Riches and Rhymes

The Poetry and Writing of Janis Gaines


A silent breath
And again…
In and out.
No noise heard,
But a constant numbing hum.
I check for a pulse —
Steady, regulated blips.
My soul has morphine on drip.
They say it’s better this way.
Too much culture shock
Can kill, so they say
It’s better to stay still.
So please do not disturb
My dreamless, endless sleep
Wake me when
It’s safe to be
In and out.

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© August 11, 2017
Atlanta, GA


Kites and Time

Who has kites and time for this –
To follow every whim and bliss.
Be ready when the wind blows.


© April 6, 2017
Tryon, NC

The One Question

What’s the one question that you need to ask –
The one that you can take to task.
What’s the one question that erases all blame –
The one question that can clear your name.
What’s the one question where mercy lies –
And eliminates need for masks and alibis.
What’s the one question that brings the light –
That conquers fear and ends the fight.
What’s the one question that sets men free –
Whether we’re talking about you or me.
What’s the one question that lets love live –

Can you forgive?


© April 6, 2017
Tryon, NC


I’ve left breadcrumbs on the trail —
On this dark, windy path through the forest,
Where small footprints tread softly.

What were you thinking, really,
Heading that way in the first place?
Like Hansel and Gretel — did you find
Yourself seduced by a glitter-thing and
A sweet treat?
Some fabled fairy tale of freedom?
“Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids.”

When you find yourself in a witch’s
Fun-house of horrors, eat this bread,
And drink this cup
To find your way home.


© February 7, 2017
Tryon, NC


I ran to the wood
To hide in the willow,
Seeking solace
In a cascade of branches;
A soft shelter from storm.

A wispy leaf
Brushes my cheek,
As a single tear slides down
To be buried in the ground,
And I hear a whispered beat.
“Gentle, humble, kind – hey!
Gentle, humble, mind – way.”

I kneel to pat the earth,
To dig my fingers in the dirt —
And to say thank you.
I know my weeping is safe
With thee, sacred tree.


© January 24, 2017
Tryon, NC




A Boy with Freckles

Writing Exercise – Write an embarrassing moment.

I sat in the back of math class, my worst subject. I surely didn’t want the teacher to see me or call on me. I was seventeen, and it was “Spirit Week,” the week before Homecoming at my high school, and every day the students were encouraged to dress in a fun way, different from the norm. One day was Twin Day, or School Colors, or Backwards day. This particular day was Redneck Day. I grew up in the South, a suburb of Atlanta, and this was the home of Jeff Foxworthy during the height of his fame with the “You Might Be A Redneck If…” comedy routine.

On this particular day, a boy sauntered into the room late who fit the challenge to a T. He made a grand entrance with blue jeans, cuffs rolled up, plaid shirt untucked, with a straw hat on. He was even chewing a long, thin reed hanging out the side of his mouth as if he was fresh from the farm.

Impressed with his commitment to the costume, from the back of the room I shouted out for all to hear, ”Wow, look! He’s even added freckles!” I meant to congratulate the guy, yet he gave me an evil side-glance, embarrassed I had called attention to him.

To my horror, as the boy approached his seat, not too far from me, I could clearly see that he had not added freckles, but instead, he had a horrible case of acne.

I wanted to shrink into my chair even further. Now, we were both red in the face. And I wanted nothing more to do with math class.

© November 12, 2016
Spartanburg, SC

Lyla’s Tears

Attending a writer’s workshop today by Suzanne Van Atten with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Given this prompt: Pick an emotion. Write a scene. Can you guess the emotion? This was an exercise in Show vs Tell. 10 min.

Lyla walked to the edge of the riverbank, carrying a small wooden box. This was where they had first met. She had been walking her dog Rufus, and he had asked if he could pet him. Now, five years later, both were gone from her life. Just a year ago she had scattered Rufus’s ashes here, his favorite place. Today she didn’t have ashes but letters, his love letters.

She took them one by one from the box and read them again. She wept at the memories and then tossed them one by one into the river, which would carry her tears away.


©November 12, 2016
Spartanburg, SC

So this came in the mail…


I’ve been speechless for the past week. This was completely unexpected, and I feel quite touched and honored by this gift from Alyssa. She created a beautiful calligraphy piece with a line from one of my personal poems called The Journey. Alyssa, you are a creative writer and artistic talent through and through. Thank you for sharing your gifts with all of us this past school year. This will live in my yoga/art room/library and continue to inspire me for years to come. A thousand thanks! ❤

“For I journeyed to the rainbow’s end
Faith turned to gold, but you, my friend
Are the treasure my heart desires.”


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Poem from a Student

Ms. Gaines,

I’m happy that you’re my teacher;
I enjoy each lesson you teach.
As my role model you inspire me
To dream and to work and to reach.

With your kindness you get my attention;
Every day you are planting a seed
Of curiosity and motivation
To know and to grow and succeed.

You help me fulfill my potential;
I’m thankful for all that you’ve done.
I admire you each day, and I just want to say,
As a teacher, you’re number one!

Thank You for the great year! God Bless 🙂

Jacob Ondrus

The Journey – Original

The Journey
by Janis Gaines

As I was walking one rainy day
I saw a rainbow on my way
As I searched for my heart’s desire

I gazed in awe at its vibrant hue
I knew then what I wanted to do
But the rainbow was far from my reach

For you see, the story is told
Rainbow’s end holds a pot of gold
So I knelt before God and prayed

He sent a stranger passing by
Who grabbed my hand, pointed to the sky
And said, “I’ll help you climb.”

So eagerly with gold in sight
We traveled on with all our might
But it’s hard to climb a rainbow

Along the way my heart grew weary
“God, where’s my gold?” I demanded in fury
And I fell to the earth

Yet by my side the stranger stood
And whispered, “Child, the Lord is good.”
And I believed.

Again the stranger took my hand
As he led me on a walk so grand
And I praised God

For I journeyed to the rainbow’s end
Faith turned to gold, but you, my friend,
Are the treasure my heart desires


© February 10, 1989
Searcy, Arkansas