Vegetarian Boots

I’m proud of my vegetarian boots.

They’re a very vegetarian thing to do.

Some people eat fish, or even chicken,

and call themselves veggie,

but I’m more proper than that.

When people say, ‘Oh, but what about leather?’

which I used to hear more often than I do now;

or when they point at my feet and say,

‘What about those boots?’

I can say triumphantly,

‘They’re vegetarian. I get them from a special shop

in Brighton.’

Leather boots have a special symbolism,

they’re kind of rebellious,

not always in a good way.

Skinheads wear them, but skinheads

are not always good.

Other kinds of rebels wear leather boots too:

hippies, crusty environmental protestors,

art students who wear blue ones.

Docs are the most famous.

Mine aren’t Docs.

I used to have vegetarian Docs,

but they stopped making them.

Mine aren’t real leather either.

That’s their extra counter-culturalism.

When I wear them to work,

I’m not wearing normal smart shoes

like other people are in their corporate uniforms.

I’m wearing vegetarian boots.

Wearing those boots to work

is a little invisible holding on to humanity

in the big office.

A previous version of this poem appeared in Runcible Spoon.