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I could have saved a life today

In a recent comment to one of our Death Wish reports a reader mentioned a poem, ‘I could have saved a life today’.

We discovered that it has been widely published and that there are several sligthly differerent versions, although we at Vertikal have never heard it. Having read it we thought it was quite poignant and have decided to publish it here:

I could have saved a life today
but chose to look the other way.

It wasn’t that I didn’t care.
I had the time, and I was there
but I didn’t want to seem a fool
and argue over safety rules.

I knew he’d done the job before.
if I called it wrong, he might get sore.
The chances didn’t seem that bad.
(I’ve done the same. He knew I had.)

So I shook my head and walked on by.
He knew the risks as well as I.
He took the chance, I closed my eye
and with that act I let him die.

I could have saved a life that day
but chose to look the other way.

Now every time I see his wife
I know I should have saved his life.
I see his kids and feel so sad.
They cry at night. They’ve lost their Dad.

That guilt is something I must bear
but isn’t something you need share.
If you see a risk that others take,
that puts their health or life at stake ..

… The question asked, or things you say
could help them live another day.
If YOU see a risk and walk away,
then hope YOU never have to say

I could have saved a life today
but chose to look the other way.

We have not yet tracked down the author of the original, so if you do know we would like to attribute it. UPDATE:
We now know that the author is Don Merrell of Simplot in Pocatello, Idaho. We understand that he has other poems that address safety issues which we will follow up with.


The author is an American called Don Merrell

Nov 13, 2022