poetry
autumn/winter 2018

Legion: For We Are Many 

by Valerie Smith

Anthony Hill

The mission—aborted in the desert of memory— 

uncovered a six-pack rippling in the sun, exposed

a war-torn mind to the elements. Anthony Hill was found 

wandering The Heights at Chamblee, exotic and in the wrong 

place; his genitals mistaken for a cross-hairs target and gun.

 

Neighbors called for help. They called for him,

exhausted, climbing the complex like an obstacle course: 

pull-ups over balconies, low crawling through Georgia pine, 

gripping for sand between his fingers. He knocked on doors 

the way he used to search for children to keep safe. A cloud 

of witnesses watched him crouch in the middle of the street 

like a hairless cat. 

 

Anthony Hill, no longer contained by the mundane 

like clothes and apartments, could not pull back 

the pop-pop-pop-pop-pop, or discern the direction of bullets 

echoing hollow in the wind, or fix his own mind over matter 

long enough to change the facts to fiction, the foes to friendlies. 

The best drugs mixed death-by-cop with gunpowder, 

stacked and packed in the barrel of his brain.

 

Officer Robert Olsen arrived on the scene.

March 9, 2015: Suspect acting erratic. Olsen did not respond, 

Keep still boy, no need for static. He did not command the situation 

to run off a cliff, or exorcise the demons hiding in his skull. 

Olsen’s methods, manic and panic, prepared him 

for a new brotherhood: Honorable service

reduced to felony murder.

 

Blood spilled onto the blacktop, 

calm and collected. Anthony Hill: 

mission completed.

 

Valerie Smith is a poet and creative nonfiction writer currently completing her PhD in English at Georgia State University. Her poems have appeared in South85, BlazeVOX15 and Exit 271: Your Georgia Writers Resource. In 2017, her poem "Back to Alabama" was selected for publication in Auburn Avenue's Autumn/Winter 2017 issue. 

AUBURN AVENUE

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Auburn Avenue is an Atlanta-based, 

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the intellectual and creative voices 

of people of color.

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