St. Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology
3:00 AM - Rum Racket Rum

Robert Healey

Rum racket-racket rum, rum racket rum,
Deep in the woody dells a throbbing drum,
Who plays the rhythm that blows on the air,
Rum racket-racket rum, come if you dare!

Down through the heather with bow in hand,
Down past the lake rimmed with coal-black sand,
Down to the forest’s edge, stealthily come,
Chasing the racket-rum, rum racket rum.

Stand on the cusp of these dark, waiting trees,
Doubts rise within the heart, ride on the breeze.
Until that taunting beat thrums from the lair,
Chases the doubts away: Come if you dare!

Through the cold aspens and frosty black pine,
Into the darkness where stars never shine,
Hunting the rhythm which swells in your brains,
That courses like wine pulsing hot in its veins.

And oh, it is reckless to trust in a bow,
As if aught human arrow might stave off a foe
Which, who knows, may linger with drumsticks clutched tight,
To lure silly fools to his feasting tonight.

Through bush and through briar, o’er stump and o’er log,
Through thicket and thorn-brake, round mire and bog,
And always the drumbeat is beck’ning before,
Though nearer and nearer with every step more.

At long last, behold how the trees thin apart,
And a clearing so bright meets this out-of-breath heart.
From the clearing it seems that the racket rums roll.
As at last to the brink of the clearing you stroll.

Forty feet in a circle, this space in the dell,
Not a movement, nor sound, as if held by a spell,
Every blade of grass glistens with dew like a gem,
And the frost laces every tree round, leaf and limb.

In the center a single black tree stands alone,
Gnarled with age like a hag with its fingers of bone,
And it’s from this tree’s base, that the throbbing beats come,
Of that rum racket-racket rum, rum racket rum.

Then it stops.
                  And in tension the forest is dead,
A silence that freezes one’s blood through with dread,
For a moment, and then all is rent with the wrath
Of a cold, spiteful, plotting, wry, hideous laugh.

And, oh dare to look on? It’s the tree now that changes!
As it glares like a demon, and stretches it’s branches
And Oh! Tis no tree, but a creature of fright
Like an ashy faced hag glaring fire in the night.

With a shriek like a banshee, she speeds straight this way!
Flee away!  Fly for life, as the hunter turns prey.
Over log, over stump, through each thicket and briar,
Through the thorns and the bushes, through bog and through mire,

And OUT, OUT, OUT! through the aspens and pines,
To the meadows where, praise God, the moon brightly shines!
Past the lake rimmed about with its black-as-coal sand,
Through the heather, still gripping that bow in your hand.

Never stopping, no, though glance back to find,
That there is no glaring ghost hag there behind,
Never slowing until at the strong cottage door,
Turn the knob, dash inside, slam it shut, shoot the bolt, and Hhhhhhh….

Still trembling, but listening with ear to the door,
Half afraid that you’ll hear that cold drumbeat once more,
Relieved that the night stays without a sound,
When a hoarse, cold laugh makes you turn… around.

Not ten feet away, stands the horrible fiend,
With a drum in her hands and her eyes glowing green,
“I’m so glad,” sneers the hag, “you decided to come!”
As your heart beats racket-rum, rum racket—


Robert Healey

"The Last Sunset" by Robert Healey