Riches and Rhymes

The Poetry and Writing of Janis Gaines

Category: Poetry

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


Heavy With My Heart

Heavy with my heart
in tow, trailing a few steps
behind me –
My god, what did you eat?
What did you breathe in that you
could not breathe out?
What gravity did forsake
and cause your fall?
What vile depravity did
inject, like a virus that your
soul couldn’t fight?

No matter, I will
carry you. I will bear the weight,
the burden, the deformity.
I will not forsake but cover
the wounds with feathers
and soft cloth,
Careful not to re-injure the
cancerous cell that has turned on you.

I will sing songs to you and not forget
the beauty of your former days, and
make music like medicine. Like a
mensch, I hold my vow in
place. I will not forsake.

I will keep the lifeline steady,
my heavy heart.


© January 4, 2016
Tryon, NC

A Torrid Truth

You talk to me with a straight face
And pretend to tell me the truth
But the story from the left side of your mouth
Doesn’t match the right
You relay the hard facts
Without so much as a tremble
Somehow your voice is too nimble
And I’m on to you
You’re ready with the trite word and phrase
But I’m still left in a haze
Of disbelief
You can say it again and again
And I’ll repeat your words if you want me to
But I know the truth
The underbelly of the danseuse
Is scantily clad in lace and bright rags
And though you have mad gyrations to distract me
A verbiage of smoke and mirrors
I can clearly see
A vulnerability
A mark, a plain truth

Don’t try to hide
After all, the world will know
When you have passed out drunk
On your own urine


© September 11, 2015
Asheville, NC

This poem was inspired by listening to the replay of the 9/11 news tapes (“9/11: As It Happened”). Some of the reporters were too composed at times and often changed their wording, their story. I remember thinking years ago when this event first happened that the whole news system was too quick and too unified to announce a “war on terror,” as if it had been pre-scripted, pre-planned. I, personally, believe there is so much controversy surrounding the whole event; I don’t believe everything that we’ve been told. The image of the dancing girl is a metaphor for the whole political system. We are often seduced and entertained, even as we are being lied to. This poem ended a little darker than I had expected, but once I’m that far into a poem, they typically write themselves and that seemed to be what needed to be said. Also, I almost wanted to write “a plane truth” but decided it might be too cheesy. It’s probably not obvious from the rest of the poem that this is what it’s about. Ultimately, I think it can have broader applications for anyone who has ever felt conned.

Day 4: Identify Your Audience

cropped-seal_v2-04I’m participating in Blogging University’s Blogging 101 course, sponsored by The Daily Post on WordPress. Each day they give a topic, along with blogging tips. I think I know how to use most of WordPress fairly well, but I’m always looking to refocus and learn new things.

Day 1: Introduce Yourself to the World
Day 2: Title and Tagline
Day 3: Say Hello to the Neighbors
Day 4: Identify Your Audience


So, I’m trying something new today. I’m excited to think I have learned something new already — thanks, WordPress! I’m using a shortcode to create a list of poems all with the topic (tag) of love; directions and examples here and here. These are two different codes. An interesting note: I used the same word “love” in both shortcodes, but the lists are completely different; not sure why.

I think this is a great way to compile a list without having to do it manually. If you’ve tagged your posts well, then this is a real time saver! I thought this would be a neat, new way for my audience to see who I am and what I generally write about at a quick glance. I think I like the paragraph blurbs best. Which one do you prefer? The short, simple list or the longer preview style?

  • That Mistake - I saw that mistake you made That flub for all to see How embarrassing to turn pink From cheek to cheek You should have been there But you weren’t You let people down Who were counting on you You knew And now everyone gives you that look For that mistake you made That one mistake […]
  • Taking Up Arms - I’m taking up arms Against all the world’s harms And holding the flag of victory High enough for all to see So many fallen by my side And yet faith, hope, and love abide Shouting loud and standing strong Believing truth will right the wrong Opposing love comes at a cost But Love will gather […]
  • Climbing Jacob’s Ladder - Angelic tones Ascending and descending From here to there And back again A love song from my friend Soft-spoken and beckoning He says, “Come” In every language ever known to man And while I can’t make out all the heavenly tones I am swept away in the symphony of sound So readily transported and transparent […]
  • Dance - My fingers danced on the keyboard With lightening speed and grace Beauty, capturing time in space But they skipped a step tonight And couldn’t make sense or word Out of all the jumbles there And every rhythm of love composed Every mental measure and beat Fell dormant at the pretty dancer’s feet © March 31, […]
  • Fall Down - Fall down water from my eyes Holy father, hear my cries Fall down chin upon my breast Till the last sin is confessed Fall down knees too weak to stand Dependent on my father’s hand Fall down flat, face to floor My broken spirit please restore Fall down mercy from above Evidence of a matchless […]
  • Heartbeat - Heart beats open Beats closed Red rhythm of my soul Beats open Beats closed Center of the whole Beats open Beats closed Life flows through Beats open Beats closed From me to you Beats open Beats closed Tender words embrace Beats open Beats closed Rhythms full of grace Beats open Beats closed Constant come and […]
  • I Wish - I wish I could’ve told you so And made you believe All the things that meant so much All the love received All the gifts and lavish graces Alive and living on Though you walk a different path Seeking a new dawn And you’ll find it cause you’re you And have so much more than […]
  • Journey Onward - Journey onward Take my hand I’ll lead you homeward To the Promised Land No need to worry No need to fear I am your lover And I am right here So won’t you…take my hand, You know I understand the pain you’ve been through Don’t turn and walk away Don’t lose the faith that brought […]
  • Let’s Skip the Moonlight Tonight - Let’s skip the moonlight tonight And forsake its bright beams To find greater light In each other’s dreams Let’s skip the moonlight tonight Fair prince among stars For the love in the sky On earth can be ours Let’s skip the moonlight tonight And burn candles instead While you sing to me softly As we […]
  • Love Never Fails - Waiting here so patiently I hear him say so quietly “I paid the price for your sorrow” The work I do is to believe The fruit of faith I will receive And walk with my head high into tomorrow The love of God never fails So welcome all the wood and nails Let them hammer […]
  • My Beloved - You are my beloved You shall be my bride You are my beloved I want you by my side You are my beloved I have chosen you You are my beloved And all you have to do …is believe in my love, my love Receive my love, my love I want you here, I want […]
  • One Tear - One tear, two tear, three tear, four And I will offer many more Though I break and though I bend I know that tears are not the end Though love may tarry and healing same I bear a mighty Savior’s name And Him I trust with all of me With wrestled faith of a mustard […]
  • Paintbrush - You have turned my insides out And colored them in pretty hues The makings of a masterpiece How could I refuse? The touch of a brush with a palette of paint With richness I’ve never seen You have washed all the gray and dark colors away And have painted a much fairer scene Full of […]
  • Placebo - I didn’t know where we were going When I took your hand And led you down this slippery slope Only that slipping was a release From that steady place you hated so much And sliding brought relief From being so sure of yourself Finally free falling In tandem And somewhere we found ourselves at the […]
  • Sentiment - It hurt so badly So I erased it all today It was almost gone anyway Faint sounds of laughter and love songs That one thing I forgot to tell you And one thing I wish you’d say No need for it now Precious memories Taken and tossed away Plundered by another Like thieves who rob […]

© June 13, 2015
Asheville, NC