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With my boots on.

Written by David K. Gilchrist.

In a note on the poem the author says this poem is To Harry Boothman,

who died at work, doing what he loved as supervisor of Calgary’s beautiful parks.

With my boots on

O spare me years of agonizing uselessness --

Of invalid dependence on my kin;

Of institutions where sad senile minds digress,

And feeble folk grow blind and deaf and thin.

O spare me hours - or days - or weeks - or months - or years

Confined to some bleak psychiatric ward;

Or worse - where tortured bodies linger on with fears

That all their pleas for death will be ignored.

O spare me decades when each relative and friend

Protects me from a meeting with my fate:

Denies each active pleasure that might haste my end,

And forces me to simply wait and wait.

For folk may breathe their last while fishing from a boat,

Or going for a skate, a swim, a hike,

Or working at a trade, or going out to vote,

Or trying out new hobbies one might like.

The fool will cry: “He should have spared himself. How sad!”

How SAD? Why should a man spend endless useless days,

A burden to himself, that others may be glad

When death at last shall take him, as he prays.

(Verse added years later)

And if a woman wants to while away the wait

Until her time allotted on this earth is done,

In doing things that will excited her and elate,

Why should she not enjoy her friends and fun?

David K. Gilchrist ca mid 1970's



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Image credit: Boots, by Ronald Alfred Edwards (1916–1975), Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art,


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