No Easy Answers, Only More Questions

“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” - Reinhold Niebuhr

Death visited Irene last night and took her swiftly, without warning or as much as a whisper.  News of the passing of a loved one travels fast in today’s global world.  I feel vulnerable.  Scared.  Devastated.  I suppose in the grand scheme of things we all think we are doing what we should do and can do and then when tragedy strikes, wonder if we really did. What are we doing?  We spent a lifetime trying to define the purpose and meaning of a life, but what is the purpose of death?  And why does not everyone get the same amount of time to live?  It is dark, and all things seem distorted in the shadows of the night. In the morning when daylight breaks, perhaps the light will make things a bit clearer - and things easier to understand. Death is as much a part of life as birth - but right now, it is impossible for me to understand.
 

Yet, the show must go on.  The world keeps turning. Bills come in like clockwork.  Deadlines still stand. And we make it through our day, physically present and mentally somewhere else.  However, tonight I struggle with finding words to write.  My mind is numb. I keep staring at my laptop and only seem to see words such as “grief,” “serenity,” vulnerability,” and “suffering” jump out at me.  Words reflective of my emotions.  Words reflective of my perceptive reality.  I thought about a 9/11 call I  listened to.  I reflected on the clarity, the transparency, the tone, the seemingly tranquility of that incredible Georgia elementary school bookkeeper who convinced a gunman who “was willing to kill” and “that he knew he was going to die” to disarm and get on the floor.  She certainly did not plan on coming to school that day to make a 9/11 call while being held hostage at gunpoint. She never mediated before.  How did she build “rapport” with the 20-year old troubled man, and what did she do or say to convince him to surrender? She talked about her divorce after 33 years of marriage, and the “roller coaster” of opening her own business.  She told him that he was going to be okay. If she could recover, he could, too.

Those of us with some mediation experience and training know that everything we do in mediation is tactical. Macro and micro-application. We are not neutral, we are hired to drive the process. And to close.  Where possible, we prepare ahead of time.  We have read the briefs on the case and are somewhat familiar with the parties’ positions.   We walk through the door and strive to be a “likeable person” to build rapport and eventually trust with the parties.  We are intuitively aware of our surroundings, pick up on things seen, and on things unseen.  With humility, curiosity (and patience!) we investigate cracks, because that is where the light gets in.  The emotions are the means.  We ask open-ended questions, reframe, moderate and occasionally shuttle, but we monitor the conversation closely with the goal in our mind. ABC.  Always Be Closing.  We are in charge.  We probably took on the case voluntarily and/or received compensation for our time.  Ms. Tuff did not.  She followed some 900 people fleeing the gunman when he took her and another administrator hostage. 

We talk about maintaining a sense of self in conflict.  We all had our share of mediating ‘silly’ disputes as well as unusual or even oddly foreign ones.  We have feelings and emotions too, but for the purpose of mediation, we are careful to share them.  But what about those days where we are grieving?  Those days where we cannot seem to concentrate on anything.  And yet, no matter how we feel, we have to show up.  I wonder how mediators in mourning conduct a joint session or caucus, actively listen, validate the parties’ respective positions and focus on closing the deal.  Do we react differently? Are the stages of grieving in different order for some of us? I thought about my ten-year career as filmmaker.  I ‘blocked’ real people for my shot and for the stage, knowing that how I placed them manipulated how the viewer perceived them. While preserving an ember of emotion, empathy perhaps, feeling with strangers and their life stories intensely, I realized that I retain a part of them, of their “touch” with me. The pain of someone else's pain, the scars that define and transform people through life, is what makes people what they are and what makes their never-wavering courage to “go on” breathtaking admirable.

When we look into other people’s lives – how do we stay positive? Through life’s struggles? Trials and errors? Can we find strategies? We will never have everything we want.  I imagine that if I were to have a mediation today after hearing about Irene, I not only would be consciously aware of my raw emotional state, but also know that I could not push thoughts about her out of my mind.  Yet, I would not share my emotions with the parties to the mediation.  Why would I? To garner their sympathy? Or make them uncomfortable? Or both?  It is not about me.  My job is to close. 

We talked about Lady Justice a lot lately.  It struck me today that Lady Justice’s scales date back to the Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead, featuring a scene in which the God Anubis weighs the Decedent’s heart against the Feather of Truth.  I thought it was interesting that many people are not able to identify her despite her telltale scales.  Blind-folded, but with a powerful and raised sword in her left hand, she greeted me every morning for two summers on my way to court.  As litigators (or in my case, a litigator in training) we present the court with one version of the case, our story, and try our best to discredit the other side’s story.  As mediators we strive to balance the stories by digging for those shared interests beneath the positions.  And then there are days like today, where we struggle to define justice all together.

When discussing the art of the question, negotiation and compromise one thing that becomes apparent is that some things just cannot be taught but only learned through personal experience.  Mediation is an art.  Its colors, shapes and design do not speak to everyone. Those of us with a pragmatic and factual approach discover that it is not always about the nail. Others of us who attempt to talk about feelings may find themselves on the other end of the spectrum: “Don’t talk to me about feelings. You have no idea how I am feeling!” Mediators can learn and practice the art, but the process remains a balancing act.  Where does that leave us? Like everything else in life, we discover there are no easy answers, only more questions.  Some things cannot be explained, some things are difficult to understand, if one can understand at all, and some things cannot be taught.

Goodbye 2016, hello 2017!

With 2017 around the corner, many of us have their reasons to be cynical about the year beginning in 26 hours. We certainly have seen the worst of 2016, and it is difficult to imagine what good could possibly come out of 2017.  But if we pause and look a little closer, we may discover that 2016 also has paved the way for some great things as long as people around the world continue to step up and speak out on issues they are passionate about.

To briefly recap: 
Myanmar, ruled by the military for decades, elects the Nobel peace laureate and leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD), Aung San Suu Kyi, as head of Myanmar's government. Lebanon finally has a president, after 45 failed attempts by the country's parliament to vote and 2.5 years without a head of state. Gambia voted out a dictator. Gambia and Tanzania banned child marriage.  Pakistan passed a law against honor killings.  Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC leader Rodrigo Londoño  signed a peace treaty ending Latin America's longest war. Non-violent protests helped to impeach South Korea's President Park Geun-hye. India planted 50 million trees in one day. West Africa is ebola-free. Sri Lanka eliminated malaria. In the United States the high school graduation rate is at its highest, and the unemployment rate is the lowest in 10 years. 
The Cubs finally won the World Series. Juno made it to Jupiter. Scientists found an Earth-like planet 4.2 light years away. Hawaii boosts the largest, protected marine sanctuary in the world, a total of 582,578 square miles. 

Lastly but not least, my father accepted a prestigious position with SOFIA, my sister got engaged, and I am months away from graduating law school.

Hello 2017!


Equidistant

He was looking at something
That which, by all rights, should not exist.
Everything he thought he knew about her 
Turned out to be
Nothing more than memories.
She was no longer here,
That much was certain.
She was, in fact, not here.
The man cleared his throat, then fell silent.
This was a definitive silence, one to judge
The qualities of other silences by.
To find himself equidistant between two points
Gave him the funniest feeling.
She had decided to forget everything.
She had already lost what she was supposed to lose.
There was no other reasonable explanation possible
From such unreasonable circumstances.
He decided that a long time ago.
His fate was, and always will be, that of a dreamer.

© Colleen Yorke. 2016.

Frederick

Growing up, my parents read the story of Frederick, the mouse, to me.

Winter is near and all the field mice are busy preparing and gathering food for the cold months ahead - all except for Frederick. Always the daydreamer, Frederick sits on a rock soaking up the sun rays, much to the dismay of his fellow mice. However, as it turns out, when darkness sets in and winter has come, Frederick has stored enough sunlight to warm the hearts and feed the spirits of his fellow mice.  His radiance carries them through a dark and cold winter.

While I am certainly not a daydreamer, I aspired to be Frederick, full of light and radiance.  I studied film and moved to Germany to direct theater plays.   In the words of Faulkner, I sought “to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means and hold it fixed so that a hundred years later, when a stranger looks at it, it moves again since it is life. Since man is mortal, the only immortality possible for him is to leave something behind him that is immortal since it will always move.” 
Today, as I drove home from a nine hours workday, I thought about Frederick, the mouse.  I reflected that the one thing those hard-working mice do not realize is that artists wake up to a blank canvas every day. By evening, there is the expectation that it is filled. The artist goes to bed and wakes up to a white canvas again 24 hours later, week after week, year after year, however long they manage to color in the void. A decade of highs and lows, I certainly had my share of vacuums. 

The few occasions I did complain about not being valued adequately (as in not getting paid for the work), or described how I had lived in the basement of a theater for three months, the general response was the same: “Some of us have to do real work.  I wish I had the time to write poetry and make movies like you.”

The fear of losing our moxie, the loneliness and the isolation become a part of life. Some of my friends reached for the stars and actually caught one.  They live their dreams and trust that when the dream fades away, they will find another one.  But for the majority of us the dream factory Hollywood is exactly that, a factory with assembly lines. Cast and crews work together side by side, contributing their part.  Day after day, these dream workers check back in.  They take pride in the fact that their contribution is an important, essential part of the whole. 

As for me, I consider myself lucky to have seen both sides, and blessed to have found my dream along the way.  Someday I hope to be the lawyer, who can shine her light on others and help those in need to find justice.

Making art is a job, and an important one.  And until we have been there and done that, we should be grateful for the Fredricks in the world who warm our hearts and rekindle our spirits.

Love Letters to Los Angeles

On numerous occasions, I have tried to grasp this beautiful and heart-wrenching city in writing; Los Angeles’ ethnic essence, its strange lessons in propinquity and its many conflicts would not let me go. Aside from the obvious imagery, the stereotypes and the clichés, how does one describe Los Angeles? This is another attempt.

Sunlight tapping on moving cars and dazzling on skyscrapers, fleeting glimpses of a city in constant traffic, crass architectural differences shown in barrios, beachfront mansions, the interactions of immigrant workers, struggling mothers and generations wrestling with too few resources - far beyond the confines of two-dimensions, every inch of the diverse, ever-changing landscape is part of a story of this city.

Lost and found souls, trying to find their way through Los Angeles’ uncontrollability, take comfort in the chaos. As the city grows on the characters, they grow with it. Small villages inspired from memories of life abroad pop up everywhere; street signs and storefronts in luminous Chinese characters and Japanese Kanji symbols welcome visitors - beyond the touristy Chinatown, Koreatown and Little Tokyo, new Asian enclaves have put their pegs. Polished vinyl-tiled corridors under a string of skylights, crème-painted walls, numbered flush doors, each with a plastic nameplate fastened to the wall beside it.
In Pasadena and Glendale several neighborhood blocks make up Little Armenia, the home away from home for Armenian families. The little ones attend a private Armenian pre-school and meet their friends at a church community center. Commonly found are Armenian bakeries: The wonderful aroma of yeasty bread and the window decorations of delicate, mouth-watering sweets seduce the senses.

In the east side of city, by the Los Angeles river, conversations shift to Spanish. A smell of chili and grilled cheese lingers in the air. The walks are littered with wet paper, crushed orange-drink cartons, broken glass. Some rusting car bodies, compacted into cubes, are stacked behind a steel-mesh fence. Large murals of arrested moments, astonishingly three-dimensional, appear to leap out of the worn-out white-stucco barrios with windows piled with cardboard cartons and ordinary wood doors with weathered brass knobs and key circles, as if the tantalizing reality of the vanished moment might somehow be seized and the first nearly imperceptible movement detected. Everywhere, as far as the eye can see, streets, signs, murals and shops remind of travel sights from abroad.

Life happens, we all have our favorite L.A. stories, which have influenced us, shaped us and helped us to discover who we are. Young voices contribute fresh perspectives. Retro comes back into style with a twist that makes them feel new all over again. In the image-making capital of the world, adding our footprint in a city that is constantly reinventing itself is maybe purpose enough.

The journey is in no way finished, the story continues…

© Colleen Yorke. All rights reserved. 2016.

Sincerely, yours.

He wrote a letter to explain. 
He wrote he wanted to explain but explained that 
Explaining it would not explain it at all
And that things were better left unexplained.

© Colleen Yorke, 2016. 




Be Human

Tonight on my drive home, a radio moderator explained the concept of "ghosting" and then proceeded to tell her listeners what to do, if they have been ghosted:  

"(1) Delete everything you have of the person (pictures, texts, emails) until you have nothing to remind you; (2) Stand up for yourself and tell the person what you think, even if they never respond; (3) Be thankful, you would have never wanted this person in your life anyway."

That's it.  Her words were followed by some non-descriptive song, another, then another.  I stayed with the station, hoping to catch that mysterious woman giving therapeutic advice on the air, surely there would be a talk of some sort on the phenomena of ghosting?  Nothing.  Apparently deleting or unfriending a person takes care of your ghosts.  

Coincidentally, Professor Robinson, a renowned mediator with the Pepperdine Straus Institute of Dispute Resolution, gave a thought-provoking lecture on "apologizing" today.  Specifically, he introduced the following hypothesis, using the scenario of a car accident as an example:  What if you rear-ended another car, got out, and apologized to the driver?  Now, the law student in us silently screamed: "No, no way! That is admitting liability."  However, over the next hour, Professor Dr. Robinson led us into a dazzling world of apology, forgiveness and reconciliation.  Can we not ever just apologize, he asks. Do we really have to enter that vicious cycle of denial, guilt, pretending, and going forward without ever seeking closure or reconciliation?  Can we not as lawyers and as decent human beings step up, admit mistakes, admit weaknesses and face consequences? Are consequences really bad? 

He provides another example of a child who threw a rock into a neighbor's window and tells his papa: "No one saw it.  No one will ever know."  He takes one long glance: "As parents, what do you tell your child? Do you tell him, 'oh, okay we shall lie low then, no one will ever find out'.  Or do you teach your son about responsibility and facing consequences? Why?" "Because I need to preserve my integrity as a parent," a student answers.  Integrity. A guide post in our journey to accept responsibility and to grow up.  Professor Robinson tells us that he got a call from a former student recently.  He had made a stupid mistake years ago, and now believed his life was crumbling into one messy pile before him.  Professor Robinson reminded him that we all are vulnerable in some form or another, and advised him to reach out to people and tell them the truth.  As it turned out, the consequences were nowhere near the total apocalypse the former student had envisioned.  Professor Robinson's lesson to us today: "Be the person you want to live with.  Face consequences.  Do apologize, do admit your flaws and weaknesses, do express your feelings.  Be human."

I think about that moderator who suggested fixing the ghosts in our lives by forgetting them.  I wonder what experiences she went through that made her abstract a person to a mere thought that can be expunged.  Grieving can be a long and arduous process, and we suffer through all the phases of it.    Yes, it is painful to have a ghost living in your heart, and not really knowing why, but there are many reasons why people ghost and without knowing more, no one should ever advise anyone to delete a person from their lives.

"How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours." - Wayne Dyer

Colleen Yorke. All rights reserved. 2016.

And I shall never be the president of Funafuti . . .

I always prepare for my meetings with Jack. When I ring his doorbell, I am armed and well rehearsed with new life wisdoms. The circumstances force me to. Jack is unlike any guy you know or will ever meet. He is single, and he turned 25, 30, 35, living from one moment to the next.

Every year, just before the Jewish New Year, Jack discards the recent year. He gives away books, which he is not going to read - too much time has passed and he hasn’t read them. He tries to recall the pictures that he didn’t take and to remember the letters that he didn’t write. And after some hours of reflection, he departs from the documentation of lived life. He says, separation makes him free. After all, all that remains of life is a memory, which is not dependent on things.

I tread carefully: “What about your resolutions, Jack?”, as he opens the second bottle of red wine. His eyes sparkle, and he smiles. Jack has never given up his resolutions. This is as certain as the fact that I will never become president of Funafuti.  “They aren’t worth anything,” he says. “Every feeling has been felt. Every thought thought of. You do it yourself. Fill it with purpose and meaning.” 

I try again: “Why start over every year, Jack? If you didn’t have a calendar, you wouldn’t even get the idea…"
He interrupts me: “Let's not have this discussion. Have some wine. I want to spare you the bataillone of New Year aphorisms. Seriously, I am armed. You don’t stand a chance.”

Well, for what it is worth, Jack and I have been friends for decades and I know we will remain friends, until life itself discards us to a memory past.

© Colleen Yorke. All rights reserved. 2016

Cute Meet


I am sitting in a cozy theater café on Santa Monica Boulevard, drinking coffee and writing reflections in my journal. The door flies open, and in marches a colorful and cheery fellow wearing a Hawaiian shirt, beige shorts, sneakers and a matching crème colored hat. His blue eyes scan the room, taking in the vibrant murals and decorative accessories before curiously settling onto me. “Are you a writer?” 

I tell him I keep a daily journal just for fun, dabbling in observations of life. He gently takes the book out of my hands and admires my cursive handwriting. “I want to hear something you have written. Read it to me.” So I do. He looks at me, his eyes are soft and full of emotion. “That was beautiful. Can you please write it down? I want to frame it.” Surprised and flattered, I copy down my little paragraph on the back of his program, signing it with my name. He grips my hand firmly: “I will treasure this, Colleen.” 

Later I see him again. Seated in the front row of a black box theater, he excitingly points at me and exclaims: ”This is Colleen. This is the gal, I told you about, she wrote the poem.” Around me, heads turn. The lights go out, and I sit down. If you are reading this, Richard, thank you for making my day and night.

Here is what I wrote on the back of a program today:
On the road of life, every once in awhile
You meet a stranger who asks to walk with you.
He doesn’t want to know where you have been,
What you do or where you are going;
He doesn’t want directions,
A commitment or a place to stay…
Go on, you are in
For maybe the best conversation of your life.


© Colleen Yorke. All rights reserved. 2016

Ghosted

Seen a lot of ghosts sailing by
Phantom islands lost at sea
One of them was mine.
An empty house is not a home.
We cannot do it alone.
The storck and the cloud
Ron and Hermione
You and I
One life.
A love that cannot be taken
Memories that cannot be forsaken
By ration or reason
Storm or season.
And when darkness sets in
The only way out is in
For better and worse
Somewhere out there
Is a place
Holding our fate.

Colleen Yorke. All right reserved. 2016.








Talk To Me Please.

It seems to be a curse of our generation.  Surely, emails and text messaging have contributed to it.  We make friends, we become intimate with someone, and then we stop talking.  The urban dictionary provides a word for that: "ghosting."  

"Ghosting" is when our partner ends the relationship by cutting off all communication, without any explanation nor forewarning. Every phone call, text, email gets the ultimate silent treatment.  Someone we laughed with, cried with, hugged and tasted the world with suddenly disappears without a trace.  We dive into our deepest insecurities for answers, not quite believing what is happening - wasn't he or she the one? - and we resort to inner conversations with ourselves, trying to rationalize our feelings.  And then there is that faint beacon of hope that we will see them again, that it is all a short-lived, bad dream, and we look to the door, waiting for the person to walk in, because in the end love conquers all.   

There are psychological reasons why someone ghosts; at its core, ghosting in its essence is avoidance – wanting to avoid confrontation, difficult conversations, or hurting someone's feelings. However, this choice is probably the worst outcome a ghost could hope for – for one, too often emotions, frustrations, misunderstandings are blown up disproportionately.  Stepping back a second and putting ourselves into our partner's shoes place things in perspective - maybe they have not slept for days, maybe they feel lonely and unappreciated, and very often all the other partner needs is a hug and positive reinforcement.  Instead, the ghost clings onto an one-sided view of things, overthinks some platonic slogan or soundbyte that was said in the heat of human dimensions – easily fixed in a face to face conversation.  An insurmountable mountain of "problems" ensues, and the ghost vanishes.  Unsettled feelings remain, often for years to come.  Maybe we move on with our lives, and find someone else to fill up the void, but at what price?

People are not mirror images of each other nor should they be.  Talk to me please. I miss you.

© All rights reserved. 2016.

Like East and West

Like east and west
Together things seem impossible
And without each other even more.
the wind tugs from both sides
Sometimes more on one
Sometimes more on the other.
And when the wall falls
The west has to let the east go
Although the east never leaves.

© Colleen Yorke. All rights reserved. 2016

So Many Miles From Home

What kind of life
Is it in a war zone?
What kind of life
Is it so many miles from home?
What kind of life
Is it alone with so many demands?
What kind of life
Is it when no one understands?
The person I met, 
The person I can't forget
Is living without a net.
The person is not a myth,
Somewhere below hidden
Lies a beautiful soul
I know he exists.
What kind of life
Is it in a war zone?
What kind of life
Is it when he comes home?
Will he come home? 
© Colleen Yorke. All rights reserved. 2016.

It is a Chase With No End

Published in the 2010 Anthology of Poems:

It is a chase with no end.
He is faster than she.
And she is tired of running.
He runs on, faster and faster.
Feet pounding in the sand.
Not looking back-
She becomes smaller and smaller.
The distance larger and larger.
And when he does turn around,
When he is out of breath,
She will catch up and
She will outrun him.
The rules always change.
And suddenly before he realizes
He is chasing her.
But she doesn’t stop running.

© Colleen Yorke. All rights reserved. 2016.

Between the Doors

"There are things known, and things unknown, and in between are the Doors."
-Jim Morrison

Back in March I wrote about the Los Angeles Marathon. If you are interested to know how I did on my 26.2 mile-long journey from start to finish http://www.runningvisions.com/2014/03/running-los-angeles-marathon.html or would like to read other running blogposts (they are not solely on running), feel free to stop by at www.runningvisions.com.
 
I would like to write and update you every once in awhile. Some of you I have not spoken to in ages, distance is partly to blame for that, and with others of you I simply dropped the thread and I would like to pick it up again. I've worked with some of you (or I still am!), some of you I've met through shared hobbies as running and active involvement in the community, and some of you have known me a very, very, very long time....
At the beginning of this year, I saw how seemingly solid plans can disperse in the wind in matters of seconds. Over the course of the next months, working through hills of pain, I've learned that in my personal life I am not someone who embraces uncertainty. I like things to be in order. I file documents in colored folders, and I love reorganizing my closet, drawers and kitchen cabinets (pictures actually exist) on a regular basis. But in my professional life, I have learned to accept and adapt to uncertainty. 

Kafka wrote a parable "Before the law" about a man who waited a lifetime in front of a door, hoping to gain entrance. Right before his death, he questions the guard why although everyone seeks the law, no one has come in all the years. To which the guard answers: "This gate was made only for you. No one else could ever be admitted here. I am now going to shut it." Too often we wait in front of doors, thinking someone else surely will take the lead. For the last few months I found myself stuck with what probably will be a life-changing decision. Flip-flopping, probably tugging on some friends' and family heart strings too much, and hoping that a previously formed plan will be back in play, it was a close friend who finally persuaded me. "Colleen, for as long as I have known you, you never let an open door close on you, without walking through it."
The shift from thinking "I'm not ready to do that" to thinking "I want to do that - and I'll learn by doing it" takes us to new doors. We meet it with some measure of trepidation, some fear. Are we on target? Do we have what it takes to finish strong? Will our training be sufficient? Are we prepared for the obstacles? Maybe part of why I run is to find out what I am up against.

I love new beginnings, second chances, springing forward and falling back on the clock, accepted apologies, personal records, and journals full of blank pages. I love not knowing and the curiosity of wanting to find out: Moments that change a finish line into a starting line.  
I will be starting law school this fall. With that comes change, new beginnings and some ends. While I will try to keep you all updated, please forgive me if I drop off the radar for awhile. 

I hope life treats you well, wherever you are.

Butterfly dreams

Dreams are butterflies
Floating the skies
She's been collecting all her life.
From close and from afar 
Pressed into words they are
He wants to know where they go.
What if someone only dreams of you?
I know I do. 
She holds another butterfly
In the palm of her hand
Someday you'll understand
We both already are 
Pressed words.
Two names, two lives
Floating high in the skies.

© Colleen Yorke. All rights reserved. 2016.

Hairy Issues


I have always wanted to write about hair. Tales, myths and legends have been spun about hair. They are trademark of rebellious children's heroes such as Pippi Longstocking, the Red Zora or Struwwelpeter, inspirations for songs and fairy tales such as the golden hair of Raputzel, the red glowing hair of Ariel the Mermaid and the black, shiny hair of Desdemona or document social upheavals such as the bob or the long hippie hair.

Hair shapes and transforms us, gives us reassurance and the feeling of being in the “in crowd.” Anything is possible, anything goes: Nowadays, men wear their hair short or long; they have a pony tail, some are bald. The spike of punk scene crowns the heads of office employees. Hair trends establish social conventions: African-American rap stars cultivate their iconic dreadlocks, some Japanese youngsters wear wigs, dye their hair pink or bleach-blond. There is probably no culture that is completely indifferent towards hair.

Those with straight hair want curls, the color gray triggers a mid-life crisis. And what about people who have natural curly hair?
When I wake up in the morning and moan about my disheveled and shaggy lion's mane, my sister shakes her head. Her smooth hair, carefully combed and fixed into position each morning, does not fare well with wind or rain. The visit to the hairdresser, a thorny issue: Only one person is allowed near Vanessa’s hair, and every move is watched through the salon mirror. For me, however - whether rain, sun or snow - my hair is dancing in smooth curls around my head. Even the hairdresser is looking forward to cut my curly hair, he proudly presents his work to his colleagues: "This is how a perm should look, but never does."
© Colleen Yorke. All rights reserved. 2016

Water Under the Bridge

It's water under the bridge
And it breaks a solid dam.
This is a land of few words.
We got our guns,
And our get away cars.
We remain on the run.
Until we meet our shadow
In the mirror of a friend.
Choose your battles.
Change comes at dawn.

© Colleen Yorke. All rights reserved. 2016.





Meeting Point of Two Lives

To know how to get close
To find you
After all this time
To know when to let go.
Meeting point of two lives.
No, it isn't strange.
After change upon change
We are more or less the same
After change we are more or less the same
I don't have to explain.
I am older than I once was
Younger than I'll be.
And you, you are still the same.

© Colleen Yorke. All rights reserved. 2016.

The Door in the Floor

There is a road.
It carries quite a load.
Some have traveled here before
Hoping to find the blue door.
She is all the great heroines
Of the world in one.
She holds the secret of their lives,
Vivid and obscure at once.
They are smitten
Something lives there
Their story is written
But nobody knows where.
Somebody got close.
He claims he saw his soul.
How far do you want to go?
The young man  - although
He was close
He was not ready
To let go.
Could he give up
Everything he knows
To see what the blue door shows?
And what would happen 
If he got back on the road?
Most have lost their way. 
So close!
But for what price?
She smiled as you smile now
They have gone down into the depths
You led them there.
The door in the floor
Shows herself to only a few.

© Colleen Yorke. All rights reserved. 2016.

Checkmate

Game of black and white
Chase of shadow and light
Two lefts don't make a right
Situations, complications, constellations
Steering clear of direct confrontations
Underestimation leads to intimidation.
The white queen can take the black rook
We are long past the rules of the book.
Your reputation is compromised
Don't look so surprised
You can't tame a wild thing 
I am taking your king.

© Colleen Yorke. All rights reserved. 2016.

Words

Some words are nothing more than
Complicated hybrids of emotions.
Repetitious variations of
Germanic train car constructions.
To go forward you have to come back
Where you began.
One thing leads to another,
And sometimes
One thing leads to nowhere at all.
Arrested and overawed attention.
Did I mention
"Selfie" made it word of the year?
Not yet, perhaps not here,
But in the end, and somewhere like this.
That is what it means…
Communication gone mute.
Our lives contain multitudes.
Arms stretching farther and farther
To encompass more people, more life...
Out of curiosity, of imagination, of love.
Can you see me?
All of me?
Probably not.
No one has.

 © Colleen Yorke. All rights reserved. 2016.

Red Corn Roses

Homage to a friend and a teacher:
Dots of red corn roses
Sketching happiness in doses
Wonders of life under your spell
You taught us well 
The stories you fed
The strangers you met
The face they couldn’t forget
Words and words
Line after line
Stroke by stroke
You took note
To speak what no one hears
To write what no one reads,
To retouch a life seized
In black and white
To recolor
Piece by piece.
You played your part
In a lifetime captured by art. 
© Colleen Yorke. All rights reserved. 2016.

Private Property

This is the city
Of angels and broken wings.
Lost souls and too many things.
There is no world
With windows wide enough
For what they see.
There is no future good enough
For what they can be. 
A crumpled piece on the streets
This is private property
Do not trespass
This niche in between
Worlds of what is and what can be.
A heap of a life
Folded underneath.
Every day they are trying
To beat the odds.
Looking for shelter
Underneath the tree of gods.
 Lost souls holding on
To what is already gone
Finding a place
They can call home
A space amidst
The cracks
They can't walk back.
Finding comfort
In what they are afraid of
They go and live there.

© Colleen Yorke. All rights reserved. 2016.




Smoke Signals

Somewhere out there
A 1000 miles down the road,
Above the reflecting kaleidoscope,
Floats a secret code 
Communicating to you and you alone.
In another dimension
And time
Smokey rings intertwine,
Lifting your answer to the skies.

© Colleen Yorke. All rights reserved. 2016.



The Dream of a Child

There is a child
Who goes forth every day
Discovering life in his own way.
The horizon's edge,
Every cubic inch of space,
He dreams in his dream 
The dreams of other dreamers.
Choosing a smile 
For all that remains
Unexplained.
 Innocent and yet so wild
The simple dream of child.

© Colleen Yorke. All rights reserved. 2016.
  
All names, characters, and incidents portrayed in this blog are fictitious. No identification with actual persons, places, buildings, and products is intended or should be inferred. © All rights reserved.