1. The Exchange: To Our Flags
  2. The Exchange: The Negro Speaks of Dryland
  3. The Exchange: blue is darker than Black
  4. The Exchange: Sans Fleur
  5. The Exchange: Blindspot
  6. The Exchange: Her.
  7. The Exchange: Lint
  8. The Exchange: Reality Check
  9. The Exchange: Caution
  10. The Exchange: Rubik’s Cube
  11. The Exchange: The Path
  12. The Exchange: sTREEtS
  13. The Exchange: Butter
  14. The Exchange: The Bright Side
  15. The Exchange: Concrete to Shoreline
  16. This Empty Cage
  17. Paper Machete
  18. The Exchange: Marketplace
  19. The Exchange: One Year Anniversary
  20. The Exchange: Sunscreen Affective Disorder (SAD) 
  21. The Exchange: Immigration & Culture
  22. The Exchange: Love, Street Cleaning, & Other Myths
  23. The Exchange: An Accent Enters a Room and Says Good Morning
  24. The Exchange: An ode to Oceania
  25. The Exchange: Happy New Year

The Exchange is the Weekly’s poetry corner, where a poem or piece of writing is presented with a prompt. Readers are welcome to respond to the prompt with original poems, and pieces may be featured in the next issue of the Weekly

The Light Called You First
by Chima “Naira” Ikoro

In the beginning, there was the sound of a voice, and this voice was not calling to the light, 

it was the light. There is something that scares me about the before. 

Before I ever got here, there was light, there was sound, there was someone, and then came somethings, and afterward everyone else that ever existed as well, and not a single one of those things belongs to me. 

What if instead of grieving at a loss, I consider that the dust a memory makes is just proof that something existed? The survival of a memory means the light spoke, and the sound reached me, and I saw something that I loved so much I gained the ability—the strength—to miss it. To recreate it in my mind. To hold it, forever. Even after it’s no more, something about it materializes within me. Whatever it makes, it makes. Sometimes I call them tears, sometimes I call it by your name—but I call to it. I call to it because the light called you first, gave the idea of you the ability to be called, seen, remembered. 

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Prompt

“Write a letter from yourself in December addressed to the version of yourself that existed in January.”

This could be a poem, journal entry, or a stream-of-consciousness piece. Submissions could be new or formerly written pieces. 

Submissions can be sent to bit.ly/ssw-exchange or via email to chima.ikoro@southsideweekly.com.

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Featured below is a reader response to a previous prompt. The last poem and prompt can be found here

An ode to Oceania
by C. Lofty Bolling 

Find a valley illuminated 
A tree branch in the shade
Find the building that talks the loudest
Sways the most, until you wonder if this
Is a tree, if not simply a giant sapling?
Correction, a small tree.

Find the building that sways 
Like a nervous arm, something that 
leans and almost swings too far.
Correction, find your arm and let it
Sway, like a nervous tree. If 
It snaps, throw it away. Correction 
Throw the arm away, correction take
The arm and use it for a back bone
When you cough after crying too hard

Find a valley, illuminated
After the arm falls off, steal a tree branch 
Tape it to your shoulder, harden a frown
And melt a smile. Be like something 
Speechless. Forget what passes, let go
Make a left, at the pile of left arms left behind.

I found a valley, shallower 
My sibling is frolicking there
My mom stands hopefully, with cig in between lips
With patience (like it’s mine, I can wait) 
(If you need a lighter, give me a call)
Her valley is illuminated, like mine

I pray I see something more than a shadow 
Of the man who calls me. A name rings across
The tree leaves like a wave. I seen a few 
Branches who sit too heavy to move but, no bother
The many who do, the many who sing, who dance 
Who wish upon a star. Remember names. Light
The candles, make the stew, sit in circles. I pray 
We see something more than shadows in these life times.

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