- The Exchange: To Our Flags
- The Exchange: The Negro Speaks of Dryland
- The Exchange: blue is darker than Black
- The Exchange: Sans Fleur
- The Exchange: Blindspot
- The Exchange: Her.
- The Exchange: Lint
- The Exchange: Reality Check
- The Exchange: Caution
- The Exchange: Rubik’s Cube
- The Exchange: The Path
- The Exchange: sTREEtS
- The Exchange: Butter
- The Exchange: The Bright Side
- The Exchange: Concrete to Shoreline
- This Empty Cage
- Paper Machete
- The Exchange: Marketplace
- The Exchange: One Year Anniversary
- The Exchange: Sunscreen Affective Disorder (SAD)
- The Exchange: Immigration & Culture
- The Exchange: Love, Street Cleaning, & Other Myths
- The Exchange: An Accent Enters a Room and Says Good Morning
- The Exchange: An ode to Oceania
- The Exchange: Happy New Year
- The Exchange: NEW GROOVE/LODESTAR
- The Exchange: Wolves, Strides, and Landslides
- The Exchange: Honest Haikus
- The Exchange: Foreheads, Haikus and More
- The Exchange: Softness, Water Bottles, and Movie Theaters
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.
“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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.