Lynn Carneson McGregor

White Gucci Shoes

In the middle of the night in spring, at a gloomy train station, an angry prostitute is checking emails with frustration. He is cold and his white replica Gucci shoes are muddy. How did he allow himself to be talked into this trip?  There is one old wooden bench on the platform. He sits on it gingerly as one plank is missing. Hopefully his batteries will last long enough to find some friend on his email list who will rescue him. Although it is full moon, the tracks are not gleaming. Could be rusty. Maybe there are no trains. Where is he? He walks to the old sign at the end of the platform. Lyndoch. Where the hell is that? Anything could happen in this forsaken, place or even worse, anything might not happen at all. Forsaken, just like him. He wills himself to stop shivering, hugging himself against the cold breeze. He knew that he shouldn’t have messed with the dice, but ‘what the hell’, he thought. ’I have to be lucky some time.’ Not that time. They left him his clothes and his laptop because it was too old to sell. He asked them to give him a lift back to town but they dumped him here and drove off laughing at him. He had hoped that they would come back to fetch him, but no such luck.

So angry. Angry with himself. Angry with his parents who lost him his home and just disappeared. He warned them that if they did not pay rent, they would be thrown out.  Last autumn they were all sitting, cosy and joking watching rugby with the meths stove keeping them warm. His sister Patience hugging the teddy she was given by Aunty Nadine. Arguing about the rugby and which player did well. Pop and him, beer in hand, shouting when SA scored. Ma ladling dish of hot fragrant vegetable curry with soaked dried snoek, just how he liked it. He smelled the sleeve of his jumper. He liked the softness of it and its sweet smell. ‘Why do you like soft clothes?’ his Pop said, ‘You’re just like a moffy.’

Alone on that cold abandoned station, the wind stops and he looks up. The dark is slowly lightening. He sees fresh white daisies between paving stones. A tap. Clean clear water. He cleans his shoes, wiping them with an old tissue he finds in his pocket. ‘Lucky they are not leather. These clean up good.’ He stands up straight, flaps his arms up and down like a penguin and then prances along the platform. There in splendid solitude, he break-dances, Michael Jackson style, on his feet, does a handstand, flips backwards and then turns fast on one hand swinging both stretched legs round and round as fast as he can. His shoes flash white in the early sunshine, forming joyful circles and stripes in the fresh air. When he is finished, he bows to an imaginary audience. He does not notice the small group of ragged children watching him until they cheer and clap, stamping their feet with joy.

Lynn Carneson McGregor


It’s 11.00am in Hertfordshire, riding on the back of Lionel’s huge motorbike, clear sky, sunny day, joy of smell of earth and masses of bluebells under the trees. Holding onto Lionel, wind in my hair. Happy day ahead of us.

Then the bike suddenly swerves out of control and I fly off the back.

Blue, blue of bluebell woods, rushing past me. Bile at the back of my throat. Too fast to control. Flying high into the air. This is death. Then flash of road. Impact. Taste of lightning. No. Lightning has tasted me, unconscious and witnessed by the tall dark green-scented firs, but I can’t smell them. I am somewhere else.

Time to die, but no time to say goodbye.

Body I cannot feel smashed on grey black tarmac.

I am at the merge.

Bright Light.

No feeling, just bright light

Light. Shaft of brilliant light.

No more body. This is dying – floating with the light

Blackness. Then rainbow colours flashing with unbearable intensity.

I see from above, my body, broken, burnt and crumpled.

I am unconscious for forever  or a second, lying hard hit on that harsh road.

My being, reshaped.

Insistent, strong, the scent of bluebells wakes me up. I don’t want to return. I want to travel where the lightning goes when it leaves earth.

Black again. Then a blackbird tells me it is time to come back. Don’t bring me back yet. I need more time to feel and taste that brightness of light.

Then nothing.

I wake up, cushioned on a pool of my own blood. Three angelic beings are above me, tall as the firs, murmuring. Their love and concern wraps around my heart, my being and my body.

The three angels lift me into the ambulance and I lose consciousness again.

Lynn Carneson McGregor

Wave warrior.

6.00 on Friday morning. ‘Come amongst the kelp’ and the huge wave crawling ferociously. You see the wave coming from far away and although your friend is scared and goes back, you paddle furiously into the swell of the majestic brooding of the wave and duck under the emerald lift before the wave’s top folds and froths and then you stand up on your board and ride the elements for as long as you can before your wavesteed slows down and then, still standing, the wave deposits you on the beach. The sheer wonder of it.

Then off you are again, bobbing over rumpled water, watching and waiting for the seventh wave to call you to it, not knowing whether or when the wave will chose to carry you or not and then before you are too tired, when the storm clouds warn you to leave right now, you return to the beach to a towel and a hot cup of cocoa, ready for the rest of the day.

Lynn Carneson McGregor


The blind see differently. They do not see
the flutter of a blue skirt in the wind.
Truth smiles through the chuckle of a baby.
The quiet serenity of the mind.
Inner fear drowns the truth that my heart knows
Harshness of unsaid judgement in the eyes
of unknown enemies. Imagined blows
distract my thinking and fill me with lies.
Deep in the dark wintertime of my lost soul,
cold rain. Waterfall roars and rainbow shines.
Once again I remember to be whole
and calm the frightened child that undermines.
Let the girl dance and when she can see,
she will run with the wind, laugh and be free

Lynn Carneson McGregor


What do you do, sitting next to a sexy person?
I thigh, touching the leg, nudging it, waiting for him to thigh me.
Most fun is at dinner parties thighing secretly under the table cloth wondering who else is thighing because we are.

Lynn McGregor


Always the same and never the same
I am the many and also the one

I am many and one of the hungry and scared
for the wrath of the weather will not save us

My mood shifts.
Clouds cover, then leave my steep sides

As my tears fall gently on your parched soul
your spirit rises, shining sunset gold

Sweet smell of fresh rain on hot rocks
many voices sing for joy

Keep still. You can hear
the silent alive singing

In the shade it is cold.
On my sunny side mountain berries grow

Those before you and those after you
will tread the same paths

Always the same and never the same
I am many and also the one.

Lynn McGregor

Where does the wind go?

Wind ruffles sparkling sea
Clouds drifting shadows. So sad
the last precious moments.
Is this really, really goodbye?

Waves flowing in and out
when they go and I am left alone,
who am I without them?
My two footprints on the sand

South wind blew white feathers
scattered them all over us
light as truth. So many.
We laugh, remembering good times

White feathers gently float
I watch them fade and disappear
Who am I on my own?
Caressed gently by the soft breeze

Lynn McGregor

Night Wind

Third night of vision quest sitting alone on log
Knee deep in snow. Night wind softly singing through me.
Silence of spruces dreaming. Moonlight through fir trees.
Where is the meaning?

Midnight they came to me. Four wolves, standing there
in a line. Four pairs of glowing yellow eyes
Watching them watch me, touching deep places in me
Then suddenly they left

Etched by frost, delicate patterns of spider webs
What are the intricate designs of my life?
The message of the wolves? Wisdom of the trees?
Night song, sing for me

Lynn McGregor

The morning sun

The morning sun tastes like sweet raisins, like an over ripe paw paw, like late harvest wine, like the aftertaste of fynbos honey, like the first bite of a ripe fig. The morning sun tastes like the tart wake up of orange juice, like halva with nuts, like bitter chocolate not yet melting in the mouth, like the creamy taste of avocado, like dew on the tip of my tongue, like the lingering kiss of my lover, ardent silent and steaming.

Lynn McGregor


Before the Sun Dance begins, we purify ourselves in the Sweat Lodge and have a Pipe Ceremony to ask Great Spirit to help us dance Spirit awake. A soft breeze caresses our bodies. We are blessed.

Two hundred people. Three Circles. The outer, the supporters, the middle, the energy-givers and the inner circle – the Sun Dancers. Black Elk, my Fire Man leads the Sun dance and I, Moon Woman mirror him, step by step, saluting the four directions, the East, the West, the North and the South. I hold the energy for him as he dances, holding the staff of many colours in tribute to the sun. We dance for four hours, then rest for twenty minutes, then dance again. The drummers heart-beat the dance hour after hour, sunset to sunrise. The dancers dance round the Tree of Life, offering for the human race and blowing their eagle bone whistles to summons the eagles. The eagles come on the second day.

On the fourth day we have a small break and I go to his tepee. He tells his acolytes to leave the tent. Then he folds me in his arms, pent up with the power of the dance, the drums, the singing

He holds me, Sweat glistening on his arms, his smooth legs, his palms against my palms. Ever so gently, hardly at all.

I stand trembling. I become water and melting

A man comes into the tent. “Five more minutes”. Then he goes out.

Stretching of time, we are in the dream time, the Nagwal.
I sway with him, dancing the steps of the Sun Dance of Great Spirit.

We are one. Like the feathers of wings we fly together.

Then he touches me in my private energy place of power.

Lightening streaks through me from the sky to the bottom of the earth and again and again.

Then the dance goes on, drum beats, sacred songs and the prayers of the Sun Dancers.

Greatness of Spirit has touched us.

Lynn McGregor

A frozen crust,
mute and murky
Golden words swim below
in silent grace

Shaida Ali

Golden Words 

He smiled at her
and a shaft of ice hit my stomach.
Self doubt poisoning my spirit
he told me how pretty she was
myself a fat shape of lumps.
At home he hugged me wanting to make love
lost in myself I could not respond.
A frozen crust

lost in myself I could not respond.
I slip, sucked in
how did I get here, this familiar hellhole?
sliding into bogs of misery
darknesses of memory
why do I feel punished?
Stuck in mind-mud
mute and murky

Can’t breathe.
Then he reaches and holds me
cradles me with huge hands.
I love you. I love you
Light dapples on white walls.
Sacred moments.
I love you. I love you.
Golden words swim below

Golden words swim below
fish eagles circle above
leaping over carefree rocks
red and ochre warmth
Soon be there. Then the view.
Mountains after mountains purple
tumbling into fresh bubbling water
Together we lie, him and me
in silent grace

Lynn Carneson McGregor

Moon Woman

Because it was my moon time the medicine men told me I had to leave and suggested a vision quest. I flew up to Crestone Colorado to an ancient and sacred site for my four-day vision quest.

Snow up to my knees. I am not cold, wearing all my clothes and blanketed by the total silence of the forest. Sitting on my log. Listening to the sounds of the night. Rustlings. A night jar, Water dripping on snow. Spider web patters of frost hanging from the bushes. Now I am very still because I sense living  presence behind me. I must not fear. I very slowly turn round. Moonlight so bright I can see the yellow eyes of five wolves staring at me. The bodies are thin, fur matted. Witnessing my quest. They disappear into the deep darkness of the woods.

I am my own but not alone.

Suddenly I know who and what I am in all this.

Deep peace of the glittering sky

Moon time. Terrible tensions. Mood swings. Intense pain. The build up.
The blood flow is about letting go of the grief of unfulfilled potential.
Moon time and tides, flow of day into night, are all one.

I wade through snow, singing in my heart the song of the presence of the wolves. The sky is now lighter. Orange sun over the lowest mountain.

Bit by bit, patches of light glow golden over tops of trees. The valley is sun burnished.

How did I miss it, that moment when night turns to morning?

Lynn Carneson McGregor


The alarm clock bleeps, but they do not move, snuggling under their white eiderdown, the bed soft and welcoming.

He reaches out to her and she moves towards him, her head on his shoulder. He murmurs and holds her with his huge hands, containing her in perfect bliss. He starts rocking rhythmically, gently arousing her. She moves against him, not wanting this ever to stop.

“Did you remember your dreams?”

“I dreamt a strange young woman came to my room and pleaded with me to let her in. I said no, but she implored me. Then she kissed me and I let her in.”

She stops breathing. Is there something wrong with their relationship? Is he bored with her? Is he trying to tell her something?

Then he nudges her – “just winding you up.” Rolling on top of him, she playfully bounces on top of him. They wrestle, coming closer to each other. He is huge with desire. The doorbell rings.

They stop for a moment, shrug and then begin again, stroking and moving, a long lingering kiss. He notices how long her eyelashes are. The doorbell rings again

He sighs, flops out of bed. Goes to the door.

“You can’t go like that.”

“Where’s my dressing gown?”

But she has hidden it under the bed. So he gets back into bed and reaches out to her. She closes her eyes feeling the warmth of him. The doorbell rings again.

They lie there. Smiling at each other. The sea ripples and swells. Behind him the sun is a wedge shimmering in front of the lighthouse

She sits up suddenly. “What day is it?”

“Tuesday. Why?”

“Oh my God, isn’t that when your aunt is coming to stay with us?”

He grabs a towel. “Oh hell, she was so strict with me when I was young.”

Lynn McGregor

Is this true?

It is eight o’clock in June 2006 in my house in Simonstown. Electricity cut. Finished cooking stew over the stove. Smell of roasted marshmallows. ‘Celestial’ says Sipho.

Wind. Rain drumming on window. Drawn curtains. Snuggling with Sipho and Busi on the couch. Sipho bored. Can’t play computer games.

Red Persian carpet glowing in firelight. Candles. Gas lamp glowing yellow bright. Blanket keeping us cosy. Quiet crackling of fire. Sculpture of seated man in green serpentine also staring at fire.

Sipho in bright blue jumper, fleece soft. Busi in dark pink. Dark pink scarf hanging over the couch.

‘What can we do now?’

Busi stretches. ‘Whenever we sit around a fire, we have a story. Anyone got a story to tell? Come on Aunty. Tell us a story?’

Sipho shrugs. ‘A story is better than nothing.’

‘Come on, Aunty.’

I look into the flames of the fire and begin

When I was in Mongolia, I was fast asleep warm and snug in bed when I woke to the sound of horses galloping. First from far away and then nearer and nearer until they stopped outside my yurt. I was terrified. What did they want? I looked round for my knife that I usually tie around me but this night it was on my table too far to reach.

The door to my yurt was harshly unzipped. There, illuminated by the moon, was a wild stocky square man in black leather trousers, jacket and boots, a sheepskin coat and a red woollen hat. Only slits of his eyes were showing.

‘Come with me,’ he shouted through the storm.

I found myself on a horse galloping through the snow. It was exhilarating once I realised he and his companions were friendly. Finally we reached a yurt on its own halfway up a hill. It cast a shadow on the snow in the moonlight.

We went in.

Sitting by the fire brewing something I could not recognise, was my old soul mate, Kabir.

‘Come and have some tea.’

We sat cross-legged around the fire on brightly coloured camel hair carpets and sipped bittersweet strong camel-butter tea, strong smelling camel-oil lamps warming and brightening the yurt.

He shared some of his latest poems.

When I cannot see him

I wander lost. The day is dark.

Where is my beloved?

Walking with you, he said.

But I cannot see you

You do not need to see me

To know that I am here

Just touch your heart

And you will feel me

Very happy and too warm, I took off my coat and outer layers, revealing an ugly scar down my arm. I tried to cover it up.

‘Why do that?’ Kabir said.‘Your scars on your body are the lines of meaning, the roses that you present to the beloved.’

‘Then you will love my biggest scar,’ I said, showing him the line across my thigh from my motorbike crash.

‘That is nothing’, he cried, ‘look at mine.’

He stripped and we competed for the best scar, falling about laughing at ourselves.

I have never laughed so much in my life – my sides and deep inside my belly were aching from laughter.

I get up and put on some more marshmallows – sweet toasted smells. Candles burning low. We sticky our fingers and mouths and have to lick them clean.

Get back under the blanket.

‘Then what?’ asks Sipho, eyes gleaming.

Silence. Light illuminating objects in the dark. Patterns of the Persian carpet now vivid, now changing in intensity. Reds, indigo, geometrical shapes – diamonds, leaf shapes. Wind and rain knocking on the window, blurring the lights of the harbour.

‘How about tomorrow? Time for bed.’

Lynn McGregor

Crushed grass

They smashed his spirit
Ruined sour earth, molecules of anger and resentment
What is the song that touches this generation?
The years spent in prison
Sunlight illuminating each object in the dark
Ruined sour earth, molecules of anger and resentment
The years spent in prison
Sunlight illuminating each object in the dark
His smile that recognises we are one with this beautiful earth
Where is that in me?
Why no joy? Just grief
His smile that recognises we are one with this beautiful earth
I saw him after he had been tortured
Why no joy? Just grief
What is the song that touches this generation?
I saw him after he had been tortured
They smashed his spirit, but it sprung up like crushed grass