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


Janet Kuypers

from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series (#37, Rb)
(based on the poem “Burning Building”)
10/2/13, finished 10/3/13

You tell me you want to be the hand
that pulls me from the burning building,
but you caused that fire.
They try to put it out with water,
but you turn it into hydrogen gas.
You give everything more heat,
and the fire only expands.

So every time I try to be rescued
you turn your back,
you claim you have more work to do.

So I will rescue myself this time again,
and I will wonder if I should stop trying
and allow myself to perish in the flames.
Now all I have to do is sit and wait
for another disaster to consume me.

I’ll wait for you to do your work.
Sitting and waiting is exactly what I’ll do.

You fascinate me with your fireworks, you think,
oh, what a pretty purple color. She’ll like that.
But I was never that fond of that color,
and I hate the damage you can cause.

When things get hot, it seems you melt
just above my own body temperature.
How can I survive with you like this?

My love for you is the deepest red, but
why do you tell me one thing and do another?
You really charge me when we’re together, but
why do you run away when I need you most?

I’m stepping over the wooden beams now,
and the flames are all around me. Here, look
at the blood dripping from my arms. Here,
smell my flesh burning. This is what you do.

You have been so volatile recently, that you
seem to react to everything I ever do, even
if it’s in an effort to save us. So, let me burn.

Can’t it be easier for me to just perish? I try and try,
and every time at the last minute, my figure
steps over the the charred remains and saves me.

If only you wouldn’t create the burning.
Is only you would exist for more than destruction,
even if it was only for purple fireworks, or
conducting electricity, or cooling lasers,
giving power to batteries, or outer space energy.

But I’m afraid to be with you anymore,
because you’ll even spontaneously ignite
in the air. I know our past, I know I can
absorb you into me, But I only know now
that you serve no purpose for me.

So after all this time, I only wonder if I could
ever feel safe with you, even just once.

Platinum poem by Janet Kuypers


Janet Kuypers

from the “ Periodic Table of Poetry” series

A secretary for a trading company
at the Chicago Board of Trade
started dating a trader
(even though he was a trader,
he seemed like a nice guy) —
and after he asked her to marry him
and they were engaged,
she cheating on him
by having an affair with a coworker.
They broke off their engagement
until he forgave her
and offered her an engagement ring
with a huge solitary diamond
in a thick Platinum setting.
Looking like white gold,
Platinum was more expensive,
so she was pleased
she got him to spend
more money on her.

Well, they married,
but within a few years
they were divorced.

It’s a shame that marriage
couldn’t last as long
as that Platinum engagement ring,
made out of one of the strongest
metal elements in the Periodic Table.

I wonder what they did with that ring.
I hope they returned it,
so a stronger couple
could better accentuate
that stronger Platinum ring
and be a better match for all time.

Because I know the Platinum Metal Group
elements are really strong and durable,
because Platinum’s been used in everything
from razor edges to prevent corrosion
to spark plugs, so they can be hotter
and have a longer life.

So yeah, because of Platinum’s
resistance to heat,
it makes sense that Platinum is used
in catalytic converters in cars too —
temporarily pulling the nitrogen
and carbon atoms from
nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide
until they can re-bond
into water and less dangerous byproducts
for the environment.

Because Platinum can really stand the heat,
Platinum’s used for temperature detectors
and high-accuracy electronic thermometers,
and some parts that are launched into space
have been made out of Platinum
because they could not only
withstand the temperatures,
but also prevent corrosion,
so everything being blasted off into space
could stand everything
the Universe may throw at them.

So with Platinum being so resistant to corrosion,
it makes sense that Platinum parts
are in computers, and even in parts
for neurosurgery… I’ve even heard
(though I don’t know the details)
that Platinum may be used
in cancer medication too.
(Wow, that would be great to hear,
if Platinum could also possibly
help people with cancer…)

But when I mentioned Platinum
to someone recently,
the only thing they thought
it was for was
“wealth accumulation”.
And I thought, “For what?
Like buying gold bars?”
Because even though I see
“Cash for Gold” ads,
I haven’t seen people or places
making “Cash for Platinum” calls,
but wealth accumulation must be right,
it has a higher value than gold,
and as we’ve discovered,
it could also be strobng enough
for a wedding band
to truly withstand
the test of time.

Radon poem by Janet Kuypers


Janet Kuypers

from the “ Periodic Table of Poetry” series

Went into Austria,
to the Gastein Curative Tunnel
where the ambient temperature
was close to one hundred degrees,
the humidity was almost eighty percent,
and the natural tunnel also contained
a shocking amount of radon in the air.

Now, I know the EPA reports
that radon exposure in the home
can lead to up to twenty thousand
lung cancer deaths per year.

And you know, I kind of
don’t want to get lung cancer.

But in the Gastein Curative Tunnel
in the “Hohe Tauern” mountains,
first explored to mine for gold,
they noticed the extreme heat and humidity.

But then they noticed that mine workers
with rheumatic problems
were getting better when there,
and they all had more energy.

After discoverig the Radon in the air,
they found that staying in the tunnel
for certain lengths of time
helped their ailments.

The Radon in the air helped
make their body heal itself faster.

I mean, people today still use this tunnel
for curing assorted ailments,
so I thought,
one visit won’t give me lung cancer,
maybe this is something I should try.

So I went to the Radhousberg tunnels,
wore a swimsuit and rested in the tunnel
for 45 minutes in silence with other attendants.

From breathing training,
I tried to take deep long breaths
as I lay in the tunnel
to get all the air I could
and soak in as much Radon as possible.

I saw someone opening and closing their hands
while they were laying in the Gastein Curative Tunnel;
it made me wonder if it would help my hands
from typing so much on the computer.

Yes, I was dripping wet
from the heat and the humidity,
and drank a ton of water,
but it was probably novel
to travel four thousand seven hundred miles,
to defy the EPA
and overload myself just once
with a radioactive element.