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


a href=”http://www.janetkuypers.com” target=”new”>Janet Kuypers

from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series (#73, Ta)
(with references to the poem “High Roller”)

People expected
to see me around.
I couldn’t be a recluse.
So I got out my camera
and kept myself
hidden to the world
by separating myself
with a camera lens.

But I longed to see you
sitting again,
cigarette in hand…
I wanted to be able to
walk up behind you,
rest my hands
on your shoulder,
lean my head
next to your face.

I longed to have
my cheek near yours,
not touching,
but so close —
so close that I could
still feel the warmth
from your presence.

But wasn’t I doing that
when I tried to
take pictures instead.

So I then kept myself hidden.
I’ve been a recluse.
Just sat at home
and played video games
so I wouldn’t have to
think about you.

How did I know
you’d work your way
into my shell at home.

I vowed to never
call you again,
you tantalize me so,
but I’d have to remove
every cell phone
I’ve ever used…
You worked your way
into every small crevasse
in my modern world,
and still,
you never cracked
under any pressure
I ever gave you.

It made you
the strong silent type,
you always seemed hidden,
but still so influential.

I should know,
i’m finding everything
that leads me to you
when I try to escape you
in our technology
inundated existence.


I call you tantalizing,
and I think of Tantalus,
a king in Greek mythology —

after king Tantalus
stole secrets from the Gods,
he was forced to stand
in a pool of water
that flowed away from him
whenever he tried to drink.

Kind of like you,
how I seem to need you so,
but how we just
seem to mix.

Nobelium poem by Janet Kuypers


Janet Kuypers

from the “ Periodic Table of Poetry” series (#102, No)*

I never saw you.
You were the one thing
we were all looking for —
peace —
and we didn’t know
what it would look like
when we found it.

If we found it.

I heard that Sweden
laid claim to you first,
but I swear,
we were all searching for you,
and I think that like most Americans
we would even try to synthesize you
in order to lay claim to you.

Listen to me,
like all Americans,
laying claim to you.
Possessing you.

Maybe you’ve kept yourself
so well hidden
because we’ll never learn
how to live in peace…
Maybe we can only take peace
in small amounts,
mixed with our usual
anger and discontent.

I know you’ve been around
for so very long,
and I can’t remember
how many years
we’ve been searching for you.

Had your hair grown
to silvery white or gray
waiting for us
to truly want peace?
Have you grown rough and metallic
in your impatience with us?
Would you be a hazard to us
if we took you in
in sufficient amounts?

Because, we want to take that chance.
Because we’ve been looking,
and we’ve been waiting for you.
    * The discovery of element 102 was first announced by physicists at the Nobel Institute in Sweden in 1957. The synthesis of element 102 was then claimed in April 1958 at the University of California, Berkeley. Element 102 was first named nobelium (No) by its claimed discoverers in 1957 by scientists at the Nobel Institute in Sweden. The name was later adopted by Berkeley scientists who claimed its discovery in 1959. The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) officially recognised the name nobelium following the Berkeley results. In 1994, and subsequently in 1997, the IUPAC ratified the name nobelium (No) for the element on the basis that it had become entrenched in the literature over the course of 30 years and that Alfred Nobel should be commemorated in this fashion.
Little is known about the element but limited chemical experiments have shown that it forms a stable divalent ion in solution as well as the predicted trivalent ion that is associated with its presence as one of the actinides.
The appearance of this element is unknown, however it is most likely silvery-white or gray and metallic. If sufficient amounts of nobelium were produced, it would pose a radiation hazard.