Riches and Rhymes

The Poetry and Writing of Janis Gaines

Month: October, 2013

“That was so holy…”


“That was so holy,” he choked through his tears. He was weeping for my pain. Three days earlier a man had broken into my home in the middle of the night and raped me at gunpoint. And yet, on Sunday, I was at the Vineyard Airport Church in Nashville, dancing before the Lord with great passion and abandon, truly grateful to be alive and free to worship that way. Normally, I and a few other women would dance, unobtrusively, sometimes with banners, in the back of the auditorium. This wasn’t about being seen, but about loving Him, expressing it, feeling it — heart, soul, mind, and strength. For me, it was always about victory.

But on this Sunday, the worship leader had called the dancers to the front. And afterwards, this man approached me. He honored me with his words and with his tears. For a moment, he bore my burden, one that would become heavier over the ensuing weeks and years as the aftermath of rape would prove to be just as rude and merciless as the act. In time and through circumstances, I no longer danced. I had to learn again how to live in the world and trust God, and only just recently has dance returned to me — in baby steps.  When I remember that time, now so long ago, I am encouraged by his words that spoke life to me that day, unexpectedly, sacredly, reminding me that my life matters. That was so holy.

*** I shared this post with my friend today and he said this, which honors me all over again: Yes, i remember very well. Such extraordinary freedom in your refusal to be devastated by hell itself. Thank you, Jonathan, you have a way with love and words. ~ Janis

© October 18, 2013
Asheville, NC


Death by Default

Weekly Writing Challenge: Living History
What was the most depressing (or uplifting) news item you’ve seen recently?
Why did you react so strongly to it?

Last night on Facebook I read this story about the death of Philip Marshall and his two teenage children. While this happened back in February, this is the first I had heard about it. Apparently, Marshall had worked for the government as a pilot and had some inside knowledge about the corruption that goes on behind the scenes AND he had written about it (find his work on Amazon). The police are calling the deaths a murder-suicide, but conspiracy theorists believe otherwise, and I tend to agree.

Either way, regardless of political persuasion or cause, two beautiful, innocent children are dead. It is so sad to see these young people with such hope and promise have their lives ended too soon — through no fault of their own. Did they take the heat on behalf of a brave father who dared to speak his mind? A selfless man, willing to put his life on the line for the sake of truth and the good of all. Or were they the victims of a selfish father’s weak moment? A man who caved to fear, anger, or some other unknown darkness. Either way, it is death by association…death by default.

I’ve been reading To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee with my high school English class. It’s a classic and for good reason. The title comes from a statement in the book that devoted lawyer and father Atticus makes, explaining to his kids that it is wrong to kill something that is innocent or harmless, like a mockingbird. Or like these two precious young people: Alex, 17, and Macaila, 14. It is a lesson our culture, our government, still needs to learn. As Hemingway once said, borrowing lines from poet John Donne, “Any man’s death diminishes me because I am involved in Mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” Death by default is the worst death of all. How many more Americans await a similar, senseless fate?


The Morning After…


The sun shone through the cracks of the curtains like it was any other day. Outside I could see the familiar shapes of trees and landscape, the neighbor’s house across the street. I lay in bed, unable to move. I was at once both empty and angry. I had nothing left to say in my fight with fate who had taken my lover from me far too soon. Grief had poisoned me, and yet if I could raise my voice, my fist, I would blot out the sun, erase the arrogance of anything that mocks the vacant place beside me, this sacred space where her shape was so familiar. Her scent is still on the pillows, and I inhale her like a deaf and blind mute, with no other senses left to discern what is real any more.

© October 15, 2013
Asheville, NC

Dear Emily

Dear Emily,

I get it.
Enough with the limelight,
The who’s who, what’s what
And who cares?

Some drown in the deep,
But I lose myself in the shallows,
The cares and affairs of a temporal bliss
All meaningless.

I would rather stoke the fire of mystery
And the flame of all things eternal,
Slip my fingers through the thin veil
Between here and the after life,
Tiptoe right up to the edge of time
And find myself on the other side
Where all wear white.

Some think it strange
That you would steal away
The day in your room,
Yet what better company to keep
Than one’s own whispered heartbeat?

You are not a cold stone
But a rare gem
With ears to hear
And eyes to see

If you’re receiving guests in the drawing room
At this late hour,
I would much delight in taking audience with thee
Perhaps turn a feathered phrase
With some honey in my black tea.
Or perhaps repose in seamless silence
With divinity.

Dear Emily,
I get it.









© October 9, 2013
Asheville, NC