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


Janet Kuypers

from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series (#038 Sr)

People seem to think
that they need to eat
a ton of red meat
in order to be strong.

They think eating slaughtered
animal is the only way
a human being is capable
of getting themselves protein.

And I know it may be a tightrope walk
to get what you need —

I know how you
can turn a flame
into satan red
(but that means
we use you
in red flares, or
even red fireworks)…

I know how a part of you
can turn radioactive
(like when the Chernobyl explosion
threw Strontium 90 into the air:

but yeah, we’ve learned,
and can use that Strontium 90
in cancer therapy)…

And since Strontium
can get into your bones
(since it’s similar to calcium),
salt Strontium ranelate
treats osteoarthritis.

The thing is, plants are higher
in Strontium than meat,
and because it’s like calcium
it stays in our bones.

Because when we tested
ancient bones,
Austrian researchers
that Roman gladiators

they ate
mostly barley,
beans, and
dried fruit.)

So yeah,
the strong,
Roman gladiators
(the confident,
Roman gladiators)

Sorry, but I’ve heard
of how run down firemen
started feeling better
after they cut out meat
(metaphorically, I mean,
they didn’t actually cut any meat,
no animals were harmed
in this experiment
in making people healthier)…

Because if just the right Strontium
can help your bones,
and it is more common
in plants than animals,
maybe people can realize
that they don’t need to eat
a ton of red meat
in order to be strong.
Because with a plant-based diet,
a little Strontium
can go a long way.

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.

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


Janet Kuypers

from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series (#63, Eu)
(based on the poem “Too Much Light”)

too much light makes the baby go blind
and too much light makes the moth
rush into the flame
and die in a glorious blaze of glory

A scientist placed parts of you
in a tube,
removed all the air he could
and sent
an electrical current right through you.

It glowed
And he called it a Cathode Ray.

I have seen the light;
I have seen your red hue.

You say you make everything bright,
but what is my choice:

burn in that red flame
if I get too much of you,
so I can burst quickly?
I know they even dope plastics
with you for lasers, for what,
so you’d be ready
for a quick kill?

So, what,
do I burn in that red flame?
Or do I keep giving myself
only trace amounts of you,
taking your red intensity
bit by bit,
thinking I’m not
giving myself
enough, but still,
you absorb me slowly?
Until you pull me in?

Because either way,
you’ll try to absorb me in,
right down to my neutrons.
I mean, they’ve been
doping what I use
all the time with you
for all of my life now,
and I didn’t even know it.

Yeah, they say too much light
makes the baby go blind.
But what does it do
when it’s been with you
all your life?
Will it kill you then?

They keep talking about
too much light,
but I wonder
if it’s a question
of the right kind of light.
you haven’t taken me out
yet —
I seem to be doing
pretty well with you.
So they might be talking
about the danger,
but if you know
what you’re doing,
maybe enough of you
is just what I need.
I’ll take my chances
with you,
because if you’ve been doped
into what I use,
maybe the addition if you
is exactly hat I need.