getting on my nerves,
trying to come up
with an Aluminum gift —
I better make sure my antacids
don’t contain Aluminum,
‘cause although it’s not good for my insides,
it’s used in so many other things
around us…

In the meantime,
I’m going to
grab some leftovers
from the fridge,
get it out of the
aluminum foil
and eat while I brainstorm
what his anniversary
present should be.

But wait,
maybe a picture frame would be good,
because if WE work well together,
an Aluminum frame
would be a different way
to hold us together, too.