Grandpa’s Bib Overalls by Michael Lewis Beck


I poke 
in his pockets—bits of straw, a bandana—
a Barlow to cut twine and salve in a tin
to heal the milk cows’ teats.
He washed his own long johns, ate at
the Home Café,
had a herd of ten Holsteins,
used one-hole of a two-holer outhouse
and belonged to the Evangelical United Brethren Church.

Sometimes when I wake at midnight
I think
I’ve turned into him and get 
up to go to the barn.

His bibs hang in the hall by the back stairs,
ready but useless next to my tweeds.
Sometimes I slip into them, put on muck boots
and go dig up dirt in the back yard.
What am I doing?  I say to myself.
The bibs say:
Get your pencils, your pad, your banjo—

Find Michael Lewis Beck’s Rural Routes on Goodreads

About the contributor

Michael Lewis Beck works and writes in Iowa City. He has pieces in Alexandria Quarterly, Apalachee Review, Big Windows Review, Cortland Review, Chariton Review, Guesthouse, Pure Slush, Pilgrimage, Rootstalk, Seminary Ridge Review, Taos Journal of International Poetry and Art, Writers’ Café and Wapsipinicon Almanac, among other venues. He has a book of poems, Rural Routes, recently published by Alexandria Quarterly Press. His short story, “Delivery in Göteborg,” won a Finalist prize from Chariton Review, 2015. He received a Finalist award for the poem, “The Way the Music Died,” (Palm Beach Poetry Festival Ekphrastic Contest, 2019).

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