Episode 4 Burnin Bush

Lesley Benzie

 Originally from Aberdeen, Lesley Benzie has settled in Kirriemuir, following 25 years of working and raising a family in Glasgow. There her vernacular was both a novelty and an initial impetus for writing, resulting in publication in magazines/anthologies and her first collection, SEWN UP. Her second collection, FESSEN, launched in May 2020. and combines both English and Aberdonian. To hear the launch and get your copy go to

seahorsepublications.com  

In this episode Lesley reads Burnin Bush, a poem inspired by recent events in Australia, but having resonance with present ongoing struggles for racial equality and the fight for action to tackle Climate Change.

Burnin Bush

In its twaa largest cities 

the inhabitants choke

as if they aa hiv a 30 a day habit

an the reid-hot glow ignitin the sky

can still be seen 

through the plumes o smoke

fae millions o acres

o burnin bush.

…………………………………………………………………………

But there’s nae a voice fae God

instructin him tae lead his people

tae safety.

…………………………………………………………………………

Instead, fae his sun bed in Hawaii

he evokes the sacred ‘Aussie spirit’

that has enabled them tae endure 

through calamity an bush fires 

such as these afore

………………………………………………………………………..

while he tries tae pour watter 

on aa the evidence

that there has nivver been 

bush fires such as these

…………………………………………………………………………

an denies the blueprint for land management, 

dyed in the bones o the country’s first people 

…………………………………………………………………………..

fa broucht fire fae the centre o the earth

far aa humans were cast in black, reid, yalla an fite

in harmony wi netter.

…………………………………………………………………………….

An despite sma pox an cruelty 

like they hid nivver seen 

……………………………………………………………………………

hiv preserved their ‘cultural fires’ 

in sanglines an walkaboots that began 

60,000 years ago in the dreamtime.

……………………………………………………………………………

As if half asleep, he repeats 

Now is not the time to talk about climate change.

…………………………………………………………………………….

For the kingmakkers o coal whisper 

in his dreams aboot the billions o reasons

that he needs tae pit 

his country’s economy an jobs first

………………………………………………………………………….

an ally himsel wi aa them fa allege

that it’s a conspiracy theory

concocted by the looney urban elites,

That we are aa in the same ark o this universe.

…………………………………………………………………………..

As each national leader competes

for their country tae be ‘First’

………………………………………………………………………..

tae consume aa the earth’s finite resources

tae fuel the lifestyle tae which

the God o free trade says 

They are entitled

………………………………………………………………………..

while a source

o year-roon renewable energy

beats doon on their heids, empty

o conscience.

……………………………………………………………………….

For this time, it’s only a few tens o fowk fa hiv died

an tens o hundreds o hames that hiv burned.

…………………………………………………………………………..

Their atmosphere stingin wi the singed flesh an fur 

o reid kangaroos, emus an koalas which are amon 

the billion animals fried in the scorched trees

that money disnae grow on. 

Lesley Benzie

Four countries that Lesley names as influences on her work

Podcast introductory and closing music from Rain, by Martin Stephenson and sung by Helen McCookerybook.