He knows that the landlady will never be convinced with his black complexion and he senses that she might slam down the receiver anytime.
At such a crucial juncture, he makes a desperate and silly attempt pleading her to come and take a good look at him but could not prevent the situation from getting any better.
The price of the room and the location, among other essentials, are agreeable to the man.
During the course of the dialogue, the man gets to know that his privacy would not be hampered as the landlady does not stay on the premises.
Then the moment comes when the man has made up his mind to consider the offer.
But right before he declares his interest in renting the place, he mentions to the white lady that he is black.
This came out to be entirely devastating for the man, and for a moment he felt disgusted with the question and fancies himself to be a machine, like a phone, and that he has been reduced to being a button on that very phone.
He could also smell the stench from her words and sees “red” all around him.
The context of this poem is of a black man from Africa trying to find accommodation, it is based on his experiences as a student in the 1960’s.
The poem is written from the perspective as a phone discussion between him and a landlady.