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


Janet Kuypers

from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series (&#03559, Pr)
with elements of the poems “a Match” and “Rings Like Gravestones”

“I once set fire to my fingernail.
I wanted my finger to be a
human candle.”
She dropped another match into her glass.
The flame sizzled
in the drops of drink at the bottom.

In a corner booth, in this small club
the flame she aroused looked like
any other table light.
But if you looked too closely,
the light would scorch your soul,
would burn your eyes hollow.
That little piece of energy she held
could be so intense
that you needed that Praseodymium
in your eye glasses
just to look for another second.

The flame she aroused
looked like any other light,
but she knew she was destined
for the big screen,
complete with studio lighting
and projector lights
from the motion picture industry
broadcasting her to the world
through arc lights.

So she struck another match
at the side of the box.
Six or seven lay on the cocktail napkin,
ten more at the bottom of the glass.

She’d watch the reflection
of the gemstones in rings
across her fingertips
reflecting that flame.
The yellow-green cubic zirconia
on each of her fingers
bounced the light of the flame
in thousands of directions.

She likes gemstones
on her rings, she doesn’t bother
with big earrings
or expensive necklaces —
she looks at her hands
because she likes rings;
she can’t help it.

A few of those peridot-inspired stones
were gifts from a loved one,
because they knew they were dying soon.
So she becomes the only one
treating these rings live gravestones,
even when no one has even died yet.

And the person that gave her these rings,
she knows they want to be cremated.
Just then you could see the flame
dancing at her fingertip.
She shook the match. She dropped it in her glass.

Beauty in the Eyes of Einsteinium, bonus “Periodic Table of Poetry” poem from Chicago poet Janet Kuypers

Beauty in the Eyes of Einsteinium

Janet Kuypers

Bonus poem from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series, #099, Es
based on the poems “Beauty in the Eyes of Einstein” and “Einsteinium”

Einstein dismissed some of his theories —
even some we may know all too well.

Einstein didn’t like some of his theories
because he thought they weren’t beautiful.

And I wonder:
what is beauty?

Is it the geomagnetic aberrations
of the Aurora Borealis
dancing along the horizon
at the arctic circle?

Is it the eternally changing
wisps of volcanic trails
in the Saturn moon Titan’s atmosphere?

Or is it converting matter into pure energy
with just the right formula?

We ask, what is beauty?

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
So it makes me wonder…

Einstein understood
that everything was relative…

Because once he fathomed
the relationship
between matter and energy,
once he understood
the interconnectivity
between matter and energy —

he understood that his knowledge
in the hands of evil men
could mean that his Fatherland,
the land he escaped from,
he understood that Hitler and the Third Reich
could be working on an atomic bomb,
converting so little matter
into so much devastating energy.

Einstein understood the gravity
of his writing a letter
to appeal to Roosevelt
to create this bomb,
to protect us from Germany.

imagine the finality
of naming an element discovered
after the first explosion
of the hydrogen bomb
Albert Einstein.

Because really,
in a way,

So we ask, what is beauty?

Because chemists will make it clear
that Einsteinium
has no known uses…
But think about it:
is there any logical reason
to grow a certain flower
and purchase it at inflated prices
to give to someone you’re smitten with
on an early date?
Is there any logical reason
to accept the De Beers company
global stranglehold
over stopping the release
of an otherwise common crystal
so that a loved one can cherish
a clear stone on their left finger
to show the world
that they’re otherwise
Is there any logical reason
to claim a song
for a slow dance
on your wedding day?

Of course not.
But we do it anyway,
we keep dried rose petals
from that infatuating relationship,
women constantly ooh and aah
over engagement ring sizes,
and married people
intrinsically feel
they have to dance
when they hear
their wedding song.

How illogical.
But how beautiful.

So we ask what is beauty.
And all scientists seem to
use Einsteinium for now
is basic scientific research,
but that seems oddly fitting,
since that is what
Einstein did best.
To think.
To research.

And that
is beautiful.

Boron from the Big Bang, “Periodic Table of Poetry” poem from Chicago poet Janet Kuypers

Boron from the Big Bang

Janet Kuypers

from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series (#005, B)

The Higgs boson,
the Higgs particle.
The God particle,
as some have called it.
It’s an elusive
elementary particle
theorized about
for nearly half a century.

They call it the God particle
because it might have created
all matter.

You see, scientists
are trying to figure out
how the Big Bang
started to evolve.
You see, the theory
is that all of the universe’s energy
was created
from this massive explosion
But the question remains:
how did any
of that energy
turn into matter?

Because during the first
few minutes of our universe
after the Big Bang,
the temperature was so hot,
that it was too hot
for any binding energy
that could have supported
any matter, even hydrogen
or it’s isotope deuterium.
With temperatures so hot,
this bottleneck
delayed the formation of anything
until the universe
was cool enough
to make anything
out of anything.

But just a few minutes
after the Big Bang,
elements burst forth,
because the universe
suddenly got cool enough.
But at twenty minutes
after the Big Bang,
the universe was suddenly
TOO cool for nuclear fusion
or nucleosynthesis,
and THAT is when elemental
abundances were nearly fixed…

That means
hydrogen, helium
and trace anounts
of lithium, beryllium
and Boron
were the elements formed
in those first three minutes
of the Big Bang.
(Sorry, any elements
starting at carbon or higher
were only formed
after stars were around
to create them.)

…So the creation
of matter out of energy
during the formation
of this universe
only happened
in an insanely brief period
of the universe’s history.
Was it just
the insanely hot temperature
in this insanely short period
that did it?

And what does this
have to do with
the Higgs boson particle anyway?

Well, scientists believe
this Higgs particle is a part
of the Higgs field,
an invisible field of energy
throughout the entire universe.
That Higgs particle
interacts with whatever energy
passes through the Higgs field.
And with this interaction,
massless particles,
they trade their energy
to gain mass
when passing through.

And this Higgs field,
in the beginning of the universe,
helped create matter.

Which helped create us.

Higgs helped create matter,
including the first elements
in the universe,
from hydrogen
to the comparatively heavy

five electrons is heavy
in the formation of the universe.

Yeah, Boron,
which helps keep our bones strong.
Boron treats osteoarthritis.
Boron builds muscles,
and when it comes to
trying to understand this science,
it even improves our thinking skills.

We’ve known of Boron
for thousands of years,
from the deserts in Tibet,
or from China in glazes
through to Persia
before it got to Italy,
where it was used
for medical purposes.

Well, knowing how long
we’ve used Borax for cleaning,
or even that Boron’s used
to make the strongest
magnet ever made,
it’s nice to know
that we also understand
how much this
is vital in everything in our lives,
from our muscles and bones
to the very creation of the universe.

Yeah, it’s cool to see
how scientists
are starting to piece together
how matter came to be
in this universe,
because without that Higgs field,
and without that Higgs particle,
energy would never
have turned into
to create any


or even create us.

Scandium, poem by Janet Kuypers


Janet Kuypers

from the “ Periodic Table of Poetry” series — #021, Sc

You have been so rare to me.
I’ve wanted to know you,
I’ve wanted to see you,
but you’re more common in the sun
than you are right here,
and the only way you’re made
is in the explosion of supernovae.

The scant amounts of you
the entire world knew
were once used in Russia,
prepping for cold war battle.

And you may be strong,
you may give us strength,
but your more violent strengths
come from your creation,
in a burst of radiation
that outshines the galaxy.

I know you’re more common in our sun,
but the energy in a supernova’s explosion
equals all of the energy our sun ever releases.

That’s where you come from.
And that’s why I’m drawn to you.
That’s why I want to know you.
Besides, even though we beat the USSR,
we’ll hedge our bets
to understand you
for any strengths we can get.