His Boots

Last week, I found an old folder in a draw, covered in dust: old bits of writing, half-finished stories, poems, ghosts of ideas from years ago. Most of them were dire, some I will re-structure and mend, develop, others I’ll share with the bin.

I recently lost my grandfather, which is possibly why I’m looking back, reflecting a lot. I found this poem amongst the papers and it made me think of him. It still needs a lot of work and parts of it are sentimental and clichéd, but it’s old and I’m not a professional. Just thought I’d share.

His Boots

The laces had been tied together

Like boxing gloves on a nail.

I picked them from the others

And held them in my hands.

I traced the surface, the tired skin,

Creases folding memories

Of places, pavements, years

And streets.

A sandy beach,

Tucked by rocks as he

Ran towards the sea,

His laces loose, entire youth

Stretching clumsily.

A scratch of stick,

The scuff of bricks

Kicked across the yard;

The dented fingerprints of war,

The traceless steps I never saw.


I took them down and put them on,

My foreign feet sat awkwardly,

The carpet seemed too soft for them

So I stepped out to the concrete yard

And kicked a loose stone lazily.

The tongue gripped tight, a sudden wrap

That gave almost a gasp or laugh.


IOB 20.02.2004


About Ian O'Brien

I am a teacher and scribbler, living in Manchester, UK.
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3 Responses to His Boots

  1. leander42 says:

    A really good poem. There’s a lot of imagery that I like, the last verse is especially good. It’s actually difficult to comment because there isn’t anything about it that I don’t like. I’d quite like to have written it myself.

    • That’s so kind! Thanks! I wrote the poem a while ago and it needs re-working, but I still like the sentiment of it. It’s one of the few poems I’ve written that’s about a person, I mostly write about places. Thanks for the feedback, much appreciated!

  2. Pseu says:

    I like it to and agree it would work even better if tighter and reworked.

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