Lead, periodic table poem from Chicago poet Janet Kuypers


by Janet Kuypers

from the “ Periodic Table of Poetry” series (#082, Pb)

I walked into the bedroom,
opened the closet door,
pulled out the cardboard box,
then opened it to pull out
a pistol case.
I set the piston case down,
opened it,
saw the unloaded twenty-two
and the filled magazine.
I held the magazine
filled with Lead bullets,
reminding myself
that it was always an option.

There’s so much more weight
in those Lead bullets.
They feel heavy in my hand.

Then again,
Lead aprons to protect you from x-rays
are heavy, too.

Lead is so common,
used for thousands of years,
from the Bronze Age,
pushing the Roman economy.
The name for plumbing
even comes from the Latin
“plumbum” because
Lead pipes were used.

And after all these years,
Lead’s not even used
in lead pencils,
that writing stylus
is just a lead mockup. . .

Because Lead comes
from the decay of uranium,
and sometimes could be radioactive,
but still, it can protect you
from things like x-rays
or even nuclear contamination.

So yeah, it can protect you,
and it can also be the missile
in an instrument of death.

As I said,
These bullets
feel so heavy
in my hands.

Iodine, Periodic Table poem by Chicago poet Janet Kuypers


Janet Kuypers

from the “ Periodic Table of Poetry” series (#053, I)

I saw a science fantasy show once
where a man made entirely out of tumors
could only regenerate himself to survive
by submerging in a bathtub of Iodine.

Now I’m not a tumor, I’m only human,
but I have to remember that you’re good for me,
you and you violet vapors,
we’ve just got to find out ways
to keep you with us as long as we can…

you’re rare throughout this Universe,
but lucky us, here on planet earth,
we’re the one with the water,
and you seem to be all over our oceans.

Lucky us, we need your nutrition,
and we need you to help us heal…

But as I said, you’re rare in the Universe,
which means you’re rare on this land.
And if we can’t get enough of you,
it might be an intellectual disability.

But you help me see right down to my bones,
and I don’t want to lose my faculties —
or what makes me me —
if I don’t have you.

You’ve disinfected my cuts and sores,
we’ve used you in medicines,
and… I’m sorry.
You may be rare in this Universe,
but I know how good you are to me,
and I don’t want to let you go.


Bromine, Periodic Table poem by Chicago poet Janet Kuypers


Janet Kuypers

from the “ Periodic Table of Poetry” series (#35, Br)

You’ve stopped the fire in me.
Oh, the zone you’ve tried to pull,
leaving a stench in your wake.

You wanted to stop my shaking.
You wanted to sedate me.
But I’ve learned better —
        you’re just so unsafe
that no one thinks you’re good.

You’ve been so corrosive to me,
and I know I haven’t seen you around,
but I’ve been trying to tell you:

You have no purpose for me.

The only thing you may be good for
is killing the vermin around me,
but at this point in the game
I’d rather keep things living,
so please, keep your distance.

Your toxicity depresses me,
and when you sneak into my drink
you cloud everything instead.

You think you make things
but trust me, that argument
is not enough for me.

So please, don’t poison me.
Please, don’t burn me.
Just let me get some fresh air again
and get you away from me for good.

Touching Cobalt, Periodic Table poem by Chicago poet Janet Kuypers

Touching Cobalt

Janet Kuypers

from the “ Periodic Table of Poetry” series (#027)

We toasted our anniversary
with Cobalt blue champagne glasses
after we looked over the Cobalt
and tungsten wedding bands.

Seems fitting,
since I am so attracted to you,
that we’re drawn to Cobalt,
one of the most magnetic elements.

I heard a physicist explain
that when two solid objects
are pressed together
they never actually touch.

Now, I can’t imagine it,
but maybe,
because electrons repel
all objects remain one molecule apart.

That must be why,
when we embrace
I want to hold you
tighter and tighter —

because I want to defy
the laws of physics
and feel that contact with you
as long as I possibly can.

Because right now
I don’t care about electrons,
keeping us one molecule apart.

When it comes to Cobalt,
it’s 27 protons and 32 neutrons
are would tightly together
with a strong nuclear force…
Its nucleus’ binding energy
is so strong,
that it only breaks apart
once it is broken down
into its isotopes.

It won’t break apart
in it’s pure form.

Kind of like us,
I suppose,
how we seem to be
so bound by physics.

Physicists say
that solid objects
can never actually touch.
And I’m sorry,
but when it comes to us,
that just can’t be.
Because I want to experience you
with all of my senses.
I want our molecules to intermingle.
I want us to actually touch.

Molybdenum, Periodic Table poem by Janet Kuypers


Janet Kuypers

from the “ Periodic Table of Poetry” series (#035;042, Mo)

I love this country.
We should protect our rights.

Gotta love
our military-

We gotta protect ourselves —

I’ll use everything I can
to be the one on top.

I know I’ve used you,

but it was wartime,
you gotta understand.

You gave me speed,

You were light on your feet,
but stiff as a board.

When things got hot,
you stood up to anything.

and I liked flexing my muscles with you.

I know it was wartime,

but I would have
made a Japanese sword outa you,

if I coulda put you together right.

And I know, I know,
you say I need you
for all my amino acids

to keep my innerds running,

but I’m still on my war-kick here,

‘cause when it’s war time,
that’s when I need you most.

People say that war’s no good,

but I say
you’re the meaning of life.

I love the U. S. of A.,

and with you by my side,
we can shove a boot up their ass —

it’s the American way.