The Poet’s Boots


Want a boots poem?  Generally,  I don’t post recently written poems on this website, since publishing them myself makes then ineligible for any other outlet looking for unpublished poems: poetry is what I do for a living, so I figure I shouldn’t be giving too much of it away for free.

However, a few months ago I was contacted by Veerle Swenters of the Shoes or No Shoes Project in Belgium asking for a poetic contribution, and this week, I finally got round to writing it.  Since Veerle intends to publish it on the Shoes or No Shoes website, I have no qualms about publishing it here also.

Shoes or No Shoes is an extraordinary purpose built shoe museum in West Flanders (and an architectural marvel in itself). They house 1200 pairs of shoes donated by contemporary artists, 2700 pairs of shoes from around the world, and goodness knows how many pairs of designer shoes too. They also collect cartoons and texts about shoes.

When I told my husband about their request he said these were the boots I should write about.   They have been repeatedly re-soled and re-heeled and now have structural damage beyond any cobbler’s skill, but still I can’t quite bring myself to throw them out.  Indeed, I still occasionally give in to the temptation to wear them. He was hoping they would want me to ship the boots off to Belgium with the poem, because that seemed the only way I was ever going to part with them. But the museum  has limited room for any further shoes, and frankly doesn’t need a skanky pair of boots from yours truly; they just wanted the poem.   So the purple holey things are still with me, and now commemorated to boot.   Sorry. Here is the poem.

The Poet’s Boots

The poet’s boots are purple, trimmed
with self-regard. Italian born
and bought on a flush-as-feathers whim
for comfort and look. A decade worn
tirelessly tramping city streets,
they slip on, naturally as sin:
two leather poems for the feet
on a body that aches for extra skins.
Though they’re past saving, she is too
in love with the past to part with them;
is unpersuaded by the new.
She will not know their like again.
Their leather splits in tiny grins,
the better to let the weather in.


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