Mental Illness? or - Salvation                                                               Copyright ©2014 Hazel Gay

Hazel Gay's To Heal the Broken-Hearted

(All poetry in this section is from 1976 or before)

The Saints in My Sanctuary
Spring 1976

I cling to the vision of one small daisy 
like a drowning man in a sea to a raft

to the gentle caress of cold raindrops 
on my face in the silent darkness

to a sleeping baby’s laughing response 
to the magic kiss of an angel that I 
carry in my pocket

to the sparkling flame of joy I found 
in one tiny dewdrop on a new blade of 
grass on a hilltop

to a warm, strong, invisible hand that 
teaches me how to run in the darkness


How can I extract my feelings?

You say some questions I ask too hard: 
they cannot be answered. 
Our words are not enough? 
But something commands me try; 
To cut, to feel, to suffer, 
probing my inner being 
Performing an exploratory on my soul 
Each part to be laid out in the bright light 
Where they’re no longer safe and secure 
Always with the fear of a thief 
Or just another close by 
Before I’m ready to call 
But with all the time and tears, 
With all the agony 
I find I still can’t reach the bottom of my soul

Perhaps it’s as you say

Perhaps more evolution must be 
Before we can communicate the eternal moods within


On the death of my baby…..

It seems like a night that was so long ago…. 
The night I found a different kind of pain existed 
If I were one to believe in divine punishment 
I might think He’d found His zenith 
But I rejected that idea a long time ago 
For many reasons – maybe survival?

It was a long, long night 
With nothing to ease the pain 
I had windows to see the night 
The black night 
Made up of clouds and more clouds and just darkness 
For God hid His stars that night 
He shushed them all to another room 
to keep them from seeing my sorrow 
And he set the moon to keep watch inside the door 
so none could sneak out 
Till on toward dawn, the moon gave in to curiosity 
and crept out from behind a cloud 
And I lay still and watched a round moon of 
Pure silver 
Changing everything to silver in its light 
Sending its luminescent streamers and ribbons that said, 
“We’re still here, I just came to see 
how you were making out.” 
And the superstition in me wanted to say 
“It’s a sign!”

So I went back to the songs of David 
And searched through the words of John 
For something I might have missed 
I wasn’t satisfied with Plato’s answer 
And McKuen hasn’t found it yet 
I’ve looked in conversations and books 
And still I look – 
Out in the meadow 
In the woods 
Back to the books and 
Back out again.

And so I must keep on searching 
For, though perhaps I’ve been close, 
I still haven’t found the promise of that 
Ethereal silver moon…..


June, 1971

Somehow I must write a song 
and so I try and I try 
I pick up my guitar 
Or stop to sit at my piano 
I play the chords in major 
then minor 
But does God think I’m not yet ready 
to communicate with you in this way? 
For still the tune won’t come 
Yet the music is there locked in every fiber 
Playing a song, my song to you

There must be a way to reach within 
and grasp the score 
So I can sing my heart out loud 
So the world will hear my song of love 
and of woe 
For it’s a song that’s way too much 
for one small soul 
Somehow, it must be shared

And if God would only give me the talent 
I would paint how I feel on canvas 
With my heart holding the brush 
The palette coming from my soul 
And I would add that to my music 
And from it all perhaps I could ease 
This haunting need of my soul to converse…..


December, 1970

Deep in despair, I lie, unmoving 
a body as still as death 
weighted down by the earth of anguish 
Invisible bonds that tie my shell 
lash at my soul 
always torturing, always tormenting 
an unceasing cry from the bottom of hell 
My God! My God! 
caused by the piercing stab of truth 
the knowledge of what is 
what might have been 
and what can never be

It is the slow strangulation of will 
an agonizing death for desire 
a part of ME must perish forever 
never again to walk in paradise 
The rivers of needs in me must dissappear 
leaving only their hollow canyons 
where once they flowed so strong and swift 
searching for the sea 
The view from the mountain peak must be forgotten 
the valley must be all that’s known 
But the will to survive is so rich, so strong, 
that it’s been a long, long battle 
a suicide dragged on and on 
And Time must help me deliver the final blow

Till then 
this undulating wretchedness will exist 
eased only by a rare anesthesia for pain 
those moments of insanity 
when the mind ascends and escapes this tribulation 
when it seems too much to bear 
the soul retreats to a sheltering glade 
where there’s no sound, no sight 
My heart must stop it seems 
and for an instant the body returns to the primeval state 
slipping out of the bonds of unfullfillment

I must not, cannot, break these bonds 
but they’ve become so heavy 
and I, so weary 
Yet, I cannot forget 
It was I who handed the master the hemp


April 21, 1973

Fall out kids! 
It’s time for church 
Grab your hymnal 
Any old shirt 
Run down the stairs 
And out the door 
Head for the ridge 
Where you can see more 
Hurry up now 
Don’t be late 
The sun’s coming up 
It won’t wait!


December 1970

Oh, God, give me strength to endure this loneliness 
This separation of our souls which tears at me 
I have much more to give that you reject 
You’ve killed much that I gave 
Your wall is too high 
Your moat too wide 
I didn’t make it through 
I pray I don’t find an extended hand 
to lead me another way 
To another castle 
And on to Paradise

But I’m so afraid……


A Hunger, though well-fed 
An emptiness though surrounded 
A cry within, a moan 
I reach but you’re too far 
A part of me you cannot see 
A part of me is foreign to you 
For it soars high and far 
From the Genesis to eternity 
For my mind is loosed by the words of thoughts 
Loosed to share the universe 
But I go alone 
What is this in me that needs a fellow for the journey so 
Why the pain because you lag behind 
Can I ever find the key that will let you go with me 
Or have you sealed off the door?


Who was Leon Gay…..really…..

I have pictures of his face, I have his name 
I was told he neither smoked nor drank nor cursed 
or went to church 
He owned a 3-piece suit and hat 
and a horse 
He knew how to make moonshine 
and he was next to the oldest 
and he always built the fire in the morning

But the pictures and name are all that remain 
and in some distant office a few numbers

and a tattered, yellowed telegram….

Did he enjoy his family’s music 
Papa with his fiddle and JJ with his guitar 
Did he find his own religion 
out in those post-oaks and blackjacks 
or out on those prairies? 
How did he feel about that red clay and 
those thunderstorms that filled up the gullies 
and washed the land away? 
What did he think about when he was 
following that mule with that plow 
hour after hour 
day after day? 
Was he a gentle man? 
Did he like to read 
Did he believe in God 
in an after-life? 
How did he feel about Negroes? 
Did he enjoy being a man? 
What did he want for his kids? 
Did he enjoy conversation at times 
a circle of friends?

What did he think were the important things? 
Did it bother him any to slaughter a pig? 
And how did it feel, down in his gut 
when he saw what war was really all about…..

Does anyone remember? 
Did anyone know?



June 1971

The sun knocked on my door this morning saying 
“Hurry, come out where I can see you to sit.” 
So here I am on my favorite stump 
Quietly peeking as the day is getting up 
I lean back and take my young-old body out of motion to just watch 
as my spirit goes dancing with the daisies across the fields 
leaping about to see every little lavender iris 
amazing at each one’s perfection 
noticing that with them, like people, the hue changes with time

I make a note to come by again and check on the progress of the 
blue steeples of lupines just beginning to bloom 
then hurry on to kiss each blade of grass and give each 
ragged banner another whoosh – sending them waving again 
to sprinkle their seeds from atop their long slender stems 
Each sprig of life is becoming a familiar friend 
no longer can I say, that, like a different race 
they all look alike to me 
I don’t know all their names yet 
for I’m still in the awe struck stage of fresh awareness 
But one of these days when I find time 
we’ll be formally introduced 
Each one is distinct in form and habit and shading 
What a palette and what an imagination it took 
To concoct just one square acre of natural land!

My mind falls flat to the ground to see better 
the bright red jewels that hug the earth 
The sparkle of something catches my eye and I 
raise my head to see a thick clump of grass 
bedecked with dewdrops that shine like 
millions of glittering diamonds 
creating that look we try to imitate with our 
twinkly Christmas lights

Then I find myself soaring to sit in on that discussion 
Three birds are having right up there in the top of that tallest fir tree 
They didn’t know it but I sat there awhile 
trying to catch little puffs of clouds to stick in my pockets 
I even put some in my mouth 
With a parachute of peace God lent me I floated back over the earth 
over the willow-like vine maples that cling so tenaciously to life 
over the magical blackberries, with a power that enables them 
to flourish where nothing much else can survive 
I glide among baby fir trees and pause to reflect 
Where did the baby hemlock go?

I almost make a crash landing on this table-top tree stump 
and I hurry to gather up my soul 
for I see smoke rising from a chimney 
delivering the message It’s time to go 
Another world is awake now, too


June 9, 1971

Oh, God, how you can cause pain! 
True to the tales of your distant blood 
you know the art of torture 
You know just where to plunge the knife 
and begin to twist 
then to watch your victim’s face 
unable to see I give my all at your altar 
It wasn’t for a lark I rode into your camp 
I wasn’t looking for just a new thrill 
I came to learn your language 
to communicate 
groping for the other side of God’s face 
Is my skin so light and bright 
the sun reflects and blinds you 
making you unable to see 
that I feel and hope and hurt 
just like you do 
Or didn’t you know 
My tears contain salt, too 
just like yours do

I thought I knew you 
but I heard you steal words from another’s mouth 
Yes, I’ve heard people use those word before 
words that cause me to ask 
Did you just take the white man’s woman to bed 
or the white man’s woman to wife 
to repay him?

I don’t know which is worse 
to call me “bigot” 
or say “I don’t love you”


June, 1971

I think 
I feel 
I write 

I don’t worry much about what others think anymore 
I’m just me 
And what the years have made me 
“Half country – half sophistication” 
a minister once told me 
Just trying to learn the language 
For I don’t want an interpretation 
I want to read the book mysef 
God gave me a mind 
And I thought I heard Miss Hatchett say “Use it!”

I’ve got just ONE short time 
To get it all done 
I won’t get 3 strikes before I’m out 
So I’ve got to make it count 
What does it matter if you don’t like how I live? 
I didn’t know you were consulted when the rules were set down! 
I know when it comes time for Trial 
There won’t be witnesses or a 12-man jury 
I’ll have to face my Maker 
All by myself