- 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
I’m Only Addressing What is Permanent or Pretends to be
by Chima “Naira” Ikoro
I have lived away from my parents house for 4 years total.
I moved back with them one last time for about a year,
and then my fathers ego practically packed my bag and signed my lease
so I left again.
Plus, I can’t keep giving my mom anxiety about when I’m coming home at night.
I have never lived in any of my apartments for longer than 15 months–
my current place,
with a sublease shorter than a full-term pregnancy;
I have aborted and abandoned so many buildings.
I say i’m going home,
and every time the earth completes a rotation
that means a different place.
My mom and my sister visited me today, and when they pulled up she thought the address was wrong,
I said “no,
this is where i live now,
but my lease ends in less than a month.”
It’s hard to keep track—
one time, I just moved buildings.
They were so close together, I moved all my stuff alone on foot.
I didn’t disassemble any furniture,
I asked for help,
but no one showed up.
You know I’m long acquainted with making shit move all by my lonesome,
so much so
I am an object in motion, staying in motion
Tapping my feet, twiddling my thumbs,
fleeing flats and friendships all the same.
when an employer or a doctor asks for my permanent address…
I always give them my parents’.
My many apartments are my home, but that is My House™,
they don’t have to renew their lease.
They own that structure until they are ready to go
or until the bank decides they want it back.
My parents know a lot about committing.
They stayed married although they don’t even like each other,
because they “said so.”
I could never commit to a front lawn or a property tax–
it’s hard to see past all the debt and destruction that accumulates when you stay for the wrong reasons, yet for some reason
I still hope to recreate a version of it
that comes without the fear of foreclosure
because it is just that stable.
But I am so afraid a partner might leave me when I finally get comfortable,
that i keep at least one box still packed
just to remind myself
I could leave at any moment.
I want to commit like my parents, not just because we said so but because we like each other, too,
and we want something permanent
to address when we get
I love that House because most times
I don’t know where I’m at or where i’m going,
but I always know exactly where I’m from.
I’ll probably never move back,
but I know that when i’m sick or lonely
my key will always work. I just need
one thing that always works
and I’ll be okay.
All of my mail addressed to the same spot, received by my mother
and waiting on the coffee table,
because she knows I’ll be back Home,
Chima Ikoro is the community organizing editor for the Weekly. She last wrote about The University of Chicago’s division from the community.
“Your mind and your body are your house; how will you decorate and care for them this year so they can feel like your home?”
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. The last poem and prompt can be found here.
by Yvette Marie
She walks with a feeling of self-respect,
Knowing her past.
Changing her present.
Controlling her future.
Let’s face it—she’s on top of her game.
She’s a sister that’s got it together.
What’s her name? What’s in a name?
That in which is her name is an essence that stands alone.
So what do I call her?
I call her Young Queen.
I call her my friend.
I call her…
Yvette Marie is a poet from Hyde Park.