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.

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.

Scandium, poem by Janet Kuypers


Janet Kuypers

from the “ Periodic Table of Poetry” series — #021, Sc

You have been so rare to me.
I’ve wanted to know you,
I’ve wanted to see you,
but you’re more common in the sun
than you are right here,
and the only way you’re made
is in the explosion of supernovae.

The scant amounts of you
the entire world knew
were once used in Russia,
prepping for cold war battle.

And you may be strong,
you may give us strength,
but your more violent strengths
come from your creation,
in a burst of radiation
that outshines the galaxy.

I know you’re more common in our sun,
but the energy in a supernova’s explosion
equals all of the energy our sun ever releases.

That’s where you come from.
And that’s why I’m drawn to you.
That’s why I want to know you.
Besides, even though we beat the USSR,
we’ll hedge our bets
to understand you
for any strengths we can get.