Easy Listening

Herbaceous plants

At home, I’m not only plagued by the loud, aggressive roar of stacked planes circling as they come into land at Stansted airport, but by my neighbour’s radio. His station of choice seems to play one song for every six adverts; and the adverts are packed with words such as Mega deal… Unbeatable value…Extended warranty…  Finance available… Exceptional… Unique… New improved recipe…

While I’ve been at Benmore, I’ve had a much more positive experience of the medium of radio.

The good folk at Dunoon Community Radio (97.4 FM or listen online at www.dunooncommunityradio.org) were kind enough to have me on to chat about the Walking with Poets residency; the gathering of 150 poems to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the planning of the Redwood avenue, gardening, poetry in general, bikes and a whole lot more.

At Benmore the soundtrack to my day is decidedly easy listening: robins, finches and blackbirds; spotted woodpeckers calling and their young calling back from the nest, which is near where the newly gilded Golden Gates will be re-hung;

 Golden gates

the rustle of flowers and foliage as a deer appears;

white and pink rhoda

the gentle splash of the fountain;

Fountain and pond

rain on the stone wall round the Formal Garden

Wall round Formal Garden

or the roof of the potting shed

Flower pots

or the leaves of the hostas;


wind in the Monkey Puzzle trees.


And when I am in the garden during the weekend the Duty Officer gives me a radio, just in case I need to get in touch. I really like carrying the radio round with me, it makes me feel… but why use prose when I can use poetry? This is a poetry residency after all.

So, if you can’t visit the garden in person, please, step into this poem and walk with me round the garden while I’m carrying my radio.

I like pressing the button
and speaking:  Come in… Where
are you? Over and out. I like
the whale-song through kelp,
creased, crumpled, crazy-paved,
Chinese-whispered, sliced
potatoes-in-hot-fat, hissing
and salted-pork
cracking responses. Visitors envy
me, think wrongly I’m here
every day and paid
to be so lucky. It’s not
the envy that makes me walk tall,
trying not to strut
like a peacock. It’s their believing
I could belong
somewhere. They make it seem
real, close as these trees.

Sue Butler


2 thoughts on “Easy Listening

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