Neptunium poem by Janet Kuypers


Janet Kuypers

from the “ Periodic Table of Poetry” series

When they discovered the planet Neptune,
seeing that distant blue orb
and naming it after the Roman god of the sea,

scientists seemed to be in a mad rush
when discovering elements
to name the new element after the planet.

Someone originally named Germanium
after the (at the time) newly discovered planet,
and at three times the element ninety three

was discovered and given the names
bohemium, ausonium and sequanium.
But after all this research and all this discovery,

it seems fitting that the element
that got the name Neptunium as it’s name
is used on earth mostly in nuclear reactions.

Discovered by bombing uranium
with slow moving neutrons in nuclear fission,
Neptunium is now used in weapons applications.

So it might have something in common
with the name of the gas giants, as an energetic,
explosive ball or energy, despite the fact

that like the planet, with it’s deceptively
seductive blue hue, can deep down
still be so tumultuously violent.

But in ancient history and mythology,
Neptune was the brother of Jupiter and Pluto,
each of them presiding over the realms

of Heaven, Earth and the Netherworld. I suppose
Neptune ruled with a gentle hand, although
Neptunium always had that iron fist.