Mental Illness? or - Salvation                                                               Copyright ©2014 Hazel Gay

Hazel Gay's To Heal the Broken-Hearted

December 1970

The rain’s have come
now winter’s here
all is mist and cool and calm

I breathe the spray through every pore it seems
I taste the fir and walk
cupped in the hands of God’s love

The stretching firs dance, gently,
against the sky
in the light my heart reflects
from a long ago star

If I could only lock the stillness into my soul
that vivid flash of immortality into these thoughts
and direct these words to carry the scene of

Peace on Earth
Goodwill to all men….


May 1971
a day of orange marmalade
cherry blossoms
a lone guitar

Got a lot of work done in
the woods today with an axe
in my clod-hoppers
faded jeans
and black lace panties


June 1, 1971

I sail on a ship in a storm at sea
being battered and blown by the wind and waves
while all we can do is hang on and pray
for we have no control over the forces which stir up demons
we must watch, knowing our fate lies in the balance
seeing the clouds overhead, dark water below
and our vessel breaking in two

The hands bleed, from holding the lines
trying to hang on, unable to steer
while our ship, like a bronc
tries to displace the rider from its back
Wielding a whip the salt spray pierces the skin
and blinds the eyes
as wave after wave sweeps the deck
engulfing the world we can see
It seems as if each wave will surely be the last
that neither we nor our craft can stand any more
but somehow, the timbers still show some strength
the joints still hold, however loose
The hands still cling to the lines
with the grip of death
having ripped down to raw bone
knowing that if these small bones are severed
our ship is lost

Will the captain call abandon ship
Oh, God! Why can’t I see the lifeboats
Or we could be lost at sea
to escape the tumult and go down below
for a long and quiet rest

Or will we ride out the storm
Will numbness descend so the pain is not felt
suspended in time till the black clouds pass
then to find out way to dry dock
to check her wounds and ours
to see if Time will restore the beauty and
mend the weakened joints
or if we shall be maimed
disfigured for life


June 5, 197l

On your next day off take a quick trip to hell
back if you can
You’ll be sure to see me somewhere along the way
Don’t look too close
I don’t want you to see
the look that was left in my eyes
when the devil got through with me


June 13, 1971

I walked in my valley beside the pond
among the ginger root and elderberry
Today the drooping arch of the bleeding heart
reached up and touched me
I so carefully traced a frond of a feathery fern
I noticed a very slight curve in a fir tree
as it found its way upward
I gazed on the lush new growth of the blackberry vines
I looked to my feet and my eyes gathered bouquets
of little blue forget-me-nots that spread all over the path
The song of the birds was all my ears heard
as I stood there in the stillness
while the symphony of life and beauty resounded in my soul
till I thought I heard the echo of a faraway voice saying:
“There now, I can rest tomorrow.”
I crouched with my head on my knee and cried
“Oh, God, help me, help me!”
Then the heavens shed their tears with me
as I hid there, out of sight,
in God’s garden


June 15, 197l

I love my life on this mountain
my hoe, the warm wood fire I must tend
this house of logs, the quiet woods where I walk
in the cool dampness of Oregon days
following a trail that must have been left by the angels
Last winter, when Nature changed her dress
I couldn’t feel put out for wondering at the beauty of white
pure white all over this mountain
Is there anything ugly except what man has made
And I take time to drink it all in
for I’m here because I choose to be
not because it’s all I know

But for some reason I can’t stop wondering
what’s on that mountain I see right over there
And what’s out there, beyond the sky
Will we ever see the gardener who planted the seed of life
who, it seems, from time to time stops to lean on his hoe
And, why, when I make a statement, do I need to
hear a voice ask “Why?”
Did you ever open a bean seed to see the minute sprout
and wonder
Will there be enough time to read all the books
And why shouldn’t I be able to understand
the way my coffeepot works
And how dare we be so presumptuous as to
divide science from art
Is there just too much life to live
and not enough time

And something in me craves music
singing and dancing
an ease of laughter
the sound of voices light with joking
the pleasure of friends
the sounds of voices absorbed in deep discussion
sounds that are feeling their way off their island
trying to reach a distant shore
leaving the ones in safety behind that were so
afraid of the water it kept them from learning to swim

Only time will tell if the journey to and fro
will take its toll
for I’ve learned that for some of these things
I must go down from the mountain


June 21, 1971

Every night about sundown another me starts waking up
from somewhere down inside
rejecting sleep, rejecting my life
as lonely as that deserted fir tree my hungry eyes
find silhouetted against the silent twilight sky
As sad as the black shadows appearing all around me
making a place for me to run and hide
finding a secluded camp for my memories and restless thoughts
loosing my mind to roam the world of my night
I look to the heavens and recall as a child
I made a wish on a star
What happened?

I long ago walked on coals in the fire
I’ve run the gauntlet, been put on the rack
My soul’s been set afire at the stake
long hours I’ve stumbled on the rim of hell
feeling the hot breath of that lord himself
while just evading his grasp
unable to shut out the sounds of agony below
unaware that some of those sounds came from me
But TIME interceded and I withstood every
pain and torture
though with a lot of scarring you’ll find

And now the Inquisitor speaks again
but in a different voice
The questions he asks I can’t answer
it looks like a part of me must surely die
And, oh, what an interlude of exquisite torture
locking you in your world, and me, in mine
after which God threw away the key

Somehow you managed to steal part of me
Now what do I do with what’s left
As I dart in and out of the shadows
I feel like I’m falling to bits and pieces
like ashes
Will the night wind come now and blow me away?


July 3, 1971

On the road again
going nowhere
to see no one
in no hurry to get there
but to or from
It’s all so very strange to me
but, just once
not lonely
I need no name
or games
finding a warm blanket of secluded anonymity

As just one infinitesimal wave in that majestic sea
that pulls me here
Leaving no more trace of my wanderings
than that ripple leaves on the stone cliffs
where it breaks into oblivion
Only Time alone with her infinite number of drops
has been granted the talent to mold and sculpt
on those so bold as to
run out to meet the sea



July 4, 1971

Is it possible?!

Yes, I think it might be a possibility
that for this brief space of my life
I need no one to talk to, to touch
that most of my emotions are stored
somewhere out of feeling’s reach
Perhaps it’s just rest
for I am for once at rest
with only one little corner of my mind at work
the essentials of thinking and writing this
an effort to capture forever this elusive moment
that, too soon, like all of life will fade
that TIME captures for herself alone
leaving us with only markers of our memory
to know we came along the short trail of consciousness
the groping to put memory down into something tangible
not left to the intricacies of my brain alone
to steal from Time a precious bit of her spoils
just leaning back on this furry log that washed ashore once
(must have been a terrific storm)

with ambitions – none
attitudes – not consciously forming any
desires – one…
To watch the sun go down behind the Pacific
to see for myself if the cameras that captured it
for the postcards lied
Everything rather lazily drifting around somewhere
up in the ionosphere

So I lie on the sand
out of sight
out of sound
out of touch


July 4, 1971

The glow of human invaders huddled by their aboriginal fires
The young finding seclusion behind their forts of drift
some who prefer the deepening shadows
wandering along by the water’s edge
figures of black
perhaps watching the incoming tide
or seeing nothing…..

the night, the tide and the mist come in
completing my alone-ness


July 4, 1971

Can I walk it out in the sand
can I sit it out by the fire
can I wash it out with vodka
can I drive it out under the wheel

Who are you
What are you
that you torment me so
always beckoning
yet keeping to the shadows
so I’ve yet to see you clearly
to see the demon face to face
to meet my possessor



The final chorus has been sung
the curtain is coming down
the spell is over
Closing night and the actor is sad
The house lights go up
we’re back to reality
With make-up gone the actor finds an empty stage
This night
the last night for a character
Lines go tumbling through his mind
How long will it take to put it all away
back among the cobwebs of his mind
He blew life into some lines
turned the words into a living thing
but it is over now
a part of the character will linger on
unwilling to be put back on the page
holding onto life

Out in the night the rain begins to fall
the actor turns his face to meet the sky
It is so cold, so clean
Tomorrow is a new day
there are new lines to learn
But wait
are those raindrops on his face –
or tears


(for my son who is hearing impaired)

Spring 1973

And when you were nine…

“Will I be able to hear when I’m a man
Will I have to wear a hearing aid when I’m big?”

Without hesitation I look you right in the eye and answer
then slowly turn my face the other way
while I pray my hands don’t falter at the wheel
and cry to God for strength, for wisdom

I recall other times
My four-year-old son who had not heard the words
“I love you”
The day you got your first hearing aid and ran back and forth
on the tiled floors listening to the sound of your own feet
the day a teacher (of the deaf) said
“Your son lied to me. I asked him so-and-so and he said”
A statement only a short time before
I would not have been able to comprehend
the look on your face at the age of nine when you had
just successfully ordered your ice cream cone all by yourself
for the very first time
It was payment for the price I had paid to MAKE you do it

But the next day I saw the frustration of
“I don’t like to talk to my coach. He doesn’t understand me.”
and the next
“Don’t call me stupid! I didn’t understand you.”
And at the moment of my anguish I’m silently offering
prayers of thanksgiving you have the LANGUAGE
to express these things!
Again at the age of nine when you learned of death
you watched your father burying a dead baby pig and as usual
“What happens to it? Where does it go? What does ‘rot’ mean?
Is that what happened to our baby?
But what about its eyes? It’s got dirt in its eyes
You were silent while we walked slowly back
across the meadow toward the house
until at last you stopped
looked up at me and meekly proclaimed

“i don’t want to die”

And still I pray – not in words
for my God’s not limited by the barriers of our language
And if I kneel or bow my head it’s not in reverence
it’s simply for the moment I lack the strength to hold it up

or I must have the eternal courage for the
Mother’s Ultimate Creative Task
I must have strength that I may help you develop strength
for you will have to be strong
My strength is only for survival
I must have wisdom so I can help you become free
I must help you find the keys to unlock the potential of your mind
for I’ve seen you think in images
My wisdom must be instantaneous and fleeting
yours will be of a different kind
Yours will be that of a man
a man who knows himself
and accepts himself

All alone, you will learn to live in a world
I can never understand
All alone, you will learn the answers to your question

Will I be able to hear when I’m a man?”


Spring, 1973

When you hear the timeless surf again
listen closely
you’ll hear the music of my soul
your touch unleashed

When you hear the wind blowing through those trees
listen closely
you’ll hear the song my heart is singing to you

When the grass brushes your thigh when you walk
be sensitive to the touch for
that is my caress

When you feel the wind in your face at sea
that is a kiss from me

When you look into the faces of your people
and the image of my own begins to blur
look deep into their eyes
and you’ll see a piece of my eternity
dwelling there



I taught a child
that was my job
I touched a child
I loved
that was not my job
that was letting the God in me out


April 1975 (about the night on the mountain, 1971)

Cold mountain wind whining through the trees
sharp taste of juniper
deserted, jagged rocks
at the edge of a winding dirt path
Infinity found me huddled
around my breaking heart
Time stopped on the breath of a whisper
I felt the face of God
with the tips of my fingers
as I talked with
the rocks
the wind
the trees
the mountains


March 1976

I sat down to try to write you a song
to paint a picture of you with some words and sounds
Some lines came to mind from times in the past
times I wasn’t practicing my usual role
times when I saw Jess first
when I saw the little boy
in the twinkle in your eyes
in the dimples when you smiled
when I saw an unknown depth behind
the tears I saw in your eyes
Looking for the essence of Jess
I saw the gentle shadow of some quiet words
beginning to form in the twilight of my mind
that touched the misty memories
surrounding my heart
and I backed away from your song

Come walk with me on the misty beach at dawn
Bathe with me in a prairie morning sauna of sunrise
Wander with me in a rain forest and feel the breath of God
Come with me into the salty surf off Padre Island
Let’s feel the power of the Mississippi from its banks
Let me take you to the home of the whippoorwill
as we watch our shadows grow long at twilight
listen to the song he sings at dusk for us
Then sit by me in the warm, golden candlelight…..


March 8, 1976

I’m strong enough to cry
strong enough to be weak
strong enough to need others
strong enough to be alone
strong enough to see thru the eyes of a child
strong enough to kneel
strong enough to love
strong enough to be me

I’m strong enough to say “I want you”
You’re strong enough to say “No”
and I’m strong enough for you to say “No”


March 10, 1976

How’s this for a fantasy?

Come with me
We’ll climb a mountain peak that holds up the sky and
discover the strings the sky uses to hold up the mountain
We’ll sail uncharted purple seas at the far edge of the world
with a compass of instinct making our map as we go
We’ll wake to an eighth weekday without a name
and name our creation
We’ll wonder at the sight of Atlantis rising again from
some timeless depth in the middle of our hearts
We’ll walk a fresh path following an exquisite light from
a farther star just beginning to touch our sight
We’ll probe the inner space of our souls and meet with infinity
We’ll become architects for the new city of a
schizophrenic dream

Hand in hand, we’ll struggle thru hell and come out on the other side
Then we’ll stand in the end of the rainbow
and taste each and every hue
And I’ll give you time’s most beautiful love song
that has not a sound…


March 26, 1976

It’s good for me to see you blush
even better than to see your anger
It reminds me you’re a man

I started to say “Just a man”
but perhaps it’s harder to be “just a man”
than it might be to be a god
for a man has doubts and fears
impossible dreams and castles in the air
that crash around his feet sometimes
and must lie amid the ruin and rubble
wondering how long before daylight

Sometimes when he’s all alone, hidden out of sight
he gets in touch with an empty place
and trembles in pain and fear
safely tucked under his blanket of darkness

For if he were a god he’d always be right
in what he says and what he does
He’d never fail and have to keep going
knowing somewhere…sometime…
he’s going to fail again

He’d never find even a whisper of doubt there
when all eyes look to him for the ultimate answer
when he has to make a decision and he knows
he doesn’t have any ultimate answers
he knows it might be just as wrong
as it might be right
but he has to act, he can’t retreat to a corner
for he’s out in the stream of life
not looking down from above
He’d never have to be painfully aware
of his finitude and limitations
when he walks among the broken, scattered
pieces of people he can’t mend

Yes, it’s good for me to see you blush..
and laugh and cry
and hear that deadly tone when you speak in anger
for I know you have both feet planted securely
on terra firma

And I wonder why I first thought, “Just a man”
No god has had to endure such


Las Vegas

June 8, 1981

It’s been such a long and winding road
to this place where I now stand
full of detours, unmarked turns
and days of standing still
This may not be the highest mountain
this may not be where I build
but for now it’s my own little hill

I’ve seen the view from the greatest peaks
I’ve wandered green valleys far below
The desert floor held special charms
the woods full of life I came to know

Where I go I see a part of God
in every leaf and every grain of sand
in every star on a summer’s night
in every snowflake on the winter land
Even the tears always subside
for I must see the wonder of where I am

Like a child whose senses have not dulled
to the simple touch of wind and rain
I reach out and take all I can feel
it’s free and they ease the pain

No one can take them from me
(Oh, yes, those with Stelazine)

I love the light and dark and all the in-between
the hot and cold and high and low
even the days of pain
because of them joy feels so clean

These feelings tell me “Hey, you’re alive!”

If I were only thought
the stars would not be to ride on
the flowers for me would not exist
and God could not be real.


Las Vegas, 1981

It’s not easy, finding my way
for I don’t like the way that’s been laid out for me
a narrow way, made that way, maintained that way
just because of gender

On this stage, a last stronghold
those footlights are a lingering Mason-Dixon line

It seems to be a place
sometimes the only place
that I can find me

It hasn’t been just recently
the stage came to possess me
I was only 6 years old
when the lights began to blind me
At 17 it wasn’t time
I didn’t have much to say
Just memorized the lines
It took another 20 years
in the school of hard knocks
to mold my soul
and bring that moment when
without the roles of stage and life
I stood amazed and heard me say
“Hey, I know me!”


Las Vegas

June 8, 1981

A life on ice for 20 years can sometimes build a big fire
from the holding back and storing up of songs
that don’t get sung in the day to day survival
The shoes I wore just never quite fit
did I know it at the time?
did I have time to know it?
It wasn’t choice that cast my lot for, quite early
the heavy hand of fate had bought and sold me

Then one day comes when suddenly there is no voice demanding
there’s no one left to tell me who I am and who I’m not
I ricochet off all four walls
before the mirror gives me a clear reflection

I’ve come to know my owner a little better now I feel
and I don’t know how but I know somehow, through that,
I’ve come to know me

Sometimes when my mind goes out of bounds
that’s where I find me



There are some who seem to go through life
always grasping, reaching out for love
always testing, never sure it’s quite real when it comes
for we were hurt too soon
our souls were pierced, invisibly it’s true
but left us bearing guilt at being born to cause such pain
We feel somehow it’s quite a feat to get someone to love us
All the words and all the talk
from all the experts through all the years
we grasp at once with the head
but words never quite make that quantum leap
across the rift to where the heart is



February 16, 1988

Last night your voice was real at last
after so many years of dreams
I had come back one more time
to face a final test

It wasn’t what you said
or even listening between the lines
that brought it all crashing to my feet
it was simply time
My heart had healed and it could hear
the message from my soul

and all the love songs ever sung
all the worlds that ever turn
can’t say it all, can’t tell my tale
the greatest joy, the greatest pain
of life and death and all that’s in between
such displaced gods are we
I didn’t know this had to be to make me free

A gift, a fantasy
the ONLY thing I had to hold me through the years
to make me wake and breathe and try
I dared to hold on, I didn’t break
never knowing why

Sometimes I wonder
“What do I do with all those boxes of things
tucked away in my mind
all those questions I’d ask
the places I’d been and the things I had seen
the poems I would write
all those things I’d been saving for so many years
keeping for the day when I’d share them with you?”

Today I don’t know what to do with them
today I’m learning they’re there

Today’s my birthday
The camellias are starting to bloom