Riches and Rhymes

The Poetry and Writing of Janis Gaines

Category: Poetry

Coma

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
Me
Again…
In and out.

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© August 11, 2017
Atlanta, GA

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Kites and Time

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

let-s-go-fly-a-kite-sunday-may-25th-from-11-00-am-12-00-pm-CYmeiX-clipart.jpg

© 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?

Question_why

© April 6, 2017
Tryon, NC

Breadcrumbs

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.

hanesel-pebbles

© February 7, 2017
Tryon, NC

Willow

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.

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© 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
2016

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

rainbow-over-lake

© February 10, 1989
Searcy, Arkansas

Toss A Penny

Toss a penny in my ear
And let the clink!
Echo
Down
Deep
Where
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

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© 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.

heavyheart

© 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

belly-dancer2

© September 11, 2015
Asheville, NC

***A NOTE ABOUT THIS PIECE***
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.