Riches and Rhymes

The Poetry and Writing of Janis Gaines

Love Rock

I painted this about a month and a half ago. It’s a love rock; two sides of the same rock. The first pic (Love) doesn’t show the glitter finish, but it has it now. Looks more like the flip-side (Destiny). It’s about the size of the palm of my hand.

I had fun painting this – something new and different. And hopeful. I may put it outside, but for now, it sits on an end table in the living room. I was trying to model a similar rock that someone gave me when I first moved to Asheville. It’s smaller and blue; it says believe and the colors are beautiful. I will add a pic of that one soon.

Rocks are everywhere. Would love to paint more and maybe hide them as surprises for others to find or perhaps just give them away as little love gifts.

© March 2, 2016
Tryon, NC


Under a Tree

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I love how this turned out. It was my first painting on canvas. It’s about 16×20. I was also honored to use my sister’s former boyfriend’s paintbrush; the canvas had been a gift from her. Andrew had been an artist and he died unexpectedly several years ago. The painting currently hangs in my sunroom.

I know it’s simplistic and it probably looks like something a five-year-old would do, but I love it. It’s very symbolic and meaningful for me. This has been my screensaver on my phone for the past several weeks.

Would still love to do an art class someday. Maybe soon. 🙂

© March 9, 2016
Tryon, NC

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

Protected: 2015 Year in Review

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Former Student Thanks

Always touched to get these notes…


(edited slightly since this was for two teachers)

Hi, Ms. Gaines!

I just wanted to send this email as a way of saying “thank you.” 
I appreciate so much all the time you invested in me as my English3 teacher. I cannot even begin to express how much that class has helped me. 
My dual credit Federal Government term paper (the one everyone stressed about) seemed a breeze. The ACT and SAT essays, I thought, were fun! Why? Because I had two wonderful TPS English teachers who pushed me to do the arduous work of developing my writing a long time ago. Thank you. 
I’m VERY HAPPY about everything you taught me. Ms. Gaines, this past summer I was able to CLEP Freshman College English.
Thank you SO much! Due to your influence and the abundant grace of God, I have been able to secure 12 college credits by my junior year in high…

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Rape: Victim or Survivor?

Reading tonight on Facebook, and this article about a college girl’s experience dealing with date rape and the labels people use (survivor vs victim) prompted this response from me.

The line that resonated with me from the article was this one: “We ignore the responsibility to help them recover.” In my opinion, the word survivor implies that you’re somehow “over it.” You’ve survived; life moves on. Usually, no visible scars are left, but internal ones may be abundant.

Recovery can take a lifetime. Much like a war veteran may survive violent battles with a terrorist and have lifelong post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), many rape victims/survivors have similar ongoing struggles, and yet their is little acknowledgement, validation, or support for them. It’s still a crime that nobody wants to talk about and few know how to help. What label you use is just semantics. This is a person who lives with an often unshakable grief, unimaginable triggers, and who needs continual love and support. They’ve lived through their own personal terror attack, and life is never quite the same.



More from me on my experience with this topic…

Wishing I Had Cancer – a reflection about my rape experience

“The Boiler Room” – a poem I wrote to express some of my feelings about this experience. This deserves its own extended post someday soon.

“That was so holy…” – another previous reflection I wrote about my rape experience.

Cosmopolitan Magazine Article
This article highlights the some of the details of what happened

Dateline  – “Through the Pouring Rain”
This show features two other survivors of the same attacker; my specific story is not mentioned here.


© November 17, 2015
Tryon, NC


School 2.0

WordPress Prompt from The Daily Post: You get to redesign school as we know it from the ground up. Will you do away with reading, writing, and arithmetic? What skills and knowledge will your school focus on imparting to young minds?


As a teacher for the past 20 years, I have a lot of opinions about education. If I were redesigning school, I would give more attention to the creative disciplines, like art and music, and require less math and science. So much is mandatory to learn that most people will never need or use, like calculus or trig. Instead, I would encourage more practical applications of math and science, money and finance, and health and relationship skills. I think relationship skills should be taught; a counseling class should be mandatory where students are given support to learn to process emotions in a non-destructive way. I also believe in blogging as a way to keep a record of one’s life and learning, to encourage students to take more ownership and pride in their work. So much is just done for a teacher and then dismissed or thrown away, not to be remembered in the future, while blogs can be forever. Blogs can be personal and they inspire a real sense of community, which is often lacking for young people. Blogs start conversations and keep ideas flowing.

I believe students should have more say over what they are learning — more choices about books, subjects, etc. And what if students really had choices about teachers or schools? I dream of creating an educational company that would give teachers the freedom to teach what they want to teach and to do it in the way they do it best without lots of government controls or admin oversight, as well as providing options for students to choose their teachers and course material. I would also design it so that reaching certain levels offers certain rewards, much like video games are structured. There needs to be more fun, freedom, and creativity in the whole learning process.

I believe in apprenticeship more than college, which focuses mainly on book-learning. I believe in travel and community involvement, volunteering. I would incorporate all of these things into the “normal” track for education. I would chunk learning into smaller modules. For example, instead of taking math for a whole year, choose an emphasis for six weeks, and then do something else for a while. Do another math intensive later on. Kids need to be allowed to have more work/like balance if we want them to have it as adults. I would want kids to learn homesteading, self-sufficiency, entrepreneurial skills — if they want to.

I would put less emphasis on formalized testing and more on experiential outcomes. I would model networking. So often in life and in business, it’s who know and who you ARE versus what you know. Anyone can be taught the what if they truly want to learn it; you must have a solid foundation of character to build upon. Less paperwork and hoops for teachers that rob them of their joy and ability to focus on what they really signed up for and what they are truly gifted at. Some big dreams here that may sound far-fetched, but the educational system is definitely due for some big changes. I hope to help lead some of these changes in my life time.

© October 14, 2015
Tryon, NC

To You, From God

To: You

From: God

By BekahM


My darling, My sweetheart, My love, My dear

I am always with you, yes I am always near

My beautiful, My exquisite, My precious work of art

When you smile or when you laugh, so does My heart

My love for you is overwhelming

I am calling out your name

No matter what you do

I will love you just the same

I did not make a mistake, when it was you that I chose

My treasure, My jewel, My child, My rose

I will say it again and again, until you really believe it

I love you, My masterpiece

So please, receive it

My darling, My sweetheart, My love, My dear

I am always with you, so do not ever fear

My beautiful, My exquisite, My precious work of art

My joy, My pearl, we will never be apart.

***NOTE: This poem was written by one of my former students, BekahM. She emailed this to me one random Thursday back in January 2015, and it was so timely as I was beginning a new writing class, which had been a spirit-led decision for me. It really felt like a personal love letter from God. I don’t know if she wrote this just for me, but it sure seemed like it. I was so touched and so grateful. I’ve never had a student do anything like this before or since. This girl is very poetic and musically talented. I hope she keeps writing!

Two-Way Poem


Read it top-to-bottom and then from bottom to top.


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