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


Janet Kuypers

from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series (#22, Ti)
(based on the poem “The Way You Tease Me”)

What I think I like the most about you
is the way you always leave me wanting more.
The longer I’m out in the sun, the more red
my nose and cheeks get, and the more I want
to slather you all over me to protect me.

What I think I like the most about you is how
whenever I see you around me, you consume me
like a wave of heat on a summer afternoon.
Seeing your metal along my flesh teases me
until sweat dances down my hairline and tickles my neck.

What I think I like the most about you
is when you say that absence makes the heart grow fonder,
because you’re like the fireworks I only see
on special occasions, and with your absence
I want you more, so you couldn’t be more right.

What I think I like the most about you
are the things that make me think I have to fight for you,
are the things that make you cost just too much.
It’s true, the market determines your worth to the world,
even if you’re always priceless to me.

What I think I like the most about you
is the fact that you can lead the way to help me
fly high into the sky, so I could see any corner
of the Earth, or even see the Universe beyond
our narrow global vision. You do that for me.

What I think I like the most about you
is the fact that you seem so common in the world,
but you manage to hide yourself in just the right way.
But still, you’re everywhere from dental implants to cell phones,
to engagement rings to jet engines to space ships…

What I think I like the most about you
is the wondering about you, is the yearning for you.
That’s what I like. This high-charged guessing game.
You make me work so hard just to find you. You leave me
to think about the possibilities. And that’s what I like.

‘Old Star, New elemental Tricks’, bonus “Periodic Table of Poetry” poem by Chicago poet Janet Kuypers

Old Star, New elemental Tricks

Janet Kuypers

bonus poem from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series, with Arsenic (#033, As) and Selenium (#034, Se)

When the Big Bang first exploded,
the only elements it could muster
were hydrogen and helium
and a smidgen of lithium and boron.

Higher elements were only created
after the creation of stars.

But scientists have now discovered
that in an ancient star
in the faint stellar halo
surrounding the Milky Way,
astronomers have detected
the presence of Arsenic and Selenium.

Now, I’ve only known Arsenic
as highly toxic, and scientists
pulling phosphorus from the sextet
of life while down at the Arsenic-rich
Mono Lake to fill DNA with Arsenic.

And Selenium is used for horses,
but can kill a person if ingested
regularly (even leaving a garlic
taste when given to victims).
Hmmm, and I like garlic so much…

But these two elements,
sitting right next to each other
in the Periodic Table, transition
from light to heavy elements,
and have never been found
in old stars — until now.

You see, stars like our sun
usually make the lighter elements
(like, up to oxygen),
and heavier stars can make
elements as high in the Periodic Table
as iron. Any elements
heavier than that
(like Arsenic and Selenium)
have to be made by
neutron-capture nucleosynthesis.
So, thanks to the nuclear reaction
from inside the heaviest of stars,
scientists found Arsenic and Selenium
in a 12 billion year-old halo star.

And they say the universe
is like 13.77 billion years old,
so when I’m talking old star remanants,
I’m talking infancy of the universe stars.

(And we thought we were the only ones
who know how to utilize these
poisonous elements here on earth,
and now we see that stars
from the ancient history of this universe
have been creating this stuff for eons…)

So they’ve discovered
quite a new trick
from this old star,
which means we now know how to look
for elements in other stars,
and maybe explain why
some elements appear on earth.
Cause, it’s all science,
and we can explain away
the mysteries of what’s good
and bad here on planet earth,
and trace it all the way back
to the toddler years of
this entire universe too…

Okay, it’s all about the Oxygen, bonus “Periodic Table of Poetry” poem from Chicago poet Janet Kuypers

Okay, it’s all about the Oxygen

Janet Kuypers

bonus poem from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series (&#035l8, O)

Okay, so I like to think of myself
as a history buff.

And no, I don’t pay attention to
American history,
or even the details of, like, the ancient
Roman Empire
or anything – for the most part,
I’m not even
interested in the history of people…
To quote Linus
in Peanuts, “I love mankind, it’s people
I can’t stand”…

Yeah, I know, my history’s older than the
human race:
how was this Solar System formed?
Or the Earth?
How was this planet able to sustain life
so that we humans
could sit around thinking about
this stuff?

As I said, when I think history,
all I can do
is gather evidence and theorize…
But really,
that just shows that there are times
when I’m actually
transfixed on a truly more universal


So look, I know I’ve studied way back
to when matter
didn’t even exist yet in this Universe,
or how matter formed.
I know theories about asteroids bringing
the building blocks
of life itself to this planet. And sure,
scientists think comets
brought water to planet Earth, too.
But when I think
of early Earth, when it formed, it was a real
mess, there were
constant bombardments with objects
from outer space,
volcanoes were going off constantly,
and the atmosphere
was all sulfur and methane, thanks
to the volatility
of Earth mach one. And okay, comets
may have brought water,
and water has Oxygen in it, but really,
back then the atmosphere
was a bunch of un-breathable stuff
to us humans.

Okay, so because there was no Oxygen
in the atmosphere,
any life that started on Earth mach one
probably thought
Oxygen was poisonous. (Because okay,
I know there’s nitrogen
in our atmosphere, but if there was
no Oxygen
and it was replaced by sulfur
we couldn’t live,
but early life living in a sulfur-rich
may find Oxygen is toxic to them, right?)

Okay, so I know
the universal historian inside of me
wanted to know
how Oxygen actually got into our air,
so human life
(or any life as we know it here on Earth)
could actually begin.


Okay, so paleontologists study fossils,
and the found some
that are two hundred million years old,
like in Earth mach one.
Think about it: this was cyanobacteria from
two hundred million
years ago, near what scientists now call
the great Oxygen event
(which is what they call the biologically
appearance of Oxygen in the air).
Well anyway,
in Earth mach one, any Oxygen that existed
was just dissolved
by the molten iron (that same iron
that formed
the Earth’s inner core, I imagine).
But the thing is,
this cyanobacteria used photosynthesis,
making Oxygen.
And once there was so much Oxygen
that it couldn’t be
dissolved into the then saturated reserves,
all that Oxygen
stayed in our atmosphere instead.


I don’t know, I keep trying to piece together
this puzzle,
but this whole ‘Universe puzzle’ is a pretty
massive endeavor.
I mean okay, all matter that we can monitor
only takes up
maybe four percent of this Universe.
And I still don’t
know how to fit the idea of Dark Matter
into this puzzle
I’ve been working on… So maybe
I’ll have to reassess
learning everything about everything right now,
and work
with stuff like the Oxygen around me

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


Janet Kuypers

from the “Periodic Table of Poetry”” series (#67, Ho)

Got a set of poetry word magnets
(so you could arrange words on your fridge
to write a message, or write a poem),
and even though I remembered
that magnets have two sides with two poles,
I still took one of the magnets
(I think the word on this magnet was “stick”)
and turned it around, to see
how it wouldn’t stick to the fridge.

Now, Holmium has the highest
magnetic strength of any element,
so I thought about this magnet’s poles —
but I didn’t know that scientists
have been using Holmium
to try to discover the widely theorized
and avidly debated “magnetic monopole”
(a magnet that only has one pole).
Grand unified and superstring theories
predict their existence, and these
magnetic monopoles could explain a ton
about space, time, and the laws of physics.
But the theory is that there’s so little of it,
and nobody’s been able to even find it,
so they’ll keep using this magnetic Holmium
to try to find this hypothetical particle…

And it’s strange, when it comes to Holmium,
I mean, it’s used to color cubic zirconia…
And when it comes to that magnetism,
Holmium can even absorb nuclear neutrons.
But the cool thing is that Holmium
is used for dental and medical purposes,
and it’s even used with solid state lasers
to remove some early stage cancers
with only a local anesthetic.

Wow, that
and it can help scientists
understand more about the universe
(even if it’s only on a quantum level).

I guess there was a reason why
I was so drawn to these qualities….