Neodymium, “Periodic Table of Poetry” poem from Chicago poet Janet Kuypers

Neodymium

Janet Kuypers

from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series (#060, Nd)

I am drawn to you, / you pull on me so,
when I think of how / you’re so magnetic.

With your electric charge, / my motor’s going,
you get me charged up / thinking it’s a game…

You use my favorite gems, / Garnet and crystals,
and you make every point / seem laser clear.

You’re focus must be why / I’m so drawn to you
I must come to you / until you’re near.

And now you know how / I love my glassware,
so I was sent to / a glass blowing lathe,

and the glass blowers / were making glassware
with you on their eyes / so they could see.

They loaned me their specs, / I put them on —
and through the green-grey specs / the flame was gone.

I did a double-take — / there was no glare —
leaving me to see / just molten glass.

‘Cause on those glasses, / you weren’t alone —
you worked in pairs there / so we could see.

‘Cause to the Greeks / you are a new twin,
that’s where together’s / how you fit in…

 

And all of this time / I was drawn to you
but now you’ve proven / you can help me see.

Mendelevium, “Periodic Table of Poetry” poem from Chicago poet Janet Kuypers

Mendelevium

Janet Kuypers

from the “Periodic Table of Poetry”” series (#101, Md)

“Once, there lived and existed
a great learned man,
with a beard
almost as long as God’s.”

Daniel Posen wrote that,
about Demitri Mendeleev,
a Russian scientist
who created the
Periodic Table as we know it.

There’s even a sculpture
outside the Bratislava, Slovakia
University of Technology —
in the center is Mendeleev’s head,
fully adorned with metallic curves
for his flowing name and beard,
as rows of elements
emanate from his head.

Because while other scientists
tried to come up with ways
to order the known elements,
Mendeleev predicted
a system of elements,
based on their weights
and explaining their properties —
this idea showed the spaces
between the atomic weights
of discovered elements,
and explained the properties
of elements that would only be
discovered in the future.

It’s good to know
that just a few years after
the American Civil War ended,
that scientists globally
were able to understand
the relationship between
the elements, thanks to Mendeleev.

And it’s sad
that the science community
waited for nearly half a century
after this God-like scientist’s death
to mane an element after him.

#

Mendeleev did many odd jobs
during his life,
not unlike Albert Einstein,
with an element named after him
only two spots away
on Mendeleev’s Periodic Table.
And the thing is,
Mendelevium is only created
after smashing Einsteinium
with alpha particles…

But it’s sad,
that with all of the research
the world has done
to learn about this element,
we still know so little.
Mendeleev taught us
how to research and discover more,
but now that we found
only trace amounts of Mendelevium,
we still don’t know what to do…

#

Because once we’ve found you,
if you don’t give us enough
so we can learn,
we’re forced to wonder:
will you be more like Einsteinium,
silvery-white, radioactive —
but with an estimated enthalpy
that underlines your danger to us?
Because I imagine that you,
like Mendeleev,
will show us how to learn
then leave us alone
to struggle for you.

Iron in my Eyes, Periodic Table poem by Chicago poet Janet Kuypers

Iron in my Eyes

Janet Kuypers

bonus poem from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series (#026, Fe)
(stemming from “You’ve Killed Me”, written 10/25/11)
4/1/13

You think I was joking.
You think I wanted this to happen.

But this is what it boils down to.
I can no longer respond.

After all I’ve been through,
I’d think you’d understand.

Come to me.
I dare you.
Open my eyelid.
Shine a light
right into my eye.

See if I respond.

I even heard
that someone said
I looked so pretty
in my hospital bed here,
wearing nice eye shadow.

I know I’m a dark girl,
but they had to be informed
that
that wasn’t eye shadow, and
that I had two black eyes.

You see,
that’s how the doctors know
I have a brain injury.
When the blood seeps
out from around my brain,
it collects
only in my eyelids.

Iron gives color to blood,
and coming through
from under my skin,
my blood-filled
Iron-rich
eyelids
must have been
a pleasant
mauve
hue.

You think I’ve got an Iron will,
and I do.
But at moments like these
I wonder
if I have cried Iron,
leaving it in my eyelids
for you to see.

They say your eyes
are windows to your soul.
And mine have been darkened.
Is it by you,
is it by the world,
is it by the hand I was dealt.

Is it all
fate.

All I know
is that mine have been darkened.
Even if it is by Iron.

Hydrogen Cyanide, bonus poem from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series (for Hydrogen, element #01, H) by Chicago poet Janet Kuypers

Hydrogen Cyanide

Janet Kuypers

bonus poem from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series (#01, H)
started 9/5/13, edited 9/19/13 and 9/21/13, finished 9/22/13

He was once a college chemistry professor, so he
hoped he was a shoe-in to work with the Waffen-SS.

He ended up working at the Rundfunkhaus —
a Berlin radio station broadcasting Nazi propaganda.

But after his university was bombed, he took
what he could get and was grateful for work

that didn’t require him to use a gun. But when
the Science and Research Department at

the Reich Main Security Office gave him orders
to go to the Dachau camp to retrieve paperwork,

he solemnly went home to pack for his two-day
trip, driving there one day, returning home the next.

#

He’d seen the Sachsenhausen concentration camp,
35 kilometres north of Berlin, but Sachsenhausen

was more of a training centre for Schutzstaffel officers
before the SS men were sent to oversee other camps.

And although Dachau was small, it was essentially
the first, and set the standard for all of Hitler’s camps.

He felt the tension knot in his stomach grow,
even before saying goodbye his wife and two children.

#

Arriving at the camp the next afternoon, he learned
the lieutenant general was away from his office,

so he could only get the necessary paperwork
the next morning. Which left him alone

at the camp, in a stranger’s office. He paced.
A part of him didn’t want to go out there,

there was safety inside these office walls.
Here he could remain separate from the war.

#

After nearly an hour of pacing, he decided
to just go out there. Face it. Get it over with.

And when he stepped outside the air felt heavy;
he could feel the weight of the move he made,

the weight of his legs grew heavier; he dragged
his feet, making his way to the open walkway.

Although there was that heavy haze in the air,
he knew what chemical reactions had occurred

to leave that distinct smell in the smoke
and haze working it’s way through the air.

He saw across the clearing the doors close to the
“showers”, so he walked with a determination

to bring himself to the hall. He could hear
the sounds of people inside grow louder,

but he then caught a glimpse of a guard
that just made his way to the roof. As he

got closer, he watched the soldier open
what looked like a can, then shake it

into the vent at the centre of the building,
before closing the vent and walking across

the roof before taking the ladder back down.
From the moment anything from that can

made it’s way into that building, with
every subsequent step he took, he could hear

the wails and screams get louder and louder
from the Jews inside. He stopped for a moment.

Look, he thought, he knew what this was,
get used to this, was all he could think to himself

to get his heavy feet moving again. He
caught the soldier walking down the ladder

from the building, and quickened his pace
to catch him before he got far from the building.

Not able to see the ranking on his uniform shirt,
he quickened his pace to not yell for the soldier.

With the soldier still holding the jar in his hand,
he asked if he could see the can. Once he had it

in his hands, he looked at all elements on the label.
Zyklon B. Hydrogen Cyanide. He knew

this poisonous liquid boiled just above room
temperature, so he knew that all they had to do

was drop some from a sealed can into the open hall,
poisoning thousands in only twenty minutes.

He knew the Germans first thought of using
this Prussic acid against Napoleon in eighteen

thirteen — and if they had, it would have been
the first time Hydrogen Cyanide was used in warfare…

But look at him now, the chemistry professor,
reduced to thinking of how all the Jews inhaled

the bitter almond smell of Hydrogen Cyanide,
until it combined with their red blood cells,

causing death from oxygen starvation.
He suddenly felt he needed to take a deep

breath, get in all the oxygen he could. He saw
the blue stains on the concrete walls, then walked

back to the soldier to give him the empty can,
when the soldier, making small talk, said

“one of the older Jews pleaded to me,
‘I’m a decorated vet from WWI, I was in an

artillery battalion, we shot gas shells at the
British and Americans, I shouldn’t be here,

my paperwork’s with my luggage—’ And they
just kept telling him to go into the showers…”

And he knew in WWI we shot these shells into trenches
in France, so he shrugged and gave a slight grin,

to commiserate with the soldier, but he knew
that everyone fights their own battles in this war.

He was only a lieutenant, a lower-ranking attache
than the colonel who sent him on this job,

but he still held rank over this soldier, so he told
the soldier that once there were no screams inside

and they opened the doors to bring everyone
to the crematoriums, he wanted to be notified.

Then he walked away. At fifty metres he clutched
at his pockets to find his cigarettes and lighter;

he wanted anything to calm him down and help
him focus on anything else until it was time.

#

He stood in the field, chain smoking, until
he heard the running footsteps in the distance.

He looked at his pocket watch. Twenty minutes
had passed, as he saw a soldier running

toward him. He looked at the gas chamber
and saw they had opened the doors, so he started

his methodical walk back to where he was
destined to go. He acknowledged the soldier

with a wave, and quickened his pace
to the building. He saw a few different soldiers

this time, all waiting until the cloud of gas
was cleared from the chamber so they could work.

He walked to the doorway. It was dark,
but he could make out a pyramid of people

toward that small now closed centre vent.
From what he could tell, it looked like the Jews

tossed the babies and small children toward
the top, in an effort to keep the children alive.

One of the soldiers passed him as he stared,
so he asked him how long he had been doing this.

“Nearly a year,” he answered. So he had to ask
if doing this, if seeing this, bothered him.

The man only answered, “If you do something
long enough, you get used to anything.”

With that, he nodded slightly, and knew
he saw enough. He walked away.

#

Early the next morning, he came back to the offices
at the Dachau concentration camp, so he could

get his paperwork as quickly as possible, so he
could get out of there as quickly as possible.

#

The tension knot grew smaller in his stomach
the closer he got to his home in that drive,

but as he came to his home, he saw his wife
sitting outside their home, with all the widows open.

Once he got out of the car, he could hear
her coughing, sounding more and more hoarse

with each gasp. He only wanted to hold her,
but concern overtook him as she explained

that she just used a pesticide fumigant
throughout the house, and she could

no longer breathe while inside those walls.
He looked to the second floor of the house

for the children, and she told him they were
each staying the night at friends homes.

And suddenly he imagined that fumigant
that’s killing the vermin inside their home —

Hydrogen Cyanide was now in their home.
A form of Zyklon B was now in their home.

All she was trying to do was kill the vermin,
and he thought of the propaganda ministry

he now worked for, telling the nation to believe
that the Jews are the rats, the Jews are the vermin.

So he looked at their home, and told her
they would get out of here tonight, as far

as they possibly could. He then held her close
before they walked away, holding hands.

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

Gold

Janet Kuypers
Gold
from the ““ Periodic Table of Poetry” series (#079, Au)

Golden lights, displaying your name

When I saw you, I was so attracted to you.
Your Golden hair reflected the sunlight
the day we met,
and ever since our first encounter,
I desperately needed you with me.

You bought me gold jewelry,
and to this day I wear
your Gold chain around my neck,
your Gold ring around my finger.

You were go soft,
and I would do whatever you wanted,
but as time wore on,
I saw you would bend to me as well —
you seemed so malleable
when it came to you and me.
I loved how my Golden boy
would follow any choice I made
when we were together.

Golden lights, displaying your name,
Golden lights, it’s a terrible shame

You were like the glow of sunrise,
and when we were together,
you were coursing through my veins.
You were so valuable to me.
You were so precious to me.
I would have even consumed you,
if you gave me the chance.

Golden slumber steals your eyes

But you never gave me that chance,
and it was like the world was heartbroken
as so many came to your coffin
to see your Golden hair one final time.

They called me a Gold digger
because before before your cremation
doctors had your Gold fillings removed.

I kept your Gold wedding ring, too,
that must also make me a Gold digger.

In my mind,
you were perfection for me,
you were the summit
of everything that mattered to me.
When I think of how pure you were,
to this day,
nothing tarnishes my love for you.
That is why, on some early mornings,
I step outside
and feel the glow of the morning sunrise,
to remind me
of our neverending love.

(the first two italicized sets of lines are from the song
“Golden Lights&#8221, by the Smiths. The last italicized line
is from the song “Golden Lights&#8221, by the Beatles.)

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

Gallium

Janet Kuypers

from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series (#31, Ga)
(based on the poem “Almost the Best Part”)
10/2/13

Isn’t that moment of expectation
almost the best part?

How it melts in your mouth
and not in your hands…

Or,
is it the most
heart-wrenching
part.

When you think everything is over,
you see
that at 30 degrees C
everything melts away.

And you think you shouldn’t be doing this,
that this can’t be happening,
but on a hot day —
everything is held in peril.

Because as I said,
everything can melt away.

Yeah, I know how they say
it melts in your mouth
and not in your hands,
but after a lick,
it doesn’t have much of a taste,
it’s a bit astringent
and has a metallic taste
that lasts a few hours.
But as I said,
it melts in your mouth
and not in your hands,
but no one even knows
what it tastes like
when it’s molten…

But still,
with a low melting point
and a high boiling point
and no toxic vapor,
it contracts as it melts
(much like water).
It actually floats
on it’s own liquid.

You want to see it
floating away on itself like that,
you want to see
what you think are the laws of nature
being broken,
so you wait for that moment of expectation,
to see that moment of change,
and wonder
it that’s almost the best part.

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

Europium

Janet Kuypers

from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series (#63, Eu)
(based on the poem “Too Much Light”)
10/2/13

too much light makes the baby go blind
and too much light makes the moth
rush into the flame
and die in a glorious blaze of glory

A scientist placed parts of you
in a tube,
removed all the air he could
and sent
an electrical current right through you.

It glowed
And he called it a Cathode Ray.

I have seen the light;
I have seen your red hue.

You say you make everything bright,
but what is my choice:

burn in that red flame
if I get too much of you,
so I can burst quickly?
I know they even dope plastics
with you for lasers, for what,
so you’d be ready
for a quick kill?

So, what,
do I burn in that red flame?
Or do I keep giving myself
only trace amounts of you,
taking your red intensity
bit by bit,
thinking I’m not
giving myself
enough, but still,
you absorb me slowly?
Until you pull me in?

Because either way,
you’ll try to absorb me in,
right down to my neutrons.
I mean, they’ve been
doping what I use
all the time with you
for all of my life now,
and I didn’t even know it.

Yeah, they say too much light
makes the baby go blind.
But what does it do
when it’s been with you
all your life?
Will it kill you then?

They keep talking about
too much light,
but I wonder
if it’s a question
of the right kind of light.
Because,
you haven’t taken me out
yet —
I seem to be doing
pretty well with you.
So they might be talking
about the danger,
but if you know
what you’re doing,
maybe enough of you
is just what I need.
I’ll take my chances
with you,
because if you’ve been doped
into what I use,
maybe the addition if you
is exactly hat I need.

Curium, “Periodic Table od Poetry” poem by Chicago poet Janet Kuypers

Curium

Janet Kuypers

from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series (#96, Cm)
10/23/13

Searching through storage
for my wedding clothes,
I ignored my white wedding dress
and reached for the wedding veil.
It might not be true
to my Halloween costume,
but I had to wear something
to show that my black long-sleeved dress
was actually a wedding dress.
I’ll carry a small bunch
of white flowers
to make what otherwise
seems like a “goth wedding”
look complete, but still,
I’ll have to explain
that my Halloween costume
is my interpretation
of Marie Curie
on her wedding day.

I mean, I had to wear this
for my Halloween costume,
I mean, I’m writing poetry
for every element
in the Periodic Table,
and I know that Marie Curie
discovered a few of these
elements herself, and one
was even named after her.

And maybe it’s wasn’t goth,
but a diligent work ethic
that caused Marie Curie
on her own wedding day
to wear a black dress —
so she could wear the same
black dress later for her work.

And yeah, when she worked
she was getting messy with her
radioactive elements
(ergo the black dress, I suppose),
but when she studied
the radioactivity
of some elements
seeming higher at times,
she deduced that there
must be something else
causing the radiation.

And there was;
she even coined the
term “radioactivity,’
while she discovered
the two radioactive elements
radium and polonium.

But looking back on her life,
maybe wearing the black
dress was appropriate,
because she soared
in all the schooling
she could legally take
(at the time, she couldn’t
enroll in a higher education
because she was female) —
so she eventually had
to go underground learning
for higher education
in makeshift classrooms
that lasted only a few days
before a government raid
would cause the “schooling”
to have to move again.
She then left Poland for Paris,
was able to go to school,
but was still penniless and hungry.

But after her second degree,
she met her Pierre,
who worked with her
even after their marriage
(where they gave each other
bicycles as wedding gifts).

I know, I know, I’m going
on and on about Marie Curie
for my Halloween costume,
and there’s even an element
named after her, but she
didn’t discover that element,
so does Curium have any
relationship to Marie Curie?
Well, other than the fact
that Curium’s radioactive
(Curium is actually one of the
most radioactive elements),
Curium is now used to help
scientists learn and discover,
much the way Marie Curie did.

Curium helps people, to help
power artificial pacemakers.
But it’s even used in alpha-particle
X-ray spectrometers that are
installed on lunar and Mars rovers
like the Sojourner or the
Spirit and Opportunity rovers.
It’s even used on a spacecraft
to probe the surface of a comet.

Hmmm… Because it’s radioactive,
Curium is dangerous to us humans,
even though it really does have
a certain glow to it…
But it is nice to know that,
like Marie Curie,
we can use this element
to research and learn.
Besides, both being a goth girl
and loving to dive into my work
is really making me take a shine
to this black wedding dress idea…