Patricia Gomes is the Poet Laureate of New Bedford, Massachusetts and is loath to write her bio.  Simply put: she writes, she’s writing, she continues to write; she’s interesting, she’s interested, and continues to be of marginal interest to those with a taste for absurdities.


Autumn Gothic: a Dour Tale

Patricia Gomes


Cedric Hoardaway didn't know for certain
when it was that he'd begun
to husk.

It just happened.

It may have been a year or so
after his he'd settled in Quiet,
after the last box was emptied, the last painting hung,
the last book shelved.

Embarrassing to him,
this kind and uncomplex scribe,
was the fact that while he hadn't noticed, Others had:
"Not to sound foppish, old Sir," said Cedric's barber, Mister Bittlebyte.
"But your skin is terribly dry
and flaky.
Are you drinking enough water?"
     Mr. Bittlebyte failed: he did indeed sound foppish,
     which made Cedric bloody uncomfortable.
"Fresh fruits?  Green vegetables?"
Bittlebyte continued, forcing guilt
and confusion upon Cedric's newly trimmed, white wisps.
It was ever so much simpler
to eat at the Orchid Diner — meatloaf and mashed,
chicken pie on Tuesdays.
And when even that became an inconvenience
     due to weather
     and because the writing was going so well here
     in Quiet,
opening a canned good
proved an optimal solution.

Of course, there were times he simply forgot.
He was never one to eat by the clock,
which would've been impossible considering he'd unplugged them all
to maintain the atmosphere
of Quiet.
They hummed, you see.  The hum disturbed his flow
of text.
The clocks went first,
then the radio,
then the television. But —
the computer remained
the writing was going so well.

it may have begun,
    (this husking,)
as Cedric lost himself
to plot lines, innuendo and segue,
careful to avoid the words:
and the Dreaded
He thought it much less complicated
to go about all day in ecru thermals and navy blue slipper socks, 
which brings us
round to this strophe:


Socks are a bother, wouldn't you say?
Of course, you would.
All that matching
and folding
and balling up.
So Cedric ordered two-dozen pair
of white crew length cotton,
size 10-13 online; he hated shopping in stores.
Hated lines, hated crowds, hated people
in general, which led him to unplug
the telephone.
Less complications;
no more calls from old-n-artsy New York friends
requiring him to socialize,
dress up,
hop a plane, 
or  worse —
what if
his Arch Rival and Fiercest Competitor, Marionetta Funicello,
called to ask that he write a few kind words for her upcoming dust jacket? 
No — no more interruptions — here
was the simple life he'd always desired, here
lay the near Buddhist existence.

Or, perhaps it had begun
     (the husking thing)
when he'd given up his daily walks
so as not to interfere with the goings-on of the spiders
who'd nested above the front door.
There went sunsets
and rock collecting
and pretty girl watching.
Mind, he didn't really miss those things;
the writing was going so well!
He knew, in his parched heart, that he had the makings
of a Best Seller
stored on his hard drive.
He knew it
as he scratched his flaky hands,
his chipping knees
his shingle-y rump.

     (or And, if you prefer)
like all things, what begins
must eventually end.  
For every Start, there is a Finish.

There came a day, an eerie, October day,
the sky was neither grey nor blue but
luminous yellow; it cast a ghast
ly glow over his bookshelves,
and dust,
and collection of aspirin tins.
The house groaned and squeaked;
Cedric heard the mice
dash madly through the plaster
on their way
to the warmth of the furnace.
He dared peek out the sooty parlor window:
withered leaves tornadoe-ing on his neglected
front lawn were soon joined by the resin lawn chairs
under the ungodly sky. What a sight!  
A thing a writer should experience first hand!
He exited through the oversized window:
his bony legs creaked
as he avoided the monumental pile of newspapers
he'd forgotten to bring in, and


He blew away — reduced to a student's discarded spelling test
that earned a C and therefore no stars
or stickers.


He blew away . . .  Quietly.

And after a time, Hardedge, Mollycoddle & Filament,
Cedric's, former publishers, paid Marionetta Funicello
a goodly advance to finish her Dear Friend's

(or gladly — depending on whose side you're taking)
it never made the Times' list.
Sales dried up
after the initial rush of the first press run.