In Competition No. 3166 you were invited to supply a poem either celebrating or lamenting the cancellation of Philadelphia’s annual naked cycle ride.
This enormously popular event, whose aim is to promote body positivity and eco-awareness, sees throngs of cyclists, in varying degrees of undress (total nudity optional), complete a ten-mile course around the streets of Philly. This was to have been its twelfth year, but then Covid struck.
The inevitable smut was tempered by echoes of Wordsworth and Browning. In a large field, I admired Richard Spencer’s neat reworking of ‘Daisy Bell’; Maggie McLean, and Janine Beacham also shone. The winners, printed below, pocket £30 each.
Philly medics are assessing Covid risks, and it’s depressing;
They’re determined to be messing with our ride,
(That’s our cycling expedition where the public exhibition
Of the parts used for coition is our pride.)
They say danger must require us all to halt this nasty virus,
Whose spreading should inspire us all with fear;
Which has left us now agreeing with reluctance to there being
No nudie jamboreeing for this year.
So it’s no go for the pleasure naked-cycle fans most treasure —
But next year we want full measure of our fun,
In that carnival of baring I shall give my bits full airing,
As is proper — yes, I’m swearing: twenty-one
Shall see me willy-nilly biking in the buff through Philly:
Be it warm or be it chilly, I’ll be there.
With a nice girl on my pillion showing off her neat Brazilian,
I’ll be happier than any squillionaire.
Whatever could be healthier
Than cycling Philadelphia
Buck naked as the day that we were born?
But ‘textiles’ have been meddling
With outdoor nudist pedalling;
They’d let us ride, I bet, if clothes were worn.
This bogus Covid mania
Permits old Pennsylvania
To keep us sheathed if we would mount the saddle.
That they have the ability
To so constrain our Liberty
Infuriates all fans of unclothed travel.
We won’t wear a face covering
Or any single other thing
Designed to keep our bodies primly hidden;
Be you babe-in-arms or Granny
You’ll see every crack and cranny
As we cycle by, unlawful and unbidden.
We’ll ride, yes, but be stealthier,
Past midnight when the killjoys are all snoring.
Johnsons joggling on high
Underneath a starry sky:
Do come out and see us when we flash by, touring.
Pennsylvanian skin should kiss the saddle
but sweaty Lycra chokes my airless pubes,
and I’m crosser than a crossbar
that downtown Philadelphia
won’t see the cobble wobble of my moobs,
since Liberty’s cracked bell
has jangled Covid’s knell
on our peloton of punctured inner tubes.
In 2021, we’ll shake the virus
and ride our bikes as birthday-suited blokes,
treat our willies, bare as Adam,
to sweet Philly’s tarmacadam
and a pannier of spot-the-helmet jokes,
when we leap astride and get off
on the Damoclean threat of
a precision circumcision in the spokes.
No nudie wheelies this year
Down the streets of Philadelphia?
We share your disappointment, guys,
It really must be hell for ya
To suffer the indignity
Of needing to be dressed
In nerdy-pervy cycle strip,
The Spandex and the vest;
Infringement of your human rights
To bike au naturel,
Promote ‘good body image’
(Plus other things as well.)
Keep fingers crossed for ’21,
When every lass and lad’ll
Parade their beauteous attributes,
Buck naked in the saddle.
You’d never see Adonis on a Raleigh,
Or Guinevere or Circe on a Rudge,
And whatever Helen’s beauties
May have launched — it wasn’t cuties
On some spartan Scotts or Armstrongs we would judge;
As a general observation
Those who ride for recreation
Rarely whistle up a wolf or prompt a nudge.
So chin up City Hall and Eakins Oval,
Be sanguine, Passyunk and Pattison,
Though we see that you might grieve
For all those Adams and those Eves
And the peddling positivity they’ve spun;
Just recall that you’ll be spared
Much that’s better left unbared
’Til the cycle brings them round in ’21.
No. 3169: in my end is my beginning
You are invited to submit a poem about autumn, in which the last letter of each line becomes the first of the following line. Please email up to 16 lines to lucy@spectator.-co.uk by midday on 29 September. We are now returning to paying winners by cheque, unless you state on your entry that you would prefer to be paid by bank transfer.
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