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 exhibitionOf 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 beingNo 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-oneShall 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.George Simmers
“Whatever could be healthierThan cycling PhiladelphiaBuck naked as the day that we were born?But ‘textiles’ have been meddlingWith outdoor nudist pedalling;They’d let us ride, I bet, if clothes were worn.This bogus Covid maniaPermits old PennsylvaniaTo keep us sheathed if we would mount the saddle.That they have the abilityTo so constrain our LibertyInfuriates all fans of unclothed travel.We won’t wear a face coveringOr any single other thingDesigned to keep our bodies primly hidden;Be you babe-in-arms or GrannyYou’ll see every crack and crannyAs we cycle by, unlawful and unbidden.We’ll ride, yes, but be stealthier,Traversing PhiladelphiaPast midnight when the killjoys are all snoring.Johnsons joggling on highUnderneath a starry sky:Do come out and see us when we flash by, touring.Adrian Fry
“Pennsylvanian skin should kiss the saddlebut sweaty Lycra chokes my airless pubes,and I’m crosser than a crossbarthat downtown Philadelphiawon’t see the cobble wobble of my moobs,since Liberty’s cracked bellhas jangled Covid’s knellon our peloton of punctured inner tubes.In 2021, we’ll shake the virusand ride our bikes as birthday-suited blokes,treat our willies, bare as Adam,to sweet Philly’s tarmacadamand a pannier of spot-the-helmet jokes,when we leap astride and get offon the Damoclean threat ofa precision circumcision in the spokes.Nick MacKinnon
“No nudie wheelies this yearDown the streets of Philadelphia?We share your disappointment, guys,It really must be hell for yaTo suffer the indignityOf needing to be dressedIn nerdy-pervy cycle strip,The Spandex and the vest;Infringement of your human rightsTo bike au naturel,Promote ‘good body image’(Plus other things as well.)Keep fingers crossed for ’21,When every lass and lad’llParade their beauteous attributes,Buck naked in the saddle.Mike Morrison
“You’d never see Adonis on a Raleigh,Or Guinevere or Circe on a Rudge,And whatever Helen’s beautiesMay have launched — it wasn’t cutiesOn some spartan Scotts or Armstrongs we would judge;As a general observationThose who ride for recreationRarely 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 grieveFor all those Adams and those EvesAnd the peddling positivity they’ve spun;Just recall that you’ll be sparedMuch that’s better left unbared’Til the cycle brings them round in ’21.Nick Syrett
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 email@example.com 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.