Boot Shopping

by Wallace McRae

It seemed to me a simple thing since my socks was showin’ through:
Turn my old boots out to pasture, and buy a pair–brand new.
Well, they built this cowboy K-Mart outa town there in the Mall,
Where I parked my Studdybaker after shippin’ drys this fall.
I found the store right easy ‘thout gettin’ tromped or gored,
And this clerk with a complexion like he’d growed up ‘neath a board
Is a-lurkin’at the boot pile an’ he asks me, “Help you, sir?”
Seems he knows that I’m a live one so I answers back, “Why sure.”
I tole him that my Hyers, that I’d had for thirty year,
Prob’ly was made faulty. And that I seen him sneer,
As he eyeballs how I’m shod. Then he dimples me a smile,
Says, “I can put you in exotics of the very latest style.”
I snorts at his “exotics,” tells him, “I’m a Hereford man,
But style sounds right ’cause, sonny, I’m an all-time ranahan.”
He starts in crackin’ critter skins outa boxes that’s absurd.
Why, one has prolapsed puckers like it come off’n a bird!
There’s lizzards, snakes and horny toads, crocodiles and eels,
Alligators, sharks; I’m feelin’ faint. I staggers and I reels.
I tells that sucker, “Whoa! Call of them varmits from yer swamp.
I ain’t about to put no foot in things I’m scairt to stomp!”

If yer gettin’ yerself reshod, well, pardner, here’s a clue,
Avoid them scaly crawlers that’ll strike ‘r bite ‘r chew.
Ask that boot clerk, “Do you carry and kangaroos or camels?
Or somethin’ in warm-blooded? I’m partial t’wards them mammals!”

(From Cowboy Curmudgeon, Gibbs M. Smith, Inc., 1992)

Wally McRae, a regularly featured performer at the annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, has performed on a syndicated television program and at the National Cowboy Hall of Fame. He is the first cowboy poet to be granted a National Heritage Award.


  • The book, Cowboy Curmudgeon, is still available from by Gibbs-Smith Publishing. This book contains 94 of McRae’s poems, including such classics as “Reincarnation,” along with 40 new poems published for the first time.

© Wallace McRae, 1992. All poems are copyright the artist and should not be reproduced without permission.