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there's no crying in chemistry

by niteowl

sweep up your failure with the shattered beaker
--dispose of it in the red bucket before anyone sees.

take your tears and pour them into a hazardous waste container
before they burn like sulfuric acid.

dry your eyes with kimwipes
and get back to work.
make your emotions disappear
like salt into deionized water.

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3746 Reviews

Points: 2212
Reviews: 3746

Wed Aug 17, 2016 2:07 am
Snoink wrote a review...

Hi niteowl!

I think you're missing out an opportunity to describe how uncomfortable you would be if you were crying while wearing safety goggles. At least in the labs that I worked on, we were constantly goggled up and I'm pretty certain that the lenses would all fog up.

Another thing I don't quite like is that the sulfuric acid and salt into deionizing water don't really jive that well together... like, what experiment is this that uses salty water and sulfuric acid? I think this poem would be a lot cooler if you took an actual experiment and used that to become a better metaphor. I'm sure you can do this!

niteowl says...

Haha we never actually wore goggles in the lab I worked in in grad school (we...were not the most safety conscious haha). But yeah, in my undergrad class I would constantly have to go outside for "goggle breaks" so I could de-fog my glasses (even when not crying).

While this wasn't describing an actual experiment, I know for a fact that the reagent for phosphate testing uses sulfuric acid and the standards are made with potassium phosphate (which is a salt). So there! :P

Thanks for reviewing! :)

niteowl says...

Also, for privacy reasons, I'd rather not use the details of my actual research in a poem.

Snoink says...

Oh, I get the actual research thing. :)

Maybe you can weave the phosphate testing more? That way, it'll seem like it's more complete or whatever... like more of a story that you can attach metaphors to that'll make the poem heavier in meaning.

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86 Reviews

Points: 10071
Reviews: 86

Mon Aug 15, 2016 4:10 pm
reikann wrote a review...

In my opinion, this poem weaves together the chemistry motif with emotion to good effect.
I really appreciate how almost every line here is making use of both themes and contributing to the overall narrative.
My favorite verse here is verse 2. If I were to guess, I would say that it is because the conflation of tears and sulfuric acid comes off as stronger due to them both being liquid. This has the neat side effect of allowing the verb 'pour' to fit in both contexts.
Despite the imagery and all that neatly done such, the strongest message I get out of this the impression of the narrator's character. The narrator comes across as the scientific, academic type, trying to avoid emotion by retreating into what makes sense for them.
This is more of a philosophic quibble than a chemical or literary one, but on salt and deionized water - the salt doesn't really 'disappear', it just looks like it does. And perhaps that's the point of the turn of phrase here, as well - the feelings don't really disappear either, they're just shoved into the red bucket where we all know not to touch.
Overall, I like this poem for the seamless way the chemistry motif is used to handle toxic-feelings emotions.

On a completely unrelated note, congratulations on reaching 1000 reviews! That's quite the achievement.

niteowl says...

Thanks for reviewing! Yeah, perhaps "dissolve" would be a better word than "disappear" there. I'll have to think about it.

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182 Reviews

Points: 8363
Reviews: 182

Mon Aug 15, 2016 4:28 am
shiney1 says...

As someone who just completed a course in Chemistry 2 this summer, I can relate completely. Very nice piece.

niteowl says...

Thanks! :)

Love is friendship that has caught fire. It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses.
— Ann Landers