© Brenda Joy

Winner, 2012 Alan Llewellyn Award for Bush Verse, Dahlia and Arts Festival, Eaglehawk, Victoria.

This poem of a right-footed, R.M. Williams’ boot ‘Born to Survive’, ‘The Great Outdoors’, is part of an ongoing saga about ‘The Evolution of an Old Sole’.

I am an R.M. Williams’ boot and I was made to be
a workin’ boot out on the land – that is the role for me
and when they forged me out of hide they forged old Lefty too
We coupled up together just as opposites will do.

He is me mate, me matchin’ pair; he’s very much like me.
We stomp around together though at times we disagree
like when it comes to politics — he’s left and I am right
but we are kept a foot apart so very rarely fight.

Sometimes we like to horse around if taken for a ride
but ‘neath it all we’re dinkum boots of genuine raw hide
and though we’re now kept underfoot, our memories are full,
for we’ve not long descended from a little bit of bull.

It’s not our fault we stinks a bit the jobs we have to do.
Around a farmyard to be sure, I’m just a jackaroo.
We rarely get inside a house — it really hurts our pride,
some missus always yelling out, “YOU LEAVE THEM BOOTS OUTSIDE!”.

I know there’s other footwear ‘round, besides me south-paw mate.
They’re mostly workin’ boots like us with heavy-duty fate.
Except them cushy slippers always worn about inside,
their uppers are synthetic plus their soles aren’t dinkum hide.

At night they sleep by cosy fires — sometimes day-times too —
and they are left in comfort when there’s decent jobs to do.
One tip-toe round the milking shed – they’d fall apart no doubt
but ’cos I do the dirty work they’re bound to last me out.

But there’s a little fashion ‘flattie’ shoe I get to meet
whenever boss’s daughter comes and comes up close to greet
her dad with hugs and cuddles then, I get to get up near,
rub tans with her and whisper soulful nothings in her ear.

I’d like to keep in step with her and burn a bit of leather.
I feel me insoles rubberise whenever we’re together.
Her eyelets lace me up and down.  I scuff meself about,
tread toe to toe, I feel a heel — me tongue keeps hangin’ out.

We nearly had a one-night stand when left out on the mat
but I got scuttled down the steps when boss threw out the cat,
and ‘cos her pretty twin and her were only passin’ through
I missed me chance to show her what a Williams’ boot could do.

But t’other day, a rare event, the boss took shine to me,
and polished me to go to town.  I thought that I might see
me lovely fashion flattie, but we went into a church.
I couldn’t find her anywhere despite me frantic search.

In place of her were toffy femmes – high heeled and thinly strapped.
They really arched up on themselves and I weren’t gettin’ trapped
by some flip-flop stiletto come from China or Taiwan.
The way they clattered round and squeaked – they didn’t put me on.

The only working boots up town were me and me old pal.
I think me fashion flattie went off shopping in the mall.
I didn’t see her once to ask if she would be me wife.
Besides Old Mate and I were getting in all kinds ‘a strife.

Them white and loud-tongued, sporty joggers, fresh from U.S.A.,
they flash their neon brands at you — they’re pumped up tight that way.
The speed they always dash around, I think they’ve got the trots.

It might be tough out on the farm but on a city street
there’s far too many foot loose thongs – they make a bloke compete
to get a space to call me own and it’s not very clean.
Me Boss explored a patch of grass where some big dog had been.

I’m not cut out for city life — I am a country boot
so even though I find me fashion flattie oh so cute
our destinies are far apart, no matter how I curse.
I’m stuck with me left-footed mate for better or for worse.

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