She sat near the curb, her body folded as if ready to pay obeisance to some forgotten god. She sang snatches of arias in a trained coloratura, accompanied herself on a bruised accordion. Like her, there were keys missing. She was clean, youngish, hair still blonde; her mouth twisted to the right as she sang, as if holding a cigarette and talking. Her life sat behind her stashed in a floral suitcase, the kind you use when traveling distances. There was the question of the ruddy face and swollen fingers (perhaps swollen feet), but she was no one from whom you would shy away. On the ground, a maroon make-up case gaped open seeking tribute from those startled by the richness of her voice. As it filled, she said with a white-toothed smile, Thank you so much and Have a good day. What she didn’t say was God Bless You, and for that the angels took revenge.
is a Teaching Artist for The Alzheimers Poetry Project under the auspices of the Las Vegas Poetry Promise Organization. Charlene is a visual artist, a performer, a voice for NPR’s Theme and Variations, and a writer. Her work is published in numerous anthologies, magazines, and e-zines, most recently Cathexis Northwest Press; Sandstone & Silver: An Anthology of Nevada Poets; Southwestern American Literature; Legs of Tumbleweed, Wings of Lace: An Anthology of Literature by Nevada Women; Duende; The Nervous Ghost; and Oyez Review. Zeitgeist Press published her second chapbook, One Bare Foot. Charlene is in her seventh decade, and loves laughter and coffee ice cream hot fudge sundaes.