I so much wanted to die, but
I was supposed to do well at college
not like the others in High School
who were restless rogues and plumbers, and
I had adequate grades for admission

Seemed like it should be a miracle
that if I’d be a scholar, some girl
would like me and college
could be sublime, but

when there was no one
I could not study
and I so much wanted to die

I crammed for a physics exam
staying awake for 48 hours or
maybe more. I don’t know
because there were micro dreams
that lasted a second, and
I don’t know how many
seconds there are to success

but anyway, I flunked
out of college and
the draft board was
looking for me
as cannon fodder

and I thought
maybe death was best.

— Douglas Gilbert


8 thoughts on “Dignity

  1. This is sad, I have to say that no…death was not best, and I’m so glad you didn’t go through with anything horrible like that. I had to quit school because I was so sick and couldn’t make my classes…so I suppose I flunked out of college too. But I didn’t want to die because of failing – I was afraid I really was dying and school didn’t seem so important to me then. When you say the draft board, is that the admission people who handle scholarships and things of that nature. Well if I had went to college with you I would’ve liked you and helped you study if you wanted me to…I’m sorry things didn’t turn out as you had hoped or planned. I still think you’re one of the most brilliant people ever, even if you don’t have a piece of paper from a school that says so.

    1. No, the draft board were the ones who could command you to be in the army against your will and no matter what. If they chose you, you had to serve in the army. That was the law. I went for a physical exam once at my draft board. I kept applying for a college exemption and then when they had a lottery I dropped my college exemption and hoped for the best. They took every birthday from 1 to 365 and mixed and tossed it into a hat and chose which people of which birthday they would draft into the Vietnam War. I was 288 of 365, but so many in my district had college diferments that it came very close to me being drafted into the army. I guess I should have been blown up and died. But my number was not called.

    2. That’s why there was so much pressure that I had to stay in school and since my mother didn’t want me to be drafted into the war in Vietnam, I had to take courses over the summer at another college who would except me on condition that I did well in their summer courses. I could do well or die. I took two psychology courses and two sociology courses and got A’s in them and was accepted into the college for the fall and avoided being drafted into the army. Maybe it would have been better if I had been killed in the Vietnam war as a hero, though I doubt that — maybe just an ordinary dead person.

    3. yeah, maybe, that would have been best, that I had been drafted, gone to war in Vietnam and had been killed honorably.. Because now, any time I would die there’d be no honor at all.

    4. I forgot how bad that was for making snobs. As long as you stayed in College, you didn’t get drafted. Those who didn’t go to college were drafted into the army right away and so many of the “elite” looked down on them. Very decent and wonderful people died in that war, but kids in my high school had such contempt for anyone who did not go to college and I remember I turned 18 soon after I started college and they had a special office at the college where they helped you register for the draft and the guy, I remember, was so damn serious and stern — you MUST register or they’ll come get you. I still have my draft card which says, always carry this card with you. I only used it to buy liquor because it showed I was 18 which was the legal age at the time (I don’t know anymore, but I think they changed it to 21). My draft card looks phony because I spilled beer on it once and the signature looks like it was erased and changed, but the color of the ink is just altered from the beer.

      1. Oh, i see…I just didn’t understand the reference. I suppose I’m lucky to be a girl because I’ve never had to register for a draft but I remember a guy I used to date had to register. He said everyone had to register but that they weren’t actually drafting at that time. I’m so tired of wars and fighting. I wish our world could learn to live in peace. But unfortunately it doesn’t look like that is ever going to happen. There are too many evil crazy individuals.
        Well, I for one, am glad you didn’t go off to war and die because i would’ve never had the chance to read your poetry. If I had an award of honor to give I would give it to you because I think you’ve helped to save me on many occasions through the years when I was so sad. For anyone who questions the worth of your honor, send them in my direction because you are my hero…I know i’m not worth much to everyone but I like to think I’m worth a lot to some.

    5. Thanks. I think you saved me too with your encouragement and compliments. I think I would have stopped altogether. Those people on those other boards were ridiculous and I would have given up writing anything.

      1. I remember that, the people on those boards were ridiculous…making up all sorts of their own rules as to what you were allowed to post or how you were allowed to reply to a post. Thank you, really though, I am glad to have helped, I’ve meant every compliment I’ve ever given to you and I’m glad you didn’t give up writing because you really do have a great talent for it.

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