I should’ve been a cowboy.

I’d have learned to rope and ride, as the song goes.

I’d have lived a life without rules, a life without borders and a life without states or nations, because out where the cowboys ride, there are none, and there never will be.

This grass, that grass; it’s mine or it’s yours. Is it ours? Not in this country.

I should’ve been a cowboy.

The fresh and early mornings of feed and dried corn and manure; the gentle afternoons of an old horse in a rented stall after a long day, after another long ride.


The type that I envy.

Open and large and un-bordered, the way an American life’s meant to be.

I should’ve been a cowboy.

I’d have had fields and stars, mountains and lakes, a wife who loved me and children who woke early and rode, too, just like their father, their father who was a cowboy.

I’d have settled down; I’d have built us a house.

I’d have built it myself, on the land that I’d chosen and it would be big, big like our family, big like our many and unfulfilled dreams that we’d talk about only late at night when we’d drank too much, big like what I see and what I feel when I come in from the fields and sit on the porch and she sits next to me.

I’d feel her, pressed against me. I’d feel her heart. I’d hear our children playing in the yard, just their laughter.

And then I’d look out at the burnt orange sun as it set over rolling and storied hills; I’d look at the fading light as it spread and touched everything that I could see, as it spread and touched us, too.

I’d want to describe this moment, I’d want to describe what I see, and what I feel.


I’m a cowboy.

I’ll shake my head, and I’ll whisper—

I should’ve been a poet.

Christopher Cosmos was raised in the Midwest and attended the University of Michigan as the recipient of a Chick Evans Scholarship. He’s an author and Black List-screenwriter whose debut novel, ONCE WE WERE HERE, was published by Arcade and Simon & Schuster on October 20th, 2020, and is now available anywhere that books are sold. More information and details can be found at www.christophercosmos.com.