I Will Never Be a Cowboy – BEE LB

after Katrina Agbayani

though i spent much of my life trying.
chased the barrels like i’d never known the rush of dizziness.
clutched the mane of a living thing like we were one and the same.
rode bareback in winter like my favorite childhood movie.
somewhere in a box left in my childhood home are all the ribbons
i might have won. somewhere in a landfill are all the ribbons i won and lost.
somewhere in my mother’s attic is a horse with a broken leg
porcelain showing through paint where it hit the ground
after leaving my father’s violent hand. all it would take is a ring
of glue and care in setting to fix the figurine. i want BEST IN SHOW
for refusing to gentle my aunt’s mustang colt.
ALL AROUND COWBOY for never knowing when to quit
or how to start. BREAKAWAY ROPING for perfect
timing without the cruelty of a fall. i want to bet
on the fat chance without pushing an animal
beyond its limits. i want the rush without the race.
the cowboy hat tucked down for that sheepish shot like all the western boys
were the first to ever blush. i want to step to the second ring
of a rickety wood fence so i can lean over and kiss
another cowboy. i want the metal coil to brand
my hip, not the livestock. let’s open up
all the pens, let the animals roam
free. let’s pile the hay and pretend it’s soft enough
to lay on. open the hatch in the hayloft and look out at the stars
even though you never see a cowboy
at night. let’s pretend i’m the roughed up cowboy
and you’re the buckle bunny and we’re just gonna have a little fun.
we can pretend i’ve never heard the squeal
of a dying thing and you believe me when i tell you who i am
and who i’m not. let’s pretend the heat of the sun is a stadium light
and the crow of the cock is the crowd cheering me on.
i want to touch the horns of a bull
and promise that i’ll never make it
buck. let the fury steam
doused in cold water, touch nose to wet snout.
i’ve always been my worst animal. once, i kept a ring
between my two nostrils and promised
not to pull.

BEE LB is an array of letters, bound to impulse; a writer creating delicate connections. they have called any number of places home; currently, a single yellow wall in Michigan. they have been published in Revolute Lit, After the Pause, and Roanoke Review, among others. they are the 2022 winner of the Bea Gonzalez Prize for Poetry. they are a poetry reader for Capsule Stories. their portfolio can be found at twinbrights.carrd.co

Leave a Reply