Sep/Oct 2017 • Vol. XXXIX No. 5 The Hybrid Lyric |

The Storm

Our landlord, a federal bureaucrat, would sit in his caracross the street at the end of the month to collect rent. He had a scarlet birthmark covering his neck and tinting the lobe of his left ear. That's what you got for a $125 a month on Capitol Hillin 1981, a landlord afraid to enter his own buildingand a 300-square-foot "garden" apartment. I did odd jobs for him: painting the long, darkbrick passageway that went past our door into the concrete yard and unpaved eeriness of the alley;and twice repaired locks on apartments upstairs that had been burglarized. One victim, a newly divorced woman in her midthirties who lived above us, broke her lease and moved out. She had dark hair in a style more suitable for someone much older, combed over on top to disguise a thin spot. In my mother's parlance, she seemed "ill-equipped to deal with life." When I called the landlord to say she had "vacated the premises,"a phrase that came out of my mouth involuntarily, he was silent for severa

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Michael Collier’s sixth book, An Individual History, will be published by W.W. Norton, spring 2012. In 2009, he received an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He teaches in the creative writing program at the University of Maryland and is director of the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference.

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Wind

By Michael Collier

Our landlord, a federal bureaucrat, would sit in his caracross the street at the end of the month to collect rent. He had a scarlet birthmark covering his neck and […]

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