Madam and the Number Runner


"Madam and the Number Runner" is the sixth song of Siegmeister's Madam To You cycle, which sets seven texts of Langston Hughes.

Hughes's poem is actually titled "Madam and the Number Writer."

Madam and the Number Writer
by Langston Hughes

Number runner
Come to my door.
I had swore
I wouldn't play no more.

He said, Madam,
Looks like a likely
Hit for you.

I said, Last night,
I dreamed 7-0-3.
He said, That might
Be a hit for me.

He played a dime,
I played, too,
Then we boxed 'em.
Wouldn't you?

But the number that day
Was 3-2-6--
And we both was in
The same old fix.

I said, I swear I
Ain't gonna play no more
Till I get over
To the other shore--

Then I can play
On them golden streets
Where the number not only
Comes out--but repeats!

The runner said, Madam,
That's all very well--
But suppose
You goes to hell?

--The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, pp. 269-70


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