how beautiful earth this night

cornstalks sway in midsummer breeze

rows of tomatoes ripe for harvest

farmers dog barks again and again

waits for his echo to weave in and out

rain clouds spill shadows on wet sheets

I left outdoors on my clothesline

won’t be tomorrow for awhile

come sit with me under the shade tree

her leaves a canopy for old lovers

when summer leans toward spring

put your head in my lap

I’ll rub your back

until you fall asleep

in the hope

you wake up



© 2020 Jennifer Brookins

this morning I found myself braided into your snowy white beard; wonderful to be so inconspicuous. The chill of winter months makes me wonder if spring will ever announce her arrival. Should you confide, “It’s already here,” I’ll whisper in your ear, “Beloved Nomad Ji, you created dawn in your spare time.

© 2020 Jennifer Brookins


When I sowed apple seeds, apples did I reap, thistles planted,
cyclops harvested. I am the unsung architect of my tomorrows, sculpting my destiny moment by moment, planting and harvesting, …planting and harvesting. How fruitless to arm extend into the future.

© 2020 Jennifer Brookins

dear sparrow

each morning I watch you

sitting alone

on a telephone pole

rain or shine

today I purchased

lumber to build 

you the finest birdhouse

with a red front porch

yellow umbrella

can sit under

have afternoon tea

I want to know everything

about you

how flying in the clouds

makes you blasé

about things

you cannot change

why you prefer aloneness

to chit -chat

why you never worry

about tomorrow

or where

your next meal comes from

let us have lunch today

I’ve much to learn

from you

© 2020 Jennifer Brookins

slow thaw of winter snow bougainvilleas eagerly await spring no matter how veiled her balancing act more seasons to witness Oh Weaver Ji you gift your hardest battles to your strongest warriors a lion waits in my gathering place that need be tamed it is to that divine drop of you I sing I kiss your belly full of divine secrets waiting to be cracked open

© 2020 Jennifer Brookins

Time douches the bloom off a cheating rose

An excerpt from Tharon Ann – a memoir.

I’ve gone from a scrappy kid wondering when I’d get to China digging a hole in the backyard with a spoon, to being a Hollywood starlet, then to Broadway and the high life, to the present. I’m a very pregnant crazy lady with two little kids and ten hours out from a long, hot cross country drive across America in my old Chevy. I can’t sleep for all the memories running through my head. If there was ever a time for a mind boggling quote from Dylan or a sobering passage from Moby Dick, that rambling classic with a point I never quite grabbed by the tail – this is it. Oh, and just in case I forget to mention it, with so much going on and all, my future looks like zip, and what really happened to J.D. Salinger?
The big day is here. Insomnia is driving my mind nuclear
reliving every piece of minutia from my birth to the present. It’s 3:00 a.m. and I can’t sleep. I’ve cried so much, I’m alarmed at the amount of snot one person can lie in without being glued to the pillow. How did it all come to this? Seems like only yesterday, I was a rising Broad- way actress with successes under my belt. I can still hear the knock on my dressing room door, the stage manager giving me the last call, “Showtime Jennifer! It’s a packed house tonight.” As usual, I’m so terrified before going on, I can’t remember the first line. But the moment I step onstage, my jitters long gone, I vanish into character and I’m fine. It’s make believe time. The thrill of playing before a live audience is better than dope. I’ll be driving straight through the Mojave Desert from LA to New Jersey, no doubt my three year old kicking the back of my seat all the way asking, “Are we there yet? Mommy, I have to go.” If Romie kicks hard enough, with my luck I’ll go into labor and have this baby next to a cactus. I can’t sleep for stressing over the future – no husband, no money, no job, bills to pay and three kids to raise. How will I do it? All these years I’ve supported myself as an actress. What am I supposed to do – squat on the sidewalk and sell pencils out of a shoe box? My choice is either fall back into my old, destructive ways or wrap myself around a future I know nothing of. Being clueless at thirty is a bitch.
Why cry over the “Sperm Donor?” He makes love like shoveling spaghetti with both hands. Lots of women have husbands who cheat. You could monitor how often they drop their pants by putting a metronome up their ass. They don’t fall apart like me. The ones I know marry wealthy men, and find it convenient to ignore their over active libidos. They compensate by shopping on Rodeo Drive until they pass out, then to spring shows in Paris, then to Milan, having affairs along the way, and thanking God for revolving credit. For some men, the more submissive the wife and mother, the less appealing she is as a woman; the sexual attraction and challenge no longer exists. Like a hound chasing a fox: hound chases fox, hound catches fox, hound kills fox, hound hunts for another fox. The Sperm Donor is never home. I doubt he even knows how fast the kids are growing.
I closed our joint bank account today. What I took is barely enough for this trip, the hospital bill and rent for a small apartment once we arrive in New Jersey. That’s if we make it to New Jersey. Just saying those two words makes me run for Imodium, and what’s wrong with me? I always make the same mistake – jump first, and look afterwards.
I’m home late tonight. I worked overtime on a Gunsmoke. Thanks to Arness it took forever to hear, “It’s a wrap!” This house looks like a tornado just passed through, popcorn all over the floor, the kids eating Wheaties out of a box, and our latest addition, my husband’s five year old from a previous marriage racing from room to room wearing a Batman cape, his school uniform still not washed for tomorrow. The Sperm Donor is sprawled out on the couch watching Mod Squad, oblivious of the circus going on in front of him. Working all day, then coming home to a nightmare like this would push anyone over the edge. Some things never change. I shift to high, make dinner, wash and iron Willie’s uniform for tomorrow, and do a quick tidy-up. Afterwards, I bathe the boys and tuck them in for the night, knowing full well they won’t go to sleep unless I read to them. I sit on the edge of the bed, and begin the next chapter of Wind In the Willows. They love the Badger. I still have ten pages of new dialogue to memorize for tomorrow, get five hours of sleep, be at the studio at 6:00 a.m. in makeup, and pray to God I don’t have bags down to the floor. I can’t keep up this
pace. If I don’t step back from my career our home life will be in
worse shape than now. There’s not enough room for two careers in this family. Let him have it. It’s what he wants.
Something is wrong.How long does it take to answer a simple question, and what’s wrong with me that I can’t confront him? The two of us stand in this small kitchen that looks out over the mountain, his back facing me as he pours himself a second cup of coffee when I finally say, “You leave mornings, and don’t come home until dawn.” Moments of silence pass. He continues to sip his coffee and stare down at the floor before he finally turns around, his dark eyes focused into mine and replies matter-of-factly, “I don’t love you anymore. I’m done.”
My response is frozen in silence that so reverberates in my ears that I’m deafened to its clamor. My breath pushes me to smart-ass, flippant silent retorts, “You’re done? What about me and the kids? Are we done too? When you leave the house each morning, I make you a brown-bag lunch with fresh banana bread sandwiches, the crusts cut off the way you like. My paycheck goes to you after every job. I’ve all but given up my career for you. We have two children, another on the way, and now you say you’re done?” I listen to my unspoken thoughts coming through this mealy-mouthed person I hardly recognize. I’m unable to speak because there are no words left to come right out and say, “How many hours can one man spend at the Actor’s Studio? I know damn well what you’re doing and who you’re doing it with.”
The Sperm Donor wastes no time describing his passionate feel- ings for her, and the futility of living one more second trapped in a loveless marriage. He talks to me like I’m not in the room, and explains in great detail how good it is to finally let it all out, that he’s not the type man to live in shadows. I can’t catch my breath … I’ll stop breathing if he doesn’t shut up. Still unable to speak, I grab both kids by their hands and run along the narrow, weathered path alongside Aunt Lowee’s house, a brick missing here and there, the smell of Eucalyptus guiding me like a silent friend to the top of the mountain that overlooks dark clouds of gray smog hovering over East Los Angeles. I can’t stop crying for the uncertainty of our future, for having wasted so much of my life, for the baby growing inside me, and for Willie, his five year old son who just came to live with us and misses his grandparents.
Several weeks ago, he mumbled something about a new project he was working on with some actress at the Actor’s Studio West. When I asked about her, he casually mentioned a name I immediately recognized. The exact same feelings of rage and jealousy welled up in me again, precisely the same as I had experienced twelve years ago. As soon as I heard her name, I knew I’d lost him … and remembered the first time I saw her face.
Twelve years earlier in Hollywood, long before I moved to New York and met the Sperm Donor, a friend gave me an article he’d cut out of the newspaper about a beautiful actress who worked in Elvis Presley films, as well as B-movies. It showed her photograph along with details of a large sum of money she inherited. It wasn’t the money. It was the recognition of her face that filled me with jealousy, feelings out of proportion to the situation. So many times I’ve asked myself why I reacted like that to someone I didn’t know. She looked like every other starlet in Hollywood, as opposed to me who was somewhat offbeat compared to the Barbie Doll look of the sixties. I threw the paper back and snapped, “This has nothing to do with me.” Ironically, as quickly as those feelings of anger entered my psyche, that’s how fast they left. That incident still puzzles me. Perhaps my reaction was a premonition of events to come – although I’m not into crystal gazers, psychics, telemarkers hawking spirituality, fake gurus and all the other scams to support their mansions. What difference does it make now?
I’m beginning to sound like those women in supermarket tabloids next to the check-out. If it’s a long wait, I’ll take one off the rack and give it a quick look. If I read about one more female who attempts suicide over a failed marriage, I’ll pull the plug on myself. I can’t stand whiners yet much as I hate to admit it, that’s what I’ve become.
“Yeah you are, so shut up!”
“I’m not. Am I?”
“Does a bear pee in the woods?
“What kind of man abandons a pregnant wife and two kids?” “The one you married stupid, now shut the hell up!”
“How will we live? I have no money.” “Stop watching As the World Turns.”
It’s as though two people live inside me. One like sand in an hour glass, moment by moment drained of self-worth, crawling through
each day begging to be punished for everything I’ve ever done in my
life. But the other more predominant one is a hard-edged, spirited fighter who laughs her way out of every impossible predicament.
Dammit, I may cry, I may bitch but I won’t fall under the train. There’s got to be more to life than getting married and having babies
– even a career. I remember having a close friendship with a powerful presence as a child, but somewhere along the way I lost it and I don’t know why. I’m fighting for my life, for that lost girl I only vaguely remember; one buried so deep, I fear she may never be resurrected. I fight not to fall into the depths of a mental abyss so intense, I might never recover; the ugly face of ambition rides me like a horse frothing at the mouth. Three lives depend upon rising from this quagmire of self-loathing to reinvent the person I began life with. I still talk to a God I can’t see, and I still can’t shut up. I know there is something powerful in me, something outside myself, otherwise how could I have survived the past thirty years?
Where’s my damn tissue? Blowing my nose is the only constant in my life. I always feel secure in one good blow on anything outside of my Hermes, God forbid.
Dear God, Dorothy, Sam or whatever your name is,
May I shake your hand for giving us Oil of Olay and Kleenex, or do you prefer Puffs? Store brand? And the big winner hands down is … ta dah: Puffs
Sincerely lost in East LA … P.S: Need sleep fast

Sleeping in the Cradle of God

An excerpt from India with Backpack and a Prayer

I have big days and small days. Today is a small day. I woke up this morning with my throat feeling like sandpaper. Nevertheless, I walk to morning satsang, and afterwards to the shed to make chapattis, peel garlic, and chop cilantro with other women.

Sadna’s bone structure reminds me of women in the days of Caesar. She wears an Indian style scarf on her head, covering a mane of hair so raven-black it has blue highlights. She is quite beautiful in her own way. Sadna is at once shy, mischievous, and tough. Indian women have no problem showing affection if they like you. I recall something Maharaj Ji said about the differences between Indian and American families. He could spend two hours talking to satsangies in an American home, and leave without knowing anything about them. On the other hand when he visits Indian homes, he knows everything in five minutes. Sadna’s responsibility is no small job as she begins early each morning. She usually sits next to me to make sure I make each chapatti just right. We find a way of communicating; sometimes we chat through a translator, other times through mime. Doug says we are totally outrageous. I tease Sadna, “God forbid you don’t have your daily chapatti.” She wears an Indian style scarf on her head, covering a mane of hair so raven-black it has blue highlights. She is quite beautiful in her own way.

Chapatti to an Indian is chicken soup to a Jew. She laughs then answers, “Ja thade li ek Coke.”

Translation: Or Coke to you.

What I wouldn’t give for one about now. I’ll miss her when we leave.

A busload of 125 village people just arrived in a covered truck to lend a hand in the brickyard. They come only for the love of Baba Ji. Their lives are simple, and their acceptance of whatever he gives them is much appreciated. They love doing seva because they know who Baba Ji is. They are simple folks with a deep understanding of this Mystic path. I love being around them. By afternoon I have a full blown cold, sore throat, fever, and a nose that honks every five minutes. I vaguely remember telling Doug I needed ten minutes to rest. Maybe I’m having a dream, but call me crazy if there’s not a carload of kids in our room all whispering shhhhhhhh, and thanking him for the do-dads he bought them. Omg, they want to give me my daily Punjabi lesson. Doug tells them it really isn’t the time. While all this is going on, I begin to daydream about an elderly Indian woman I saw this morning tying rupees in her chuny* same as my grandma used to do. They lived in a poor Mexican neighborhood where the ice cream truck came by daily in hot summer months. My grandpa would yell from the other room, “Lily, loosen up the change from your apron. Some of those little “peckerwoods” out there don’t have money for ice cream. You know the ones.

At 5:00 my fever breaks. I bundle up and sit in the garden drinking a cup of chai Shanti makes for me. I marvel at how these flowers grow in winter. It’s no mystery Indian roses bloom in cold weather for Baba Ji. Summer heat is ungodly, monsoon very wet, and Punjabi winters cold. These people survive with no complaints. By the time we walk upstairs to see Baba Ji, my nose is a small leak compared to the waterfall this afternoon.

These people take each day as it comes by saturating themselves with service to Baba Ji. In so doing, they don’t have time to worry about security down the road. They laugh, they work hard, they love their children, and keep their focus on Baba Ji. As a result, they get more out of life. I’ll keep them close to my heart after we say our last goodbyes.

Lioness Mother ….a short story

Her wayward cub never listened to mystic counsel. He thought himself more clever, more surefooted and never viewed his reflection in the lake. Early mornings when dawn spread her wings over the forest, lioness mother slammed the arrogant cub against tree trunks to offer him a wake-up call. The young cub never heeded her warnings and continued to stray into the dark, perilous forest to play with monkeys, lizards; even reptiles. He ignored the suffering she endured to protect him. As lioness mother grew older, her magnificent coat lost it’s luster; her gentle paws roamed no more. As she grew weaker still, even mother earth was saddened by the loss of her benign step. Early one midsummer morning he nestled his head within the curve of her warm underbelly, as was his custom to wait for mother to welcome a new day. However, this morning her roar was silence and the beat of her heart no more. The young lion was beside himself. He reflected on his years of bad behavior; unreceptive to her mighty roar. He even tried slamming himself against tree trunks but that didn’t help; instead, he got a headache. His heart was so grief stricken, he could not lean on his brothers and sisters. They had become strangers. That is when the old lion sought refuge in the wooded depths. Many years later, a great he-lion stumbled across the lost one. He looked deep into the thicket at what appeared to be a mole curled up into a ball entangled in clinging vines. He cocked his head to one side and inquired, “Have you gazed into the lake today?” Filled with remorse, he couldn’t open his eyes but whispered to the stranger, “I have never ventured to the lake as instructed by mother.” The he-lion replied softly, “Well then, time to get up. Let us proceed to the lake and reflect.” Ever so gently, he disentangled him from the clinging vines and briars. The he-lion’s tone had a calming affect on him for there was a command in his roar reminiscent of lioness mother. He slowly stood up and dutifully followed. When they reached their destination, he looked at his reflection long and hard. What he saw in the lake startled him: his childhood was gone, rather, his body was that of an old raggedy lion whose coat had no sheen and the tuft under his chin knotted and white. Worse still, his steady flow of tears had carved deep ravines below his eyes where the fur had washed away. He had grown old without knowing it. Where had his life gone? He began to remember the early years when he strutted about thinking himself immortal. Suddenly the old lion was overwhelmed, not so much for what he saw but for the unseen; not so much for what he thought he knew, but for what he didn’t know. After this disconcerting interlude he began trotting behind the he-lion as he always did with mother. One day strange things began to unfold. Spontaneous awakenings were gifted him … like a universe of fireflies playing tiddle de winks. He began to view the monkey world as a strange land, himself a stranger in it, when a wonderful thing happened. The old lion found a treasure that lioness mother had hidden long ago for him to discover at just the right time: the yearning seed. His old fun-loving ways now replaced by a longing to reside in the Great Lion consciousness. This was no small feat because the great he-lion brooked no nonsense, especially when he stepped on land mines. He realized the he-lion had simply picked up where lioness mother left off. The old lion began to wonder what would be left of him when slammed against tree trunks once again. However, the he-lion had a different, albeit more subtle, way to drive home his point. He exposed the old lions flaws in the mirror of his heart thereby raising the stakes each time a gauntlet was thrown to the ground; an ancient teaching method which few stayed around long enough to benefit. Many moons witnessed the old lion listening to the sounds of early morning when he slow-walked to the lake each day. Lioness mother had taught him to listen. After so many years, he finally remembered her counsel: “Dear heart please listen. If you can do this, you’ll be less of a stranger to yourself.” Some mornings the old lion can hear raindrops turn into icicles and blades of grass bow their heads to the Great Lion Consciousness. © 2020 Jennifer Brookins

I sit in the great spring outdoors, my heart buried in snow
hot torrid summer comes; I’m still buried in snow
If there was a way out I would take it, at least I tell myself so
I remain a prisoner of what I know but cannot see
I asked my human heart what happened that it’s become so stingy …”it isn’t words I hear but your thoughts that color you in ambiguity” …time to play the violin again
Oh Weaver, will you catch me if I fall from this path of grace you carved narrow as a razors edge. I’ve grown old searching for you; living on virgin fizz, of dreams and castles,collection plates for some formless god. You found me sleeping in a church pew craving cigarettes and wine. I gave up my wild ways; promised to meditate each morning though I preferred sleep. Early today as dawn colors our tree line, I received another wind song penned on my bedroom window
“You are mine … I am yours”
My soul now wraps around your honey self in ancient ways that cannot be broken, woolen shawl wrapped around my shoulders
I have no say in matters of the heart

© 2020 Jennifer Brookins

this foggy winter morning I hear a 3-string quartet
of aged priests playing the cello to “Baby it’s cold outside”
and wonder if it’s you ….. is it? or a bullfrog croaking
the same old tune of moon turned cartwheels on a hot summer day, I could not be more awed than just now placing my shoe inside your footprint that leads me back to you
Oh Weaver Ji, I wait for you under the sweetheart tree

© 2020 Jennifer Brookins