Madam and the Census Man

(1964)

"Madam and the Census Man" is the first song of Siegmeister's Madam To You cycle, which sets seven texts of Langston Hughes.

Madam and the Census Man


The census man,
The day he came round,
Wanted my name
To put it down.


I said, JOHNSON,
ALBERTA K.
But he hated to write
The K that way.


He said, What
Does K stand for?
I said, K--
And nothing more.


He said, I'm gonna put it
K - A - Y.
I said, If you do,
You lie.


My mother christened me
ALBERTA K.
You leave my name
Just that way!


He said, Mrs.,
(With a snort)
Just a K
Makes your name too short.


I said, I don't
Give a damn!
Leave me and my name
Just like I am!


Furthermore, rub out
That MRS., too--
I'll have you know
I'm Madam to you!


--The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, pp. 355-6


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