On this fine day I was the featured poet at the RAILS pub in Byron Bay, a fine old seaside pub adjoining the local railway station and offering a modest selection of excellent organic ales.
In the good old days when trains still ran, the train from Sydney would pull in towards the end of the poetry slam time and bewildered travellers could witness an array of inebriated freek poets passionately wailing the riffs of their lives.
But on this particular day, the platform was crowded with thirty or so naked cyclists wearing only dayglo bicycle helmets. This ingenious crew were involved in the World Naked Bike Ride and were about to ride thru town. I was due to start at 3pm but with ten minutes left, the photographer Jeff Dawson from the independent local newspaper The Echo appeared at my side and offered me a photo opportunity he knew I could never resist.
Back on the platform, the local police had appeared followed by more photographers and onlookers to hand out pamphlets outlining the rules for public nakedness. "Stay on yer bike" and "Don't shove yr genitals in peoples faces" that sort of thing.
Quite civilzed really.
But Photographer Jeff is a man of sterner stuff still. Unfazed by neo colonial architraves, he hoisted himself up onto the scaffolding under the roof and focussed his camera while casually hanging upside down from one arm.
In no time he had us all organized, placing me in the middle of the naked cyclists who unsurprisingly included a couple of my friends. The shots were quickly completed.
Suddenly, with a strange cry, my oldest pal the very naked mister jim nutter, began pulling down my pants and removing the few items adorning my elongated elf. To everybodies delight, amid cheers and laughter I was quickly denuded.
Now there were shots of us ALL naked by the intrepid Mister Dawson and then just as suddenly, he swung down to earth to show me the picture. "Thats the one!"
He then told me he had a broken rib!
At this point the poetry mc the indominable david hallet appeared, urgent at my elbow. "You're on now!" Unthinking, I threw on my clothes and ran thru to the stage.
My first poem, an anti capitalism ironic tirade began well and I was just getting in the groove when suddenly the whole focus turned to the road outside.
The naked bike ride had begun.
It erupted past the pub, colours flags banners shining brightly, bodies painted vividly and mounted on startlingly high tech bikes.
Indeed they were rivetting!
My poem ran down like a disconnected clock.
I gawped at them
The audience gawped at them.
HOOORAYYY i yelled in the mike.
HOOOORAYYYY yelled the audience.
HOOOOOORAYY! yelled the naked riders.
We watched them move out of sight.
Inspired by this bit of fun I saw that
the next line of my poem read:
O HOLY CAPITAL!
FOR YOU WE HAVE CREATED THIS CHURCH OF DISTRACTION!
Now I was back into the flow and I really got stuck in.
BURN THE FLAG!
CULL THE SALESFORCE!
MANAGEMENT FUCK OFF AND DIE!
My only regret was that I had remembered to put my clothes back on. I could have been the first naked poet at the rails. Silly me.