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


Janet Kuypers

from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series (#65, Tb)

Looking for better sound
remains at the top of the list.

Having better stereo speakers
at all group parties, meetings or settings,

having a portable sound system
anyone could take with them,

even using sound while in the car
to reduce traffic noise, hear better music,

or talk hands-free on your smart phone.

The possibilities seem endless,
but stereo speakers take up space —

so we need to use science and technology
to even help us meet our audio needs.

Companies create better and better
sound systems, earbuds for iPods

have grown smaller and smaller,
even with noise-canceling technology…

There has to be a way to use the world
around us to get us exactly what we have

decided we need.

So, after just a little research,
I discovered an element twice as common

as silver on this planet, and when it is mixed
into a compound, Terbium can help create

a “Soundbug” speaker that can turn
any flat surface into a flat panel speaker.

(Any flat surface, like an office window,
or your dining room table at home.)

You see, the Terbium-filled Soundbug
can be plugged into a headphone socket

and then suction to any flat surface —
literally turning that surface into a speaker.

Now, this Terbium-rich Soundbug
is only the size of a computer mouse,

and retailing at less than fifty bucks,
they’re targeting this to the youth market;

but a wide-range of technology users
are going to love this little gadget

that can re-purpose everyday flat surfaces
into speakers for all sorts of sound needs.

The thicker the flat material surface, the
better the sound quality of the Terbium-laced

Soundbug speaker, and yeah, the resonance
of the speaker material (wood, glass, metal)

can effect the final sound quality,
but in theory you could daisy-chain

a few of these Terbium Soundbugs together
to excite multiple electrical currents of the music

players, to excite the mock speakers,
to bring every party to life in richer stereo.

Now, I know Terbium is like a
“Swiss Army knife” for cancer diagnosis,

and I know it’s green luminescence
gives color enrichment to tee tees

and is even used in fluorescent lamps,
or lasers, or semiconductor devices…

But this whole “using what we have
to multi-purpose what we have” idea

is really beginning to stick with me.
This audio technology can work with

magnetostriction, like, in a car instead
of in a business meeting or a party:

in a car, the Terbium Soundbug
could create noise-insulating windows,

blocking out the excessive sounds of traffic
(and you know how I hate the sound of traffic…).

But to business workers in a car,
the mobile phone version of the Terbium

Soundbug could be stuck to a car windshield,
to allow hands-free, headset-free talking.

(Well, that may cost a little more
than the indoors Terbium Soundbug,

but no price is too high to stop people
from staring at their phones while driving,


So yeah, although it is more common
on earth than silver, Terbium may still be

hard to get sometimes — but if we can find
this many uses for this element,

I’m sure it’s demand will increase, because
pretty soon, Terbium will be desired

more than anything.

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.