When the Reader highlighted “Madam and the Rent Man” by Langston Hughes, Common Good contributor Devin Bustin was compelled to write a song from the perspective a rent man, a worker who catches a glimpse of the system that pays him. A flash of empathy leaves him asking what he can repair, what human debt he owes as a kind of debt collector. Hear the demo here.

Click the image to hear the “Welcome (Demo)” on Devin’s Soundcloud!

Welcome (Demo)
by Devin Bustin

The mat said, Welcome
without discretion
to me, the rent man at the door

My note said, Notice
in bold italics
I halfway hid it ‘neath the rug

Because I just worked there
Don’t shoot the messenger

Back at the office
I got her message
Her voice so quiet it was loud

She asked for two weeks
like it was mercy
but it was time not mine to give

Because I just worked there
Don’t kill the courier

Air conditioner
Water heater
Washer dryer
Rats in the cellar
Furnace rattle
Trash disposal
Spitting shower head
Leaky faucet
Crisis toilet
Flooded basement

I had the standard list
of things my boss would fix

And it would take
more than maintenance
to fix this.

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