Category Archives: Art & Culture

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.

Without a Full Deck (for Jennifer June)

by James V. Miller

Forty straight deals and I’d lost every hand,
And my hat, and my home, and a small piece of land,
My paycheck and pick-up had taken two routes,
When in walked the girl with the old snakeskin boots.

“Hard night you been havin?”, her silver eyes shined,
“Not too hard to lose, they’ve been cheatin me blind”,
My pockets were empty, not a dime to be found,
As I got up to leave, she bought the next round.

Her ante was in and she picked up her card,
And breathed in my ear, “Winning’s not all that hard”,
“It’s as hard as ya make it, my dad said to me”,
“Instead of four suits, I just play with three.”

She tossed out the diamonds and threw down a grand,
Didn’t look at the cards, and still won the next hand,
And the next, and the next, and the chips piled high,
“You’re just so damned lucky”, I said with a sigh.

“I’m so lucky at cards, but unlucky at this,”
She folded her hand and gave me a kiss,
Then the last drink was called, and the last hand was dealed,
And what happened next, well my lips are sealed.

Next day she left town with a smile on her face,
A bounce in her step, and her soul full of grace,
She gave me some presents, the keys to my truck,
The deed to my trailer, and a new sense of luck.

You cynical types, I know what you’ll say,
But I’ll honor her love to my last lovin’ day,
I continue to lose when I play with three suits,
But my hearts always go to the girl with the boots.

James V. Miller is popular Bay Area writer and poet. I want to thank him, because wrote this poem especially for me and this web page. Sometimes I tease James, tellin’ him he oughta get himself some boots made, with inlayed hearts up top…to match the one he’s got there on his sleeve.

© James V. Miller, 1998. All poems are copyright the artist and should not be reproduced without permission.