Sonnet: “Last Will and Testament”

I, Robin, being of sound mind, declare
the Cryonics Institute shall have my corpse.
That’s where I’ll rest, if I can get shipped there,
no matter how friends stare, family gawps.
“I”, “corpse” and “rest” are contradictory, true,
because we’re into science frontier realms
where problem-solving causes problems anew,
where human thought both helps and overwhelms.
Limitless lifespan, or apocalypse?
Both feasible as we reach out through space.
Cryonics is a ticket for both trips…
or none at all, if humans lose our race.
Enjoy this puzzle-path, solve it and thrive.
Drive to arrive alive. Strive to survive.

Another of my existential sonnets, this one just published in Star*Line, the quarterly publication of SFPA, the Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association, now in its 43rd year. Star*Line is one of those tolerant poetry magazines which will publish anything that appeals to editor Vince Gotera, from formal verse to experimental poetry–so long as it deals with space ships or time travel, dragons or golems and so on, of course.

Technically this is a Shakespearean sonnet, i.e. it’s in iambic pentameter and rhymes ABAB CDCD EFEF GG. Each of the 4-line blocks is a complete thought, describing the existential situation being faced. There is a volta or turn (but it’s weak) before the final couplet which moves from description to prescription: the couplet is a call to action.

By the way, I am changing the poem’s title with this blog post–it appears in Star*Line with the first line as the title.

9 thoughts on “Sonnet: “Last Will and Testament”

  1. Martin Elster

    Hi Robin,

    This is a very well-crafted poem, which I enjoyed very much. It got me thinking …

    Some animals — like wood frogs and woolly bear caterpillars — have the ability to “freeze” when the weather turns into winter. But most of their cells don’t actually, literally freeze, because their bodies produce a type of natural antifreeze. Humans don’t have this ability (yet).

    Cold tolerance

    Similar to other northern frogs that enter dormancy close to the surface in soil and/or leaf litter, wood frogs can tolerate the freezing of their blood and other tissues.[12][13] Urea is accumulated in tissues in preparation for overwintering, and liver glycogen is converted in large quantities to glucose in response to internal ice formation. Both urea and glucose act as cryoprotectants to limit the amount of ice that forms and to reduce osmotic shrinkage of cells.[14][15]
    Frogs can survive many freeze/thaw events during winter if no more than about 65% of the total body water freezes. Wood frogs have a series of seven amino acid substitutions in the sarco/endoplasmic reticulum Ca2+-ATPase 1 (SERCA 1) enzyme ATP binding site that allows this pump to function at lower temperatures relative to less cold-tolerant species (e.g. Lithobates clamitans).[16]

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wood_frog#Cold_tolerance

    I wonder if it would someday be possible to give humans this ability. Without, however, I don’t think it would be possible to bring a frozen body back to life, due to the fact that freezing destroys the body’s cells. But I haven’t read enough about cryogenics to say that we don’t yet have the technique to keep our cells from freezing.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  2. Martin Elster

    Yes, Robin, I think you are right about that. It’s definitely better to have even a slight chance of being brought back to life than no chance at all. Speaking of tardigrades, I wrote a poem about them, which appears in my new book, “Celestial Euphony” (available on Amazon). I shall email you the poem. You may enjoy it.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
      1. Martin Elster

        Hi Robin. I’m glad you enjoyed my tardigrade poem!
        You asked for a link to my book, so here it is. Thanks for being interested.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Martin Elster

        The above link seems to have gone to the “look inside the book” thing. I hope this will work better:

        Like

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