Calcium poem by Janet Kuypers

Calcium

Janet Kuypers

from the “ Periodic Table of Poetry” series

The media shoves it down your throat now:
how important it is to have Calcium,
especially women.
Make sure you don’t get osteoporosis
and take Calcium.
Drink an extra glass of milk each day.
It’s healthy.

And you know, I take my supplements
and have to take two Calcium pills daily
just so I can say I’ve ingested what
the USRDA says I should consume,
but I’m sure those pills barely get absorbed,
so I should at least eat more cheese
(since as an infant at six months I rejected milk,
and I can’t understand why it’s smart to drink
milk from another species as an adult,
when no other species would ever do the same).

But really, the more I think bout it,
the more I wonder:
adults didn’t suffer with osteoporosis
before the seventeen hundreds.
Was osteoporosis not discovered because
they didn’t know how to discover it,
or was it not discovered because no one had it?
And if it didn’t exist before,
what has changed in our society to make
osteoporosis (porous bones) a real concern
for so many people as they get older?

#

Just watched a documentary recently
that advocated a plant-based diet.
They even had a segment showing
the global promotion of meat consumption
so you could have enough protein in your diet.
And this documentary showed how China
had lived for millennia without excess
red meat or processed food in their lives.
And now with dietary modern “luxuries” in China,
alone with new record highs for heart attacks,
youth were interviewed on the streets of China
and asked why they needed to eat more meat.
They all said… for protein.
So it makes me wonder how vegetarians can do it,
or how vegans with a plant-based diet
can get enough Calcium into their bodies
to save them from bone decay and osteoporosis.

So as I looked into how to get Calcium,
I found that on earth it’s seldom alone,
but is chiefly found in sedimentary rocks,
and over the years us humans
have even used Calcium in construction
(makes sense, if we need Calcium so
we can have stronger bones).
Calcium carbonate is used in concrete
and mortar, lime and limestone,
and can even take part in glass manufacturing.
I mean, when researching, I found Calcium
is even used as a refracting agent
in the extracting of other elements,
like uranium, zirconium and thorium…
It’s a deoxidizer sometimes, it’s even
used as an alloy agent in the production of
aluminum, beryllium, copper, lead and magnesium.

Then again, Calcium arsenate is an insecticide.
Calcium carbonate can be used for acrylic torches.
Calcium chloride, in addition to it’s other uses,
can even provide body to car tires.
Calcium hydrochloride disinfects swimming pools.

Calcium phosphate is used in animal feed,
and Calcium is a food additive in vitamin pills.

Which brings me to Calcium in the body,
because ninety percent of all of our Calcium is in
our bones and teeth (which we wanna keep strong).
And some wonder if there’s a link between
too much Calcium (like twice the USRDA)
and testicular cancer, but hey, I’m just
worrying about getting enough Calcium
in my diet in the first place, you know,
to ensure I won’t get osteoporosis (much less
rickets, or difficulty with blood clotting).

And while researching this, I found
an additional place for getting Calcium:
egg shells. Yes, literally grinding them up
to add to your diet can give you lots of Calcium.

But when looking for ways Calcium is used,
here’s where the learning jackpot
paid off for me with food and health:
when making cheese, Calcium ions
influence the activity of rennin,
to actually make the milk coagulate.

So seeing this bonus application for Calcium
in this pizzatarian’s favorite food (cheese),
it then made me wonder if this “plant-based” diet
can actually provide enough Calcium…
And it really made me feel good to know
that although cow milk (i.e., drinking the
lactations from another species as an adult)
is an excellent source of Calcium,
soy milk and other vegetable milks
are fortified with enough Calcium
to make then a just-as-rich in Calcium
alternative to milk from an animal.

I know, I know, Calcium and it’s ions
are used in a ton of different things,
but I’m stuck on obsessing over my bones
right now.

And granted, Calcium carbonate (that stuff
that also aids in the creation of acrylic torches)
is the same form of Calcium in diet supplements,
and I do make a point to take them twice daily
with food, but… It made me smile to learn
that a doctor in a study found that as women
got older, if they took Calcium supplements,
they tended on average to gain
five pounds less than other women.
(Granted, that doctor even said he’d really be
“going out on a limb” to link weight loss
with Calcium supplements, but I’ll take whatever
I can get, or at least laugh at the coincidence.)

And hey, even though this relatively non-toxic
Calcium can be hazardous as Calcium metal
(found in cleaners), and taking too much
Calcium carbonate in antacids (like Tums)
can lead to serious health problem,
doctors have still found that enough Calcium
may seem to prevent some cancerous pollups…

So yeah, even though we’ve found a ton
of other uses for this element, I’m sticking with
possibly dairy (you know, for this pizzatarian) —
and definitely vegetable sources —
for getting this vital element into
my extended bones.

Fluorine poem by Janet Kuypers

Fluorine

by Janet Kuypers

of Scars Publications
from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series

Just got a postcard from my dentist
telling me it’s time to schedule
another dental appointment.
I thought about the fluoride toothpaste
I just changed to, and then
I wondered about water fluoridation,
the government adds fluoride
to public water supplies, you know,
to reduce tooth decay and hopefully
prevent cavities. Hmmm,
how much water would I have to drink
so I wouldn’t have to go to the dentist
so regularly?
Wait a minute, I just read that
for the fluoride to work, it has to remain
in contact with the teeth, so fluoride ions
that are swallowed won’t help.

Maybe I should just gargle with water more.

But fluoride is just one of the ionic compounds
of Fluorine, and I thought it was funny
when I found out that the name
for the mineral fluorite is derived
from the Latin word “flow”,
because it was added to metals
to make them flow.

Kind of like water, I suppose,
which we now add flourine to.

But you know, it’s not just teeth
that Fluorine can help…
I mean check this out,
Because of the stability
of the carbon-fluorine bond,
many drugs are fluoridated
to stop their metabolism
and prolong their half-lives
(I always wondered how they made
time-release drugs work..)
And now over twenty percent
of commercial drugs use Fluorine.
I mean, scientists have even used
the radioactive isotope fluorine-18
when performing PET scans —
and it’s amazing that liquid fluorocarbons
can hold gas in solution,
and can even hold
more oxygen and carbon
that our own blood…

Wow, I didn’t realize
how useful Fluorine was
for helping humans out.

But the thing is,
Fluorine’s actually really toxic,
some isotopes are used for insecticides,
and Fluorine attacks the eyes,
lungs, liver and kidneys,
and Hydrofluoric acid
is a pretty nasty contact poison.
Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)
have even been strictly regulated
through international agreements
for fear of our environment
and the depletion of the Ozone…
I mean, the U.S. Government
even has a slew of signs
for the dangers of this element:
It’s a toxic gas.
It’s corrosive.
It’s an inhalation hazard.
(wait a minute,
I thought it was so good for me,
how can it also be so bad?)

So too much of Flourine
in the right way
can be devastating for you,
and in other ways
it can help your bones
or help your medication.
Fascinating. I guess this is another way
we have learned to take
the bad with the good
(or is it that we have learned
to take the good out of the bad?).

Maybe I won’t start to gargle with water
because of the Fluorine,
and maybe I should just deal
with everyone’s inherent fear
of the dentist, and just go,
and come out of it
with cleaner teeth
for the next six months…

Radon poem by Janet Kuypers

Radon

Janet Kuypers

from the “ Periodic Table of Poetry” series

Went into Austria,
to the Gastein Curative Tunnel
where the ambient temperature
was close to one hundred degrees,
the humidity was almost eighty percent,
and the natural tunnel also contained
a shocking amount of radon in the air.

Now, I know the EPA reports
that radon exposure in the home
can lead to up to twenty thousand
lung cancer deaths per year.

And you know, I kind of
don’t want to get lung cancer.

But in the Gastein Curative Tunnel
in the “Hohe Tauern” mountains,
first explored to mine for gold,
they noticed the extreme heat and humidity.

But then they noticed that mine workers
with rheumatic problems
were getting better when there,
and they all had more energy.

After discoverig the Radon in the air,
they found that staying in the tunnel
for certain lengths of time
helped their ailments.

The Radon in the air helped
make their body heal itself faster.

I mean, people today still use this tunnel
for curing assorted ailments,
so I thought,
one visit won’t give me lung cancer,
maybe this is something I should try.

So I went to the Radhousberg tunnels,
wore a swimsuit and rested in the tunnel
for 45 minutes in silence with other attendants.

From breathing training,
I tried to take deep long breaths
as I lay in the tunnel
to get all the air I could
and soak in as much Radon as possible.

I saw someone opening and closing their hands
while they were laying in the Gastein Curative Tunnel;
it made me wonder if it would help my hands
from typing so much on the computer.

Yes, I was dripping wet
from the heat and the humidity,
and drank a ton of water,
but it was probably novel
to travel four thousand seven hundred miles,
to defy the EPA
and overload myself just once
with a radioactive element.

Zirconium poem by Janet Kuypers

Zirconium

Janet Kuypers

from the “ Periodic Table of Poetry” series

So I was at the Gem and Jewelry Show
with my girlfriend, and a man
I thought would ask me to marry him one day,
and my girlfriend stopped at a booth
amongst the rows and rows of vendors
and told me to look at a huge engagement ring.
Well, I didn’t want to look, I didn’t want
to get my hopes up, but seeing the brillance
of the awe-inspiring stones made me ask
for the price of one particular ring.
They told us it was three hundred seventy-five
dollars. And we were confused, this ring
should be at least two grand, but then we saw
that this was a booth of cubic zirconia jewelry.
How disappointing, we thought, we want
the real thing. But looking back, I had to admit
that the Zirconium was unmistakably breath-taking.

I don’t know if Zirconium is as short-lived
as that relationship with the man that went with me
to the Gem and Jewelry Show in Chicago
that I thought would ask me to marry him one day,
but if nothing else, at least some Zirconium
would have been a nice gesture…

Although the element Zirconium’s
most common oxide is zirconium dioxide
(also known as zirconia), used
as a common diamond substitute,
the metallic element Zirconium is a lustrous,
grayish-white, soft, ductile and malleable element.

Different from a diamond, I suppose,
but also different from the cubic zirconia isotope.
I just have to keep remembering
that cubic zirconium is not all Zirconium is used for:
it is used for not only in nuclear applications,
but also in Space and aeronautic industries.
Zirconium is used for cladding nuclear reactor fuels,
and materials from Zirconium metal and its oxide
is even used in space vehicle parts
for their resistance to heat.
A Zirconium isotope has been recently used
in positron emission tomography (PET) cameras…
So ductile or not, maybe Zirconium
is pretty strong, and exactly at times
what I need.

Uranium poem by Janet Kuypers

Uranium

Janet Kuypers

from the “ Periodic Table of Poetry” series

The sun really is an explosive thing.
With primarily hydrogen,
reacting with helium, carbon,
nitrogen and oxygen,
we can think of hydrogen bombs
and understand why the sun
has been able to keep us so warm
at such a far distance for so long.
But because we’ve got a powerhouse
at the center of our solar system,
our sun can even support
the heavier elements,
like gold or Uranium.

With the element Uranium named
after the planet Uranus,
the only planet named
after Greek mythology
for the god of the sky,
it’s aqua blue hue matches the sky
from it’s methane atmosphere…
Fluctuating seasons
from it’s 97 degree axis tilt,
this potentially dangerous planet
matches the metal element’s
danger to us here on earth.
So yeah, it makes sense
tat we use elements
like Uranium or Hydrogen,
elements the sun feeds off of,
to cause so much destruction
so close to home.

From hydrogen bombs
to the U.S. and the U.S.S.R
and third world countries looking
for Uranium for nuclear bombs,
even to depleted Uranium
as military ammunition
in “high-density penetrators”,
we’ll still look for ways to kill each other
with the elements at our disposal.

###

Wondering why our planet
has suffered mass extinctions
every 26 billion years or so,
with upwards of five extinctions
in this planet’s history
from dinosaurs to reptiles
to 96 percent of marine life
at one mass extinction event,
scientists can only guess
that comets traveling through space
caused these mass extinctions,
but no one knows for sure.

But some scientists theorized
that if comets have have long orbits,
hundreds of years,
Than a twin star to our sun
can have one even more immense.
Imagine our sun actually having
an undetected companion star
in a highly elliptical orbit…
They’ve called this as-of-yet
undetected red dwarf “Nemesis”.
And it would be our nemesis,
with an orbit so large, it would
periodically send comets
from the Oort cloud
into the inner Solar System
say, every 26 million years.

And it’s funny to think,
that if this were true,
this “Death Star” theory,
our “Nemesis”, this red dwarf star,
would travel through space,
but still be so undetectable to us,
because it’s wouldn’t even have the energy
to hold on to those heavy elements
like Uranium.
And even if this “Nemesis”
was a brown dwarf star,
it would then even be too low in mass
to even sustain hydrogen fusion.
But still, with just the right orbit,
it could send smaller
comet soldiers our way,
to let the little infantrymen
help do us in.

So, as I said before,
we’ll keep pointing our telescopes
to the night sky,
trying to keep ourselves safe
beyond our global borders,
while we use these same elements
like Uranium,
so we can threaten each other
out of existence,
in our little skirmishes
right here on earth.

Chromium poem by Janet Kuypers

Chromium

Janet Kuypers

from the “ Periodic Table of Poetry” series

Closing the door
to my stainless steel refrigerator,
I thought about the popularity
of stainless steel;
everyone wants to get
stainless steel fronts
for all of their kitchen appliances.
Costs more at the store,
but that’s the price for looking good.

So I thought, stainless steel,
okay, what is that, iron?
But my wrought iron bed frame
and sets of candle holders
are pretty much black,
some of it’s rusting,
so what do they do
to make this iron a shiny,
different kind of metal?

I looked online
and the answer
was 24.
Not 42, not the meaning of life,
but the atomic number.

You know, when I turned 24 at work,
our rep from our press called me,
and I told him it was my birthday.
So he asked me how old I was,
and I said 42.
He sounded surprised, so I told him,
“Oh, you didn’t ask me
how old I felt.
I’m 24.”

But really, chromium
is atomic element number 24,
and to make stainless steel
they add over ten percent
of chromium to the iron to form
a steel alloy that doesn’t corrode.
(Good thing
my refrigerator
won’t rust…)

So maybe it’s the
magnetic properties of chromium
that make this metal so appealing
to people now…
But this protective element
has protected weaponry
from Chinese dynasties
thousands of years ago,
so the Chinese knew,
even then,
that coating things with
this magnetic metallic element
would stop corrosion.

I mean, we’ve all heard
of things that are
chrome plated, right?
Chromium not only makes things
last longer, but
chromium is also known for
its luster when polished —
which really makes
for a great sell.
Just go to any hangout
for motorcyclists,
probably on any summer
Sunday morning,
and see the parked line-up
of one motorcycle after another,
each outdoing each other
with decorative chrome plating…

But then I thought…
Chromium’s even used
as chrome yellow dye
for school buses…
Chromium salts are used
for wood preservatives
and tanning leather…
The refractory applications
of chromium even work
for blast furnaces, cement kilns,
molds for the firing of bricks
and also for the casting of metals.

I guess chromium can really
extend the life
of what we see around us…
So I guess it’s fitting
that when my birthday
coincided with this element,
I jokingly said
that the number in question
was actually the answer
to life, the universe,
and everything…

Aluminum poem by Janet Kuypers

Aluminum

Janet Kuypers

from the “ Periodic Table of Poetry” series

On our wedding anniversary,
I try to remember
annual anniversary gifts:
we’ve passed wood, copper, iron,
and are just passing tin, steel,
and aluminum now.
What on Earth do I buy
for a gift that’s aluminum?
I don’t think he wants
an aluminum briefcase.
Aluminum picture frame
magnets won’t work
on our stainless steel fridge.
Brushed aluminum wall tiles
over our kitchen sink
might be a good idea,
but that’s hardly
an anniversary gift…
The beaten square
aluminum cufflinks
look pretty good,
but I think the only time
he wore cufflinks
was on our wedding day.
So really, aluminum?
Oh, I suppose
the pliability of aluminum
shows how our marriage
needs to be flexible
and durable, and like
aluminum, which can be bent
without being broken,
we have to learn to bend
to each other’s wills
so that we can be
stronger when we’re together.
And we are.

With the low density
of aluminum, it is
the third most abundant
element here on Earth.
But the things is,
the aluminum metal
is too reactive chemically
to occur natively on Earth,
so it’s usually found
combined in ways with
over two hundred seventy
different minerals.

So, we see aluminum
because it mixes well
with others.
Good thing it’s pliable,
ductile, malleable.
Better thing it’s durable,
to withstand
the test of time.

And the thing is,
I’ve studied these elements
to see how they are needed
in the human body,
and despite aluminum’s
abundance on Earth,
it actually has no known
function in biology.
It’s remarkably nontoxic,
but because in the body
it competes with calcium
for absorption, it might
even lead to Osteoporosis…
Okay, I won’t eat this element,
I won’t use it in cookware.
Good thing I don’t need
antacids (which may
contain aluminum),
and although
I’ve never seen aluminum
in antiperspirants,
some researchers
have postulated
that using antiperspirants
with aluminum
may increase the risk
or breast cancer,
or potentially
Alzheimer’s disease.

(Great news
for the woman
with breast cancer
in her family history.
Great news
for the woman
with a previous
brain injury, so I
should watch for
Alzheimer’s disease.
Now I have more reasons
to worry about ingesting
the “nontoxic” aluminum.)

It’s funny, aluminum
was first used
in car engineering
and architecture
(those must have been
strong cars and buildings—
wait, they were “durable”,
but also, I’m afraid,
“flexible”, for
cars and buildings),
but then aluminum was used
in jewelry and fashion.
Kind of like
those cufflinks,
I suppose.
Hmmm.
In the meantime,
I’m going to
grab some leftovers
from the fridge,
get it out of the
aluminum foil
and eat before pondering
what his anniversary
present should be.

Mercury poem by Janet Kuypers

Mercury

Janet Kuypers

from the “ Periodic Table of Poetry” series

Loving astronomy,
I’ve always looked for images
from outer space.
My computer desktop background
and screen saver images
are NASA and Hubble telescope images.
Near my desk I keep a poster
of the planets,
and I’ve tried to find miniature globes
all all of the planets
for my living room.
Saturn. Jupiter, and four of it’s moons.
Mars. Our moon.
Too many globes of Earth.
The weather patterns of Venus.
Even a W-map of the universe
just after the Big Bang.
But planets like Neptune,
the farthest from the sun,
and Mercury,
the closest to the sun,
(speeding at over one and a half times
the speed of Earth’s orbit),
those globes are hard to find.

Mercury’s eccentric orbital speed
changes throughout it’s fast orbit,
with the fitting, fast-moving name
of the Roman messenger god.
They equated the planet with the Greek Hermes,
because it moves across the sky
faster than any other planet.
Mercury’s astronomical symbol
as a stylized version of Hermes’ caduceus.
The symbol for the planet Mercury
is even used to represent the element…

We can’t land anything on Mercury
because of it’s hostile environment,
like the volatility of the liquid element
(the only liquid element considered a mineral).
People shy away from using Mercury
in thermometers any longer
because the toxic mercury can leak.

Historically they tried to use mercury
for mirrors (they use silver now),
and ancient cultures used cosmetics
containing the poisonous mercury
that often disfigured women’s faces.
Ah, the ways women hurt themselves
to make themselves beautiful —
you can still find mercury
(you know, because it stays liquid)
in eyelash mascara.

Putting a toxic element so close to your eyes,
that sounds like a good idea…

Then again, someone just told me
that doctors used to give mercury
antibiotic eye drops to babies
just after birth,
to prevent eye infections
from Gonorrhea / Chlamydia bacteria.

Ah, the many ways
we can use toxins
to supposedly help us.

We want to learn about the planet Mercury?
We send unmanned ships through space
to photograph Mercury as much as we can,
remotely check the atmosphere levels,
the temperature, the speed.
We use mercury in our make-up,
mercury is used in dental amalgams.
Mercury has also been used
in traditional Chinese medicine,
and we used mercury in thermometers
to regulate our temperature,
and used it in blood pressure devices.

Because, we want to learn,
and we want to do anything,
to use anything to our own ends,
no matter how toxic.