- 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
This section publishes creative writing submissions from the public that do not necessarily reflect the views of the South Side Weekly or its editors.
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.
by Chima “Naira” Ikoro
you could wake up one morning and realize the most life-changing thing ever;
you are out of butter.
your spouse tells you that they’ll pick some up on their way back from work but you’ve retired
and you’re having a lazy morning anyway so
you need a task to keep you from collecting dust
when you settle back in
and get back to those tomatoes growing slow and steady
or the strange show your grandchild insists you watch—
you wanna go get the butter yourself.
so you brush your teeth,
press the silver lining that sits on your crown
into your favorite shape,
a jacket, for the windchill.
a piece of gum, in case there’s traffic.
whatever soft and folding thing your money is in.
you drive to the
it’s so funny, you swear,
every time you go to the store for one thing you leave with 10.
then a man in the parking lot
offers to give you his cart.
you say no thanks,
grab a basket this time instead, don’t wanna set yourself up
and when you’re picking out cereal
your favorite stocker comes and ducks next to you
to put granola on the bottom shelf.
you call her by her name, ask her how her day’s going.
it’s going. normal. today is just a regular slice of life.
then man walks into the aisle,
he asks where the cream cheese is, she says it’s in aisle duh-duh-duh near the butter
and you remember that you came here
so you put the cereal in your basket
and you walk down and grab
a four pack of sweet cream unsalted butter
and you make it to the checkout line,
pat yourself on the back for not lollygagging for as long as you normally do
you realize what was so life changing about this butter
when you reach out to pay.
a man walks into the store.
among his many grievances, he has a toothache.
and you are standing right at the register, as brown as your wallet. you have card and cash.
he decides you need to pay for it with
Chima Ikoro is the community organizing editor for the Weekly. She last wrote about segregation in Chicago.
“How do you stay afloat amidst the storms and waves?”
This could be a poem 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.
by Justin Dismuke
around the house like dust
hides from me under covers
full of razor sharp memories
bitter as lemon peals
The heat of her silence is stifling
our frigid conversation
condenses mist in her eyes
stranded in the volatile
space between us
It’s not you