Honoring the 'Future Tops of America'

Excerpt From Chris Gudgeon's 'Future Tops of America'

Canadian author Christopher Gudgeon has followed up his novels and non-fiction pieces with his first poetry anthology, Assdeep in Wonder. Exploring identity, desire, and gender, the collection includes the poem "Future Tops of America," which he was kind enough to share with us below. Find out more about Assdeep in Wonder here; Gudgeon will appear at West Hollywood's legendary Book Soup February 24. 

 

The country salutes you,

Future Tops of America,

the Joint Chiefs of Staff have

reviewed the agenda and like

what they see. The President

signed an Executive Order;

there’ll be a pancake breakfast

on the steps of the Lincoln

Memorial, and in every burgh

and burrow – from Loring Park

to Key West, mayors have

commissioned gold keys, to

unlock those ancient hearts,

as good people – neighbors

and friends – stand on tippy

toes to catch a glimpse of this

mighty army of men and angels. 

Everywhere, across the nation,

people are waiting to see what

you do next. Onward -- unhurt,

unhated -- like Christian soldiers,

marching as to war . . .

 

The route is set,

Future Tops of America,

for a ticker tape parade, up

Chartres Street and down Orange

Avenue, across the West Side

Highway to the very end of

The Centerville Turnpike, past

the white-washed ranchers with

Huck Finn fences, past the tire

 swing hung from the old oak tree,

festooned now with pink and

yellow ribbons, past the little

brick chapel, still wet with

Sunday prayer, past the junior

high, where the marching band

practices show tunes from the

approved list, where a solitary

boy lays in the cold, uncut grass,

dreaming of tether ball and a

Valentine kiss.  Onward, little

brother, child soldier for this

fabulous Crusade, marching as

to war, but not as to war, as to

something even better . . .

 

Moms are baking,

Future Tops of America,

on every kitchen sill, from

Winnepago County to Wahneta,

apple pie and rhubarb Brown

Betty and every manner of

cobbler, crisp and crumble are

cooling in the afternoon shade.

Reverend Larson’s organized a

box social in the park –

everyone’s invited – and later

there’s a potluck by the

Kenduskeag bridge. The Warren

boy will be there, Scotty Weaver,

Steven Charles, their bellies full

of  bumbleberry coffee cake and

whoopee pie, buttermilk biscuit

and Tollhouse cookie. As the

bonfire fades, you’ll assemble in

the town square to renew the

glorious stomp, marching, ever-

forward, because when you stand,

you stand alone . . .

 

Everyone’s joining in,

Future Tops of America,

faster than a hidden glance; you

can feel the shift from Seattle to

Central Park, from Montrose to

Greenwich Village and all along

the Appalachian Trail. Domino’s

is focus-testing toys for the

Junior Daddy JoyBox kid’s meal,

batteries not included, as Carl’s

Jr. launches the Future Tops

Bases Loaded Breakfast Burger:

three eggs – one sunny side up,

one over easy, one completely

scrambled – wedged with a slab

of lean sausage between two

pieces of dry toast.  The

Salvation Army called, Future

Tops of America; they love the

whole marching motif, it’s

something they can really get

behind: a single force, fresh-

faced, steadfast, fueled by

brotherhood and amyl nitrite,

ready to get down to business,

but never too busy to cuddle.

Even the Boy Scouts are getting

into the act, with patches for

Transgender Studies and Edging,

Voguing and Water Sports;

you’ll be prepared for anything

in the America of the future,

Future Tops of America. Onward

Rebecca Wight, unhurt, unhated,

as to war or something better! 

Onward Roxanne Ellis, unhurt,

unhated, as to war or something

better!  Onward Eddie Justice,

unhurt, unhated, as to war or

something better!  They are lining

the streets, brothers and sisters,

waiting for you pass,  like Christian

soldiers, marching as to war; but

not to war.  As to something even

bigger than war, something even

smaller than peace . . .

 

Jesus loves you,

Future Tops of America.

It’s not a gay thing, He loves you

as a person and thinks next time

He’s in town you should Netflix

and chill. In church halls and

chapels across America, from

Roanoke to Grant Town to

Laramie, in Mosques and

synagogues, from Fayetteville

and Topeka, in Kingdom Halls

and Christian Science Reading

Rooms, in Shinto Shrines and

Even every ashram, ordinary

folk, from Coconut Creek to

Braxton, are on their knees,

praying: God speed, Future

Tops of America! Concerned

Women are No Longer

Concerned, abiding truths have

given way to intemperate joy.

General Hollis sent a heart-

shaped balloon, a dozen yellow

roses and a handwritten note –

“Love is not a sin, no matter how

fleeting; crowns and thrones may

perish, kingdoms rise and wane,

but we shall never falter” – as

everywhere, across the nation,

good people, God-fearing men

and women, are answering the

call. Andy Gipson walks with

you, Future Tops of America,

John McTernan and Charles

Worley – Onward! – a single

force, one body, one mind,

steadfast but never settled,

because when we stand, we

stand alone, but when we march,

we march together . . .

 

There’s a rhythm,

Future Tops of America

a kind of music that masks the

crack of thunder and that distant

hiss; it’s hypnotic, the thump of

the boot, the thump of pump.

You would dance if you could,

Future Tops of America – the

Hustle and the Funky Chicken,

Do-Si-Do and Grind – but the

music is inside you now, and

every heart beats as one, because

you are marching with angels,

treading where only saints have

gone before, steadfast, determined, 

the ranks increasing geometrically,

faster than a lover’s cry, faster than

a mother’s heart can break, your

ranks are growing and growing. 

Spread the word Ricky Rius, let

the syllables explode from your

lips at 2,500 feet-a-second!  Spread

the word Simmie Williams, unhurt,

unhated!  Spread the word, August

Provost and hold your head high

because everywhere, good

Americans – mothers, fathers,

sisters, brothers -- are lining

this and every street, waiting – quietly,

patiently -- for you to pass.

Onward Brandon Teena, unhurt,

unhated, marching as to war or

something better!  Onward Jason

Mattison, unhurt, unhated,

marching as to war or something

better!  Onward Daniel Fetty,

unhurt, unhated, as to war

or something better!  Onward

Paul Broussard!  Onward Nireah

Johnson!  Ever onward, Future

Tops of America, marching as to

war, but not as to war!  As to

peace, but not as to peace!  As

to something greater than war!

Something greater than peace!

Something not-quite formed and as

yet-unnamed, something very

nearly glorious, the kind of

something that, in this moment –

as the crowd stands in silence,

watching you pass – looks

an awful lot like love . . .

Chris Gudgeon 100

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