So, clean up your nasty rental properties and pay your debt,
choose your tenants wisely and the roach’ll be no threat.
The Ballad Of The Landlord by Langston Hughes
This poem by Langston Hughes grew out of conditions in New York City’s Harlem in the 1930’s. In graphic terms it describes the escalation of anger and frustration that tenants experienced trying to get landlords to make basic repairs. It is structured like an old time blues song until the final verse where the rhythm changes
My roof has sprung a leak.
Don’t you ‘member I told you about it
Way last week?Landlord, landlord,
These steps is broken down.
When you come up yourself
It’s a wonder you don’t fall down.Ten Bucks you say I owe you?
Ten Bucks you say is due?
Well, that’s Ten Bucks more’n I’l pay you
Till you fix this house up new.What? You gonna get eviction orders?
You gonna cut off my heat?
You gonna take my furniture and
Throw it in the street?Um-huh! You talking high and mighty.
Talk on-till you get through.
You ain’t gonna be able to say a word
If I land my fist on you.
Come and get this man!
He’s trying to ruin the government
And overturn the land!
Headlines in press:
MAN THREATENS LANDLORD
TENANT HELD NO BAIL
JUDGE GIVES NEGRO 90 DAYS IN COUNTY JAIL!