Poems from Fundamentals of Applied Chemistry

Ideas for a Manual for Synthesis, Analysis, and Purification

I Need a Guide to Ensure the Reliability of Subsequent Experiments

*******Poetic creation.

*******Poetic ideas, poetic words.

*******Various images, novel metaphors, unexpected antithesis, precise irony.

Material Safety Data Sheet:
*******When using free verse, avoid the excessive use of rhyme.

Treatment of remainders:
*******Optimize poetic synthesis so that the waste is empty of all meaning.


To synthesize a product, experimentation is key. Continuing the search for literature, the planning of innovative structures, the selection of raw ideas, the precise calculation of all clichés, the vertigo of the blank line, doesn’t make poetry.

Upon obtaining a product after months of reflux, agitation, and mixing, one suspects impurities and imprecisions.

The key to the poem is in the analysis, in the subsequent purification:
crystalize the structure,
distill the tension,
purify the images,
enumerate the syllables,
extract all sentimentality,
question the punctuation,
disseminate the implied ideas,
trash the rhymes,
macerate the tone,
seek a voice,
dilute the I,
dissolve and crystallize again.

Once rhythm, meter, and symbolism are lost, leave the product be and let it settle.

If, while you wait, you need inspiration, it is advisable to return to the literature in search of analytical techniques to optimize the wild and urgent core of the experiment.

The watery poem, ionic and soluble, which flows although it is electrically charged, can be treated with conductometry. A change in voltage is best for reinforcing the images, widening the meaning, and adjusting the tension.

For poetic prose, solid as a brick, an X-ray analysis is recommended, which reveals the hidden structure between the lack of verse and meter.

For tackling major themes, elemental poems, brief and simple, are recommended, which can be prescribed for those in need of peace.

Coordinated and colorful poems, in which dislocated verses and word play abound, need infrared and ultraviolet light to analyze the energy of every emotion.

Quantum language suffers from dualism, it can’t decide if it’s prosaic or poetic, and the probability of finding any meaning is dependent upon the observer.

With volatile and unstable poems, it’s necessary to procure a brief analysis; there’s always the risk of ideas escaping from the stanza that should have been eliminated.

Alloyed poems are full of implicit references, phase poems hang upon progression, and biological poems are separate ecosystems, which allude to the corporeal, the natural, and the physical.

For narrative poems, one must implement either a kinetic analysis, which studies the poetic speed and considers each step and each line, or a thermodynamic analysis, which disregards the process and focuses only on the beginning and the end.

If it doesn’t help to identify the species of the poem, or implement spectroscopic techniques, nor revise the literature, it is recommended to resume experimentation, change the meter, switch to prose, pray to the muse of the turn of the screw, the key word and the precise meaning.

If all else fails, consider quantum modeling or, as a last resort, save the experiment for another life, rethink the usage of the poetic method, start anew with an unused idea and newly unpacked words.

Will Newton’s Laws Help Me Return to Classical Physics?

First Law

You say:
remember Newton,
we just need an impulse
to leave our resting state.

Second Law 

You say:
if our mass remains constant,
the net force between us
would be proportional to our acceleration.

Third Law

You say:
let’s be movement,
impulses with equal magnitude
in opposite directions.
Action and reaction.

The Phase Equilibrium of a Binary System Gives Me a New Perspective

You and I were a binary system
that had reached equilibrium.

But at some point, I forgot
the fundamental problem
of the most basic thermodynamics:
it only works in ideality.

Upon changing the experimental conditions,
our phase diagram stopped working.

We lost the triple point,
where my volatile desires,
your solid tendencies
and our liquid reality

There was nothing left but to accept
the formation of this heterogeneous mixture
and the loss of our equilibrium.

We needed to change states:

Ravings on a Regenerative Surgery

Nerve my hands again.
Begin in my fingers.
They maintain the outline
of another shadow.

Clip my eyelids together.
The specter of his breathing
appears between my eyelashes
and his silhouette weighs on my retina.

Suture my mouth.
It betrays me, invoking your name
among all my words
he appears.

Do a dissection.

With a scalpel, cut the feeling of his scent
the muscular language of closeness,
the time we shared.

Extract the vital organs
that beat when the door opens
and wait for his steps.

I Consider the Possibility of Exponential Decay

The half-life of love is forever.
─ Junot Díaz

The physical things will be easy.
They are inert objects,
left behind in my room,
and time hasn’t touched them.
I’ll only have to poke around a little
to find those that bear your mark.

It’s going to be more slippery to pack
the traces of our wordless understanding:
back then, we could walk in sync.
I’ll have to return to the streets we walked;
we left a trail I can follow
to recover our isotopes.

The many intangible memories
of the sighs we exchanged when we fought
in sad silence
are highly unstable.
Already, they have started to disintegrate.

What is the half-life of those atoms?
Would their emission already be cut in half?
What series of radicals did we leave behind?
How much longer will I feel its radioactive tingling?

Some days I believe
I’ll always feel its remainder.

I Take Refuge in Bond Theory

How were we bonded
when we still belonged to each other.
By the end, we were an ionic interaction,
in which one gave the other all their electrons.

So what theory would describe the need
to entangle ourselves at quantum level
when our fingers were superposed.

When you were close, I couldn’t resist
merging our orbitals,
reaching my arm in search
of your body’s curvature next to mine.

Those caresses are lost.

We’re left with the weakest interaction;
it appears in the static of this incomplete touch.

We’re ruled by van der Waals forces,
dipole to dipole,
where, charged as we are,
the closeness of your body induces mine,
but I can’t cope with the electrostatic component
or these changes in polarity.

After so much time in equilibrium,
I can’t understand the end of our bond.

With our molecular interaction,
my hands can’t get used to
staying on my side of the table,
while you’re in front of me.

In spite of the impossibility of an overlap
I feel the tingle of the static
when your dipole attracts mine,
when the past resounds in my fingers
and I don’t know how to answer.

I Examine the Effect of Rayleigh Scattering on the Initial State

This kind of morning
only existed in February.

Then the monoxides evaporated
to materialize in the valley:
two volcanos.

Any other day was

this color, 462 nanometers,
makes you stop,
lift your head and consider:

I’m so far from home.

Should I Apply the Uncertainty Principle?

There is a fundamental error in separating the
parts from the whole, the mistake of atomizing
what should not be atomized. Unity and
complementarity constitute reality.
─ Werner Heisenberg

When I understood the observer effect,
I accepted my limits.

I lose track of the momentum if I choose my position.

I get confused in between models:
hypothesizing about my circumstances,
considering my spatial arrangement,
calibrating my possible futures,
quantifying my feelings.

I don’t act if I overthink.

I can’t find a solution that satisfies
the dualities in my analysis,
what I wanted and what I want.

If I’m a particle,
if I’m a wave,
if I only am.


Andrea Chapela

Andrea Chapela (b. 1990, Mexico City) studied Chemistry at UNAM. Her first novel, La heredera, the first part of the tetrology Vâudïz, was published in 2008 by Spanish publishing house Ediciones Urano. The follow-ups El creador and La cuentista came out in 2009 and 2012, respectively. The final book, El cuento, was published in 2015 and presented at the Book Fair in Guadalajara. Andrea obtained a Spanish Creative Writing MFA from The University of Iowa in 2016. In August of the same year, she was awarded the Jóvenes Creadores grant by Mexico’s Fondo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes to write a sci-fi short story collection. Her short stories have been published in Iowa Literaria, Penumbria, and Hiedra Magazine.

Kelsi Vanada, with Andrea Chapela

Kelsi Vanada is from Denver, Colorado, and is an MFA candidate in Literary Translation at The University of Iowa. She holds an MFA in poetry from the Iowa Writers' Workshop (May 2016). She translates from Spanish and the Scandinavian languages, and her poems and translations have been published most recently in EuropeNow, Asymptote, New Delta Review, and Prelude. Kelsi has also published book reviews in Entropy, M-Dash, Breac, and the Exchanges blog. She was named a 2016 ALTA Travel Fellow, and her translation of Berta García Faet’s La edad de merecer will be published in 2017 by Song Bridge Press.

English translation copyright (c) Kelsi Vanada, 2017.