Cesium, “Periodic Table of Poetry” poem by Chicago poet Janet Kuypers


Janet Kuypers

from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series (#055, Cs)

Is this the best of times?
Is this the worst of times?
Or is this just
             one of those times?

Only humans understand time —
where did all the time go?
Do we even know?
Time slips away
as we look for ways
to keep time every day
right down to the nanosecond.

Because without my Cesium,
I couldn’t be so obsessed
with being on time
for absolutely everything…

Without Cesium clocks,
everyone would be forced
to be their clueless selves
when it comes to their time
in this global village…

We can thank Cesium-133
for producing identical radiation
at exactly the same frequency,
which makes Cesium perfect
for the Cesium atomic clock
that monitors time globally
in such perfect detail.

Perfect for my obsession with time.

But I have to remember
that with Cesium or without,
time is only a human construct…
I’ll need to check my watch,
and remind myself of this
at times like these.

Scandium, poem by Janet Kuypers


Janet Kuypers

from the “ Periodic Table of Poetry” series — #021, Sc

You have been so rare to me.
I’ve wanted to know you,
I’ve wanted to see you,
but you’re more common in the sun
than you are right here,
and the only way you’re made
is in the explosion of supernovae.

The scant amounts of you
the entire world knew
were once used in Russia,
prepping for cold war battle.

And you may be strong,
you may give us strength,
but your more violent strengths
come from your creation,
in a burst of radiation
that outshines the galaxy.

I know you’re more common in our sun,
but the energy in a supernova’s explosion
equals all of the energy our sun ever releases.

That’s where you come from.
And that’s why I’m drawn to you.
That’s why I want to know you.
Besides, even though we beat the USSR,
we’ll hedge our bets
to understand you
for any strengths we can get.