Actinium, “Periodic Table” poem by Chicago poet Janet Kuypers

Actinium

Janet Kuypers

from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series (#089, Ac)

So at my old job
we had to work with
this piece of machinery
that in order for it to work,
needed to be powered
by eight D cell batteries.

Yeah, we could have
plugged it in,
but there never was an outlet
in the places where
we actually used
this machinery.

And these eight
D cell batteries
we had to use
were lasting only
like
two to four hours,
so we had to
go through anywhere
from four to eight
sets of batteries a day.

I mean, that’s insane,
having to go through
all that battery power,
so I called the manufacturer
to see if any battery packs
had a longer life,
I even asked
if rechargeable battery packs
existed for it.
They said there were no
rechargeable battery packs,
but a sales engineer there
said they had a special
long life battery pack
that lasts several years.
Sounds like a good plan,
so I asked for pricing,
and found out it was
thousands of dollars.

Yeah, this battery pack
could run from
fourteen thousand dollars
to upwards of
forty thousand dollars…

But I was prepared to go
to our supervisor with
these figures, because
yeah, that’s a lot of money,
but if we keep using this machine
we’ll spend that on batteries
in less time.

So I called that sales engineer
again for more information,
and that’s when he told me
sorry, we couldn’t buy it.
Now, I know it’s expensive,
but I had to know what’s up,
and he said they could only sell it
to NASA,
the DOD,
and select US government agencies.

So yeah, I had to ask why,
and found out it was a special
radioactive thermoelectric battery
for use in outer space.

it seems that the
radioactive Actinium
was the fuel
for the work
that I need to do.

I guess it figures,
that the only thing
that could help out my work
is something insanely rare,
and insanely expensive,
and it’s best suited
for spacecraft —
not down here,
where I’ve got work to do….

Beryllium poem by Janet Kuypers

Beryllium

Janet Kuypers

from the “ Periodic Table of Poetry” series

I’ve wanted you with me.
I’ve paid for fragments of you,
spending what I could at the
Gem and Jewelry show for years,
because all I could afford of you
was aquamarine glimmers of you,
blue like the endless sky above.

In that aquamarine sky above
I’d see you in high-speed aircraft,
I’d see the Universe with your space vehicles,
even travel the information superhighway
in your communication satellites, before
you’d try to bombard me with your missiles.

I’ve needed you with me,
because I hear you make things stronger,
and I’ve needed that for so long,
for so many years. I needed that.

And when I found someone
that dated me for years, that
I thought I had a future with,
I took him with me to get your
green brilliance, wrap you around my neck,
wrap you around my finger. Frame you
in diamonds and gold, I’d do
whatever I could to get you.

Your emerald brilliance,
your aquamarine brilliance,
is what draws me to you, still.

I know it’s irrational, my desire for you,
I know that I don’t need you,
but you have been the window for me
to all of the things inside of me, and even
to everything beyond this world.
But with your colorful brilliance,
you give the world strength, you help me
see everything truly inside of me, help me
communicate with the world, even get me
beyond the confines of this world
When I lay it all out for you this way,
you have to understand
my attraction to you.
You have to understand
my desire for you.
I know, doctors say
I don’t need you,
but in a way, I do.
So I just wanted you to
understand
my seemingly
irrational need.