Riches and Rhymes

The Poetry and Writing of Janis Gaines

Category: Poetry

Wash, Dry, Repeat

When you speak,
There’s green slime
All over my soul,
Except when it’s black
And heavy,
Meant to suffocate me
Here where I stand,
Buried alive.

When I was young,
I would lose my way in this mess
And cry myself to sleep at night,
Wondering why all this darkness
Had happened to me.
I wanted to be free.

And now I know better.
I can be clean of your words
And wash these wounds,
Just as easily as washing my hands
Whenever I choose.

I no longer have to lose myself.
I can love myself
With better words
And brighter colors.
I am loved,
I am worthy.
Wash, dry, repeat.
It doesn’t matter how dark
Or dirty you get;
I am clean.


© July 5, 2018
Tryon, NC





Like Peering Through Glass

Like peering through glass
I see your soul, transparent
In all its kaleidoscope colors
Fine art on display
Onlookers marvel and wonder
How you were made
Like exotic creatures in a cage
And the signs all around say,
“Caution! Do not touch!”


© December 26, 2017
Tryon, NC


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




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

Toss A Penny

Toss a penny in my ear
And let the clink!
My soul keeps
And feeds
For another day

Like a slot machine
I spin another phrase
Heads I win
Tails I lose
You get to choose







© February 23, 2016
Tryon, NC