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


Janet Kuypers

from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series (#45, Rh)

When you say the word “menthol,”
images probably crop up in your head
of women holding a cigarette stick
like she’s using her smoke
as an orchestra wand,
tracing the line of smoke
like she’s conducting a symphony
with her mint-tasting cancer stick.

But menthol’s also used in lip balms
(I really like that stuff, too,
I like the minty flavor on my lips) —
it’s even used in cough medications.
It can be used in those Icy Hot patches,
menthol’s in decongestants
like Vicks VapoRub, it’s in
aftershaves to relieve razor burn.
Yeah, and speaking of the taste
in cigarettes or lip balm, menthol
is in mouthwashes, toothpastes,
even chewing gum.

So really, now that you know how
widely it’s used now, you can see
how menthol’s demand is now so huge
compared to the natural supply.
So in Japan, one man even won in 2001
the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for
a process to meet the demand
for more menthol worldwide.
This Japanese team used Rhodium
based catalysts for menthol synthesis.

And yeah, Rhodium is used in catalysts
for anything from automobile
catalytic converters, or making
certain silicone rubbers. And sure,
Rhodium is used for jewelry,
coating sterling silver to stop tarnishing
or electroplating white gold and platinum,
making it white and reflective.

I mean, the Guinness Book of World Records
gave Paul McCartney a Rhodium-plated disc
in 1979 for being history’s all-time best-selling
songwriter and recording artist.

Not gold. Not titanium. But Rhodium.

(And because Rhodium’s so expensive,
that World Records award disc given to
Paul McCartney isn’t even solid Rhodium.)

So I guess it’s kind of interesting that
this expensive decorative jewelry addition
is also used to give our chewing gum
that excellent minty flavor. So yeah,
when you’re worrying about how money
can seem tight sometimes,
don’t worry about the jewelry.
Just pop a stick of mint chewing gum
in your mouth, thanks to Rhodium,
and realize that we all probably
don’t have it that bad after all.

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


Janet Kuypers
from the ““ Periodic Table of Poetry” series (#079, Au)

Golden lights, displaying your name

When I saw you, I was so attracted to you.
Your Golden hair reflected the sunlight
the day we met,
and ever since our first encounter,
I desperately needed you with me.

You bought me gold jewelry,
and to this day I wear
your Gold chain around my neck,
your Gold ring around my finger.

You were go soft,
and I would do whatever you wanted,
but as time wore on,
I saw you would bend to me as well —
you seemed so malleable
when it came to you and me.
I loved how my Golden boy
would follow any choice I made
when we were together.

Golden lights, displaying your name,
Golden lights, it’s a terrible shame

You were like the glow of sunrise,
and when we were together,
you were coursing through my veins.
You were so valuable to me.
You were so precious to me.
I would have even consumed you,
if you gave me the chance.

Golden slumber steals your eyes

But you never gave me that chance,
and it was like the world was heartbroken
as so many came to your coffin
to see your Golden hair one final time.

They called me a Gold digger
because before before your cremation
doctors had your Gold fillings removed.

I kept your Gold wedding ring, too,
that must also make me a Gold digger.

In my mind,
you were perfection for me,
you were the summit
of everything that mattered to me.
When I think of how pure you were,
to this day,
nothing tarnishes my love for you.
That is why, on some early mornings,
I step outside
and feel the glow of the morning sunrise,
to remind me
of our neverending love.

(the first two italicized sets of lines are from the song
“Golden Lights&#8221, by the Smiths. The last italicized line
is from the song “Golden Lights&#8221, by the Beatles.)

Beryllium poem by Janet Kuypers


Janet Kuypers

from the “ Periodic Table of Poetry” series

I’ve wanted you with me.
I’ve paid for fragments of you,
spending what I could at the
Gem and Jewelry show for years,
because all I could afford of you
was aquamarine glimmers of you,
blue like the endless sky above.

In that aquamarine sky above
I’d see you in high-speed aircraft,
I’d see the Universe with your space vehicles,
even travel the information superhighway
in your communication satellites, before
you’d try to bombard me with your missiles.

I’ve needed you with me,
because I hear you make things stronger,
and I’ve needed that for so long,
for so many years. I needed that.

And when I found someone
that dated me for years, that
I thought I had a future with,
I took him with me to get your
green brilliance, wrap you around my neck,
wrap you around my finger. Frame you
in diamonds and gold, I’d do
whatever I could to get you.

Your emerald brilliance,
your aquamarine brilliance,
is what draws me to you, still.

I know it’s irrational, my desire for you,
I know that I don’t need you,
but you have been the window for me
to all of the things inside of me, and even
to everything beyond this world.
But with your colorful brilliance,
you give the world strength, you help me
see everything truly inside of me, help me
communicate with the world, even get me
beyond the confines of this world
When I lay it all out for you this way,
you have to understand
my attraction to you.
You have to understand
my desire for you.
I know, doctors say
I don’t need you,
but in a way, I do.
So I just wanted you to
my seemingly
irrational need.

“Palladium” poem by Janet Kuypers


Janet Kuypers

from the “ Periodic Table of Poetry” series

“Have you ever been to the Palladium?”
He asked me,
so I asked, “The one in New York?”
“Oh, the Hollywood Palladium? No.”
But the thing is, after the success
of the Hollywood Palladium,
New York converted the Academy of Music
to the Palladium in ‘76,
there are Palladium theaters in San Antonio TX.,
St. Petersburg FL, Detroit MI,
High Point NC, even Worcester, MA.
Sorry I haven’t been.
I was actually thinking
about how as an element
Palladium is a rare and lustrous silvery-white metal
(like other other platinum group metals),
and although it is primarily used now
in catalytic converters, which convert
up to 90% of harmful gases from auto exhaust.
Palladium is also used to make
fine-art black-and-white prints,
and Palladium even plays a key role in technology
used for fuel cells, combining hydrogen and oxygen
to produce electricity, heat, and water.
And the thing is, Palladium has been used
for jewelry as a replacement for platinum…

You know, I think it would sound kind of cool
to say you have a diamond set
in a Palladium band
instead of a platinum one.

I mean, it would then have one more thing
to make it worth talking about….

Then he asked me,
“Would you rather have a Palladium diamond ring
or perform at the Hollywood Palladium?
And I thought about it for a second,
then answered,
“I’d rather perform at the Palladium.
The ring is just a thing
I could get at any time.”

Then I saw the news,
stating that platinum was about
to skyrocket in price,
and I thought,
“wait a minute,
now might be a good time
to get that Palladium jewelry,
before the price of Palladium
goes up too…”