Magnesium poem by Janet Kuypers

Magnesium (#012, Mg)

Janet Kuypers

from the “ Periodic Table of Poetry” series

All this time,
I’ve only known you from afar.

Every once in a while,
I’d see you in the distance
while I was driving down the street.

I may have seen you
only eleven times in my life,
and I know a part of you
is essential in all of my living cells,
but as I said,
I’ve only seen you from afar.

Once, I saw you
outside my bedroom window
after the first snowfall
covered the land in a blanket of white.
That’s when I saw you
walking outside alone,
looking for your next meal.

I know you can leave
me with a sour taste,
but I know you are needed
in ATP, DNA, RNA,
and it aches me to see you suffer so.

I think I saw you with your children
as I sat out on the balcony
of a father’s house —
I watched you in the distance,
but I didn’t watch you alone.
After a while
someone said to me
that you looked peaceful,
but at another time
they would have shot
and killed you instead.

As I said,
I only see you from afar,
so I try to learn
of how you were created
from such large places,
at temperatures higher
than anything we could imagine.

I tried to learn,
because one day
I was told to go outside,
and that’s when I saw you
laying down among the trees,
never to walk away
from my home again.

I’ve always only
seen you from afar,
and suddenly,
as you lay there,
I could see your organs
shriveled and sunken in
after your skin
had pulled away
as you wasted away.
Suddenly
I could see traces
from your capillaries,
and I could trace
your rib cage,
outline your spine.

I know the heat that created you.
I know you’re highly flammable,
and I know that when you start to burn
you’re impossible to stop.
You fire bombed
in World War Two,
and the only way
they could stop you
was by dumping dry sand on you,
because you’d burn through the air,
and you’d even burn under water.

That’s why you’ve been used
in fireworks and in flares.
That’s why you’ve been used
for illumination and flashes
in photography.

So they call this
momento mori,
I thought,
when I grabbed my camera
to photograph you
in your final resting place.
Because
even though
I’ve seen you,
I’ve needed you, and
I’ve known the damage
you can do,
I needed to photograph you
right then and there.
I’m sorry.
I needed to
remember you this way.

Barium poem by Janet Kuypers

Barium

by Janet Kuypers

from the “ Periodic Table of Poetry” series

As Christmas approaches,
I get my glass ornaments out
for decorating the tree,
and it reminds me
of how the element Barium
is used in glass making
to improve the luster,
which is perfect for these ornaments.

Because I always thought
that Barium was used
to coat fluorescent lamps,
or add to fireworks
to make them a vibrant green
(not unlike a Christmas tree),
or even as a contrast agent
when taking X-rays,
and yeah, Barium compounds
can even halt the leaking
of X-rays from CRT TV sets…

A mineral containing Barium
is also a rare blue
fluorescent gemstone,
that‚s even the official
state gem of California.

So I guess it does make sense
that Barium could also improve
the luster of glassware…

But when I looked for
more information on Barium,
that‚s when I read
in the New York Daily News
and the Daily Mail
that a Tennessee woman
was actually being poisoned
by her doctor husband
with Barium. This woman,
living on Lookout Mountain,
was suffering from a mysterious
illness for months, until
she found out
that her physician husband
had been poisoning her
for five months by putting
Barium in her morning coffee.

Wow, so I suppose having a little
Barium in your system
once or twice in your life
for an X-ray won‚t due you in…
The element Barium can
add luster to glassware, or
give an intense green in fireworks,
coat fluorescent lamps, or stop
X-rays from coming to you
through your TV screen —
the element Barium can
even help doctors see better
in X-rays to help someone‚s life.
But don‚t put it in your morning
coffee every day,
because if you give someone
too much of what otherwise
seems like a good thing,
it can also be what kills you…

Silicon poem by Janet Kuypers

Silicon

Janet Kuypers

from the “ Periodic Table of Poetry” series

I knew that Silicon is good for plant metabolism,
which should make me be happy as a vegetarian
and a woman with I don’t know how many plants
potted and taking over my home.
But Silicon is barely ever needed for animal life…
In nature, Silicon seems to be better suited
for sea sponges. And although I love the sea,
the last thing I want to be called is a sponge.
And you know, if Silicon is used by anyone in the
animal kingdom, you can believe that I really dislike
breast implants made out of Silicon (or made out of
anything unnatural to the human body, for that latter).
And after my Lasik eye surgery, I even heard
they use Silicon for some contact lenses —
which makes me glad I don’t need contacts anymore.

So if Silicon doesn’t have a use organically for humans,
I guess it makes sense then that Silicon is actually
used by humans in explosives and pyroptechnics.
But really, for the abundant element, Silicon
has to have some better uses for us humans,
like in semiconductors, or even intregrated circuits…

But whenever I go out and walk on the beach,
feel the sand work it’s way between my toes,
I should remember that Silicon Dioxide
is pretty much sand.

Then again, I heard that people were suing Taco Bell
a few years back, because their “Taco Meat Filling”,
was only one third meat, plus flavorings, and a bit of
Silicon Dioxide.

So yeah, people wondered, and were asking
if Taco Bell “meat” was actually made with sand.

I know, I know, Taco Bell had to explain that Silica —
or Silicon Dioxide — is commonly used for foods,
and Taco Bell was just using the harmless oxide
to absorb water and keep the meat from clumping.

Hmmm… So if Silicon is common enough
to be under our feet on beaches around the world,
and if this vegetarian should be pleased
that Silicon is used during plant metabolism,
then I guess I’ll have to expect us humans
to use Silicon (even if we don’t need it)
to help us see better with eye contacts,
or comically exaggerate our breast size,
or even use integrated circuits
to help set off some cool fireworks,
because Silicon has to be cooler
than just the beauty of the beach at sunset.

the 7/22/12 Beach Poets chapbook
Download this poem in the free chapbook
the 7/22/12 Beach Poets chapbook,
w/ the Periodic Table of Poetry poems.
video
video

See YouTube video of Kuypers reading this poem at her Beach Poets feature 7/22/12 in Chicago (from the Canon)
video
video

See YouTube video of Kuypers reading 7 poems from her series “Periodic Table of Poetry” at her Beach Poets feature 7/22/12 in Chicago, including this poem (from the Canon)