Madam and the Rent Man

(1964)

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

Madam and the Rent Man
by Langston Hughes


The rent man knocked.
He said, Howdy-do?
I said, What
Can I do for you?
He said, You know
Your rent is due.


I said, Listen,
Before I'd pay
I'd go to Hades
And rot away!


The sink is broke,
The water don't run,
And you ain't done a thing
You promised to've done.


Back window's cracked,
Kitchen floor squeaks,
There's rats in the cellar,
And the attic leaks.


He said, Madam,
It's not up to me.
I'm just the agent,
Don't you see?


I said, Naturally,
You pass the buck.
If it's money you want
You're out of luck.


He said, Madam,
I ain't pleased!
I said, Neither am I.


So we agrees!


--The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, pp. 275-6


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