“My Ode to the Spicy Lollipop”
This is how my lollipop tastes: It has chile, four layers, and there is gum inside. The gum is really blistering. I can already feel my tongue on fire. I hear the firefighters. It is round and hot like the sun. I cherish my gum so much that I think I just broke my tooth. It hurts so much. It’s too spicy. It tastes so good and delicious and healthy and hard, but still so good. The wrapper is red and has a face of the spicy lollipop with sunglasses.
Only those of us who come from you
understand. Even within the inner core of your
madness there is beauty. This is the side of you that has never been seen.
Today they say bad things about you, their reports are
short-sighted, good to suit the taste of today’s sensations.
But I still love you Englewood. Your harsh realities became the chisel
that shaped my soul. I didn’t forget about you Englewood, Dear Englewood
We made your vacant lots playgrounds
Milk crates were carved and cut for full court
Old sneakers became street ornaments that dangle
From your power lines
Your fire hydrants transformed our corners into water parks
at dawn we pitched pennies along the cracks of your concrete
Dear Englewood… your blocks were our universities
Your corners became the designated location for our panel discussions
your night-time skies were our philosophers,
your alcoholics were our poets, but only those of us who come
from you would understand. In the spring your rain drops
became our libations, the rain water that accumulated in your potholes became our wishing wells. I often think of you Englewood…Dear Englewood what would our lives have been like if you weren’t economically deprived? Would I have had fewer friends who lost their lives? Would there have been better schools and parks?
Would I have seen fewer lives fall apart?
I eyed widely
things I couldn’t buy.
“Nice!” and “New!” nosed, but no.
MISSING PEOPLE. People-missing.
Below something, behind peepholes.
I would too. I have to. I have two.
Flipped sign. Closing time.
“Have a good one.”
Man can go to the moon, but a person who is DeafBlind drinks a glass of water, and people say it’s ‘Amazing’!”
The delivery work was kind of hard on me. Those sacks of rice and potatoes could get pretty heavy. Most times there was another boy on the truck to help out. On this particular day Micah Lieberman worked with me. He was a couple of years older than me, and bigger. Had dark, curly hair and seemed to be smiling all the time. He lived several blocks from me. We saw each other mostly at school, but we weren’t really close friends.
Jason Schumer, Ellen Hao
The cover of our fourth annual Lit Issue offers a sort of visual game to its reader: can you reconstruct the original photo, before it became collage? Say, is that the cover of a book by Albert Camus? What’s with those books repeating in the top corner? It’s not really a game you’re meant to win: the artwork offers literature in motion, bringing history into our present—and onward, into our future.
Vida Cross’s Bronzeville at Night: 1949 is full of spells—spells to protect children, spells to blind ignorant sociologists, spells to aid in grieving and remembrance. The poet, professor, and third-generation Chicagoan’s debut poetry collection is a web of stories that, like spells, are small in scope and broad in impact.
South Side Weekly Stage & Screen Editor Nicole Bond recently had a chat with children’s author Senyah Haynes. Haynes is the Founder and Executive Director of Diasporal Discoveries, a nonprofit that connects youth to the history and culture of the African diaspora. In this conversation, what started out as two old friends catching up over coffee turned into a discussion about the role and responsibility of literature to its youngest audience.
Three summers ago, Chicago writer Valerie Reynolds realized that she never saw smiling Black boys on television.
One of my uncle’s friends who is my friend too asked us to give him a kiss to the cheek…When I tried to do it, he turned his head and I kissed him on the lips instead of the cheek. That’s when I learned not to trust everyone.” Cung Lieu wrote this reply to Krystal Nambo after she asked him to share about a crazy memory he had.