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87_ym_shesingsrumsong_kjhgreenberg.jpg
Art by KJ Hannah Greenberg 2021

She Sings the Rum Song to Me

by Otto Burnwell

 

“Treat older women as you would your mother…”

— 1 Timothy 5:2

 

She sings the Rum Song to me

and drapes herself in Christmas lights.

She tells me how she spent the night

at the bedside of her dying aunt.

 

She sings the Rum Song to me

so I won’t worry where she was,

and fret to see the scrapes and bruises

on her hips and thighs and knees.

 

She sings the Rum Song to me,

swears she’s not gone back to smoking

and says the smell of that tobacco

is the bar from half-mile up the street.

 

She sings the Rum Song to me

peeling off her wrinkled clothing.

She’s got a red lace thong on backward

and her bra is inside out.

 

She sings the Rum Song to me

and says, yes, she may have had a couple,

but she took no drinks from strangers.

At least, as far as she remembers.

 

She sings the Rum Song to me

and does recall this kind of young guy

who cooed while pouring up Negronis,

“it’s older women who’re the hotties.”

 

She sings the Rum Song to me,

little more than mumbling now.

She’s face down in her pillow

so I’ll know to let her sleep alone.

 

She sings the Rum Song to me.

When the years go flying by too fast,

and she feels her power crack and fade,

she hunts the boys who filled her younger days.

 

 

Otto is riding out the pandemic in a densely populated, urban area, with a few million of his closest neighbors, wondering how much pain we can inflict on each other and still call it love.  This piece comes out of that.
He writes to stay sane, uses a pseudonym to stay employable, and changes enough detail in what he writes to stay welcome at the family’s holiday gatherings—in some future to be named later.
He’s recently placed pieces with Terror House MagazineHorror, Sleaze, TrashThe Oddville PressFiction on the WebThe Stray Branch, and Yellow Mama.
 


KJ Hannah Greenberg captures the world in words and images. Her most recent poetry collection is Rudiments (Seashell Books, 2020), her most recent essay collection is Simple Gratitudes (Propertius Press, 2020), her most recent short story collection is Demurral: Linens, and Towel and Fears (Bards& Sages Publishing, 2020), and her most recent photography collection is 20/20, Eye on Israel (Camel Saloon, 2015).

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2021