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
  26. The Exchange: NEW GROOVE/LODESTAR
  27. The Exchange: Wolves, Strides, and Landslides
  28. The Exchange: Honest Haikus
  29. The Exchange: Foreheads, Haikus and More
  30. The Exchange: Softness, Water Bottles, and Movie Theaters
  31. The Exchange: Algae and Understanding
  32. The Exchange: we like it here!
  33. The Exchange: tag & waiting
  34. The Exchange: spare
  35. The Exchange: Marketplace
  36. The Exchange: some coffee
  37. The Exchange: A Scary Story
  38. The Exchange: Consumer Report
  39. The Exchange: Affirmations and Sunflowers
  40. The Exchange: Autopay and A Fast Summer
  41. The Exchange: Squirrels and The White
  42. The Exchange: The Taj Mahal and Rutina de Sueño
  43. The Exchange: The Garden
  44. The Exchange: Jess Taught Me My Body Is Trying Its Best
  45. The Exchange: Jollof Rice and Losing it
  46. The Rotation
  47. The Exchange: Definitely late, but here, and Doubt

This section publishes creative writing submissions from the public that do not necessarily reflect the views of the South Side Weekly or its editors.

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Caution and Its Fineprint by Chima “Naira” Ikoro

Only nineteen percent of the time 

the perpetrator 

is a stranger. 

The other eighty-one percent 

dropped me off at my doorstep, waited, 

and made sure I made it in 


Chima Ikoro is the community organizing editor for the Weekly. She last wrote about segregation in Chicago.

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“Write a piece that challenges misconceptions about a struggle or hardship that you’ve personally experienced.” 

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 chima.ikoro@southsideweekly.com.

The last poem and prompt can be found here.

✶ ✶ ✶ ✶

The Pigs Must Starve! By Imani Joseph

Shaoxiong “Dennis” Zheng hadn’t been in Chicago long, but his murder on a street in Hyde Park has resonated across a city facing its second straight year of rising violence

{I remember when they closed 49 elementary schools in 2013/ I remember when 51 Black women went missing, and no major news outlet reported it/ I remember Rahm Emanuel covering up the murder of Laquan McDonald in 2014/ Him appointing Lori Lightfoot to the CPD board in 2015/ And her becoming his successor in 2019/ I remember a 95 million dollar police academy and a coverup/ I remember summer of 2020 when Lori Lightfoot raised the city bridges/ I watched my friends fall into the Chicago river/ I remember running for my life/ The pigs blocking off the train entrances and hoarding us into dark alleys/ I remember seeing the Christopher Columbus statue being torn down/ I remember being knocked down as the pigs sprayed tear gas/ I remember the baton beating down on me/ I was told my partner carried me on their back to the train/ I remember so much violence but still think I imagined it].

The University of Chicago, where the “bright and talented” Zheng recently got his master’s in statistics, called on the mayor and police superintendent to treat violence as a “public health crisis”

[Displacement is violent/ The university of chicago owns the land/ They hear the tentats screaming/ And when one of their own people is hurt/ They release the pigs on us for slaughter/ I’m sick with anger/ When I spark the end of a blunt the open smoldering end looks like the sun/ Breathin n’ hizzin smoke/ The wind waters my eyes/ Sweeps the ash away/ Sometimes I feel like I’m wading in ash/ That I’m filth/ Ass to earth/ Root or unrooted/ Sometimes I buck so hard I scratch myself at night/ One time it was just the bed bugs/ Eating my ass alive/ I’m so sad I could smoke a black n mild/ I’m so scared I could eat the sun].

Shootings in Hyde Park have more than tripled this year to 16, but that’s still low compared to Woodlawn, the community area to the south. Woodlawn has seen 83 shootings so far this year, an increase of 150% compared to the same time in 2019

[My childhood was demolished for mac apartment complexes/ Push us out/ Move us South/ Pacify the natives with PPP Loans/ My plug doesn’t deliver to King Von’s 63rd anymore/ That summer our dryer caught fire, burned a hole through the ceiling/ If only our landlord would field our calls/ Next door they are building mirror houses/ The construction woke the field mice/ We are infested/ Ash rains down on me/ I was walking home one night as they were laying out the caution tape/ They had just cleared away the body/ I couldn’t smell death in the air it was too cold/ Niggas burn so bright/ Laquan McDonald is a star/ And I’m a freedom fighter/ When a nigga is shot his body vibrates like a star/ Burnin n’ bleeding soul slooply out on the street corner/ Pigs always come to clean us out/ I get frustrated writing protest poems they are never ending/ I recite poems to remember reality]. 

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who lives in Hyde Park, asked, “When is enough, enough?” and called for “an immediate and urgent response to the violence.”

[The expansion of downtown hyde park is a public health crisis/ The university of chicago is violent/ Fear mongering pigs disguised as politicians/ They starve black students, shutdown Black schools, n’ steal Black land/ I’m sick with anger/ My niggas will rain down an abundance of abolition/ Lightfoot will burn]. 

[Pigs cause violence] Lightfoot’s 2022 budget promises to boost funding for an array of violence prevention programs [She fed them 1.9 billion dollars]. But the violence has stubbornly stayed high [This is a set up/ They are raising the bridges/ I’m 15 again being thrown down the marble stairs of city hall/ My tongue is a knife/ My name is a poem if they kill/catch me]. 

This is a state of an emergency [Niggas die everyday g 

University of Chicago students aren’t allowed to tho].

Imani Joseph is a writer from Woodlawn. You can find her on Instagram @itsssssimaniiii!



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