Poetry by Jeff Green


The periodic table of poetry (Up to Selenium now)

by cricketjeff on August 18, 2010.  © Jeff Green, All rights reserved

First Hydrogen the lightest gas
That makes up for its lack of mass
By forming most of all we see
In this or any galaxy
In chemistry it isn’t placid
Its cation does the work of acid
In bombs it leads to greater slaughter
But most important it’s in water!

Then Helium at number two
Finds very little it can do
Inert in almost every way
So I have little else to say

Now Lithium that’s soft and bright
Makes alloys that are very light
Its salts can make your fireworks red
There’s not much else needs to be said

Beryllium has such toxic dust
That special measures are a must
It used to be used quite a lot
In copper alloys that got hot
But now we know it makes you ill
Few industries will use it still

Boron’s always black and hard
And stuff you shouldn’t disregard
In borax it will wash your eyes
In fibres it’s a great surprise
A golf club or a lightweight tank
May have this element to thank

Carbon, of course, is here for life
And diamonds make the sharpest knife
In pencils people call it lead
Which shows they must be off their head
It forms long chains, all on its own
And complex shapes that can be shown

Nitrogen’s next, it’s bland and clear
And forms most of our atmosphere
Ammonia, and stuff for bombs
And fertilizer for your toms
All need this elemental stuff
I’m pleased to say we have enough

There’s oxygen at number eight
We like it in its gaseous state
Although it lets our buildings burn
We need it as we quickly learn
The third most common stuff there is
It gives much chemistry its fizz

Fluorine is very bad for you
It changes skin to useless goo
In non-stick teflon it’s the part
That mean adhesion cannot start
Alone reacts with anything
Perhaps the elemental king

Neon gives an eerie glow
To signs as all of you will know
So noble in it’s chemistry
There are no compounds you can see

Sodium burns with yellow flame
Ignites in water what a game
You can be sure it’s never damp
Inside that eerie yellow lamp
With chlorine it makes salt for chips
And’s softer than your fingertips

Magnesium flashes into light
Few other flames are half as bright
In alloys used in cars and planes
It leads to unexpected gains
Plants put it into chlorophyll
Without it you’d be very ill!

Aluminium it’s called
(Americans will be appalled)
It’s strong and light and forms a skin
That stops corrosives getting in
Like all the rest it’s made in stars
We use it in our planes and cars

A tetravalent metalloid
It seems nobody can avoid
The modern world needs Silicon
With clever patterns etched upon
Although these chips seem quite enough
It gives us glass and other stuff

Now phosphorus which has a glow
Gives every safety match its go
It’s used for flares and screening smoke
Its acid give the fizz to coke
Since it is in all life on Earth
You know quite what the stuff is worth

Now sulphur compounds often smell
As brimstone it’s a sign of hell
A pretty yellow on its own
More allotropes than any known
In life it takes a major role
Makes dirty smoke when burning coal

Next chlorine gas that’s murky green
Its use on troops was very mean
It kills the bugs in swimming pools
It’s found in many molecules
In paint stripper and cleaning stuff
That man has used more than enough

The argon verse is hard for me
It has so little chemistry
But we may sometimes use this fact
As filler so things won’t react

Potassium has symbol K
An element that likes to play
A soft and silvery metal which
Reacts upon the slightest twitch
It even burns in nitrogen
Which can confuse unlearned men
We need a fair bit to survive
It’s part of everything alive.

If you have written things with chalk
Or if you like to stand and walk
Then calcium is in your life
Its all around and use is rife
A carbonate is called limestone
Its phosphate makes up most of bone
It furs your kettle, and your pipes
So fuels a lot of plumbers gripes

Transition metals form a block
Whose properties we’ll now unlock
First scandium is rather rare
Has just one use that I’m aware
In aluminium alloys
The aircraft industry employs

Its strength for weight the highest known
Will be in many things you own
Titanium is common stuff
But most rocks don’t contain enough
It’s oxide is the white in paint
So many uses that you best
Go look it up, I’ll be impressed

Vanadium’s another one
I hope you find this journey fun
It’s used in steels for tools and such
There’s some in you, but not too much

You all know Chromium by shine
So plated parts can look quite fine
Its compounds come in every hue
Perhaps we’ve time to list a few
The very orange dichromate
Can change its oxidation state
And then a deep and dirty green
Will be the colour you have seen
Makes rubies red and mauves untamed
You’ll see how chromium was named

So now give Manganese a turn
A metal that we cannot spurn
Essential to the life we live
With many other gifts to give
You need it to make stainless steel
It can give glass a “rose appeal”
Some feminists may whisper “please
Can we now have Womanganese?”

It’s Iron next which had an age
That set us on this modern stage
A revolution came to be
In Britain’s iron industry
Producing steel that changed the world
And empire banners soon unfurled
You can’t make tanks or guns or planes
Without this metal’s famous strains
It’s also part of me and you
(Anaemia should give a clue)
The final fuel of dying stars
It gives the rusty hue to Mars
Of all that’s underneath the sky
It has the stablest nuclei!

Who hasn’t heard of Cobalt blue
Perhaps it’s nature’s finest hue
Prosthetic hips or so I’m told
Need cobalt or they can’t be sold
Magnetic metals and in planes
(In super alloy turbine vanes)
We need it too for vitamins
Without B12 nobody wins!

A metal with so many uses
Doesn’t need to make excuses
We put it into coins and steels
In forks and spoons and alloy wheels
A catalyst for many things
And helps to toughen wedding rings
So buy some Nickel mining shares
We need it for so many wares

Ten thousand years ago, or so
A copper pendant went on show
Though meteroic iron and gold
Are many dozen times as old
We think that copper was refined
Before most other things were mined
It’s soft and yellow when it’s pure
But Zinc or Tin effect a cure
And Bronze age people found this out
It gave their weapons added clout.
A great conductor (not of bands)
It’s useful in so many hands.

I wonder if you ever think
About the ways that we use zinc
In galvanising iron and steel
In sheets on roofs (that bad guys steel)
Deodorants and fancy paints
And statues of some famous saints
It protects iron exposed to seas
A lot is used in batteries

Pure Gallium just loves to melt
The strangest metal ever felt
A first as hard as any plate
Then suddenly in liquid state
Its arsenide makes diodes glow
Its nitride puts bright blue on show
Thermometers with lots of range
Makes other metals turn quite strange

Germanium is not a flower
Its used to capture solar power
Transistors, diodes lots of stuff
Fibre optics all that guff
These days it isn’t used as much
Replaced by silicon and such

If you have read detective tales
You’ll know that Arsenic derails
The lives of victims by the score
Of poisoners we should deplore
Napoleon, some think, was killed
By poison his wallpaper spilled
The ink contained some “Paris Green”
(Perhaps he just missed Josephine)
Computer makers use a lot
And strangely some is in lead shot.

Selenium can make things stink
It’s more important than you think
We have to eat a little bit
To keep out bodies fighting fit
Replacing lead in plumbers brass
And making reddish tones in glass

Author notes

This is very much a work in progress, I’d like to get it published after it is eventually finished.

Out of order stanzas here until I get to them

A noble gas called krypton’s next
Which gets some chemists rather vexed
Its compounds are so very few
That they can’t find a lot to do
Makes discharge lamps glow almost white
So you see them a lot at night

On almost every time it’s seen
Praseodymium makes green
But being such a curious fellow
It’s used to make ceramics yellow!

For MRIs your blood may be infused
And Gadolinium is often used
It’s also found in radiation shields
Reduction harmful thermal neutron yields

With Copernicium I’ll end
The rest are up to you my friend!