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
  48. The Exchange: KonMari and Yoga
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by Chima “Naira” Ikoro


My uncle called us while we were sitting in an IHOP after church 13 years ago to tell us a branch had fallen from our family tree before it had the chance to grow a single fruit or see her flowers bloom. 

I remember where in the restaurant we were sitting and I remember what song played in the car as we drove home and what seat I sat in and what window I looked out of and the things that we passed and which street we were driving down as the news fell over my head like dead leaves do you see how grief

clings to the binding of your life like lint. And I wash and I brush and I wash and I wash but it never lets go.

And I wonder if she even remembers me as if that’s even a thing–as if memories can remember. Like, if she can remember then she also could be looking at me right now. And once I turned older than her, seeing my own fruit immature, my own petals still stuck to one another, the lint I’d thought I’d dusted away was right back where I last saw it.

Chima Ikoro is the community organizing editor for the Weekly. She last wrote about CPS’ back-to-school conundrum.

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“Think about one of your most vivid memories. Why do you remember it in such detail?”

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.

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Featured below are two reader responses to a previous prompt. The last poem and prompt can be found here.

With me
by Armani Rogers

I keep all pieces with me. Heirlooms of different times logged only by their significance to me

Extensions of me I call them. Badges for the rite of passage in my mind
Sometimes blemishes
Sometimes broken
The souls never left
I still carry them with me
For they are pieces of my soul

Some are parts of others. Given in a heat of the moment exchange. Airing grievances or hoping for a better union.
Acts I come to cherish as they bare new life
As part of me
It’s painful but I’m not in control of that. Face the music

Some I make my piece and share to others.
I let them go like they were my ideas given life
Ready to leave the nest in my head
And give new meaning to someone’s life
I’ve had my time now they must live with you.
And the next
Or maybe die

Like everything, they come with cycles
Here today and gone tomorrow
Nobody is ever sure when either happens but it does
It just does.
I can say I’m happy with that
Knowing that I don’t know
Bits and pieces leave me and make space for new in my ever-changing existence
These phases can’t be helped

They are with us until they are not

Armani Rogers is an artist from Chicago Lawn. You can find him on Instagram and Twitter @koifshhh

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Not my Baby by Kathy Powers

It’s finally back to school.
We’ve been holed up and
Buried our dead. Forever bound
By COVID surges.

Liefoot prepared her testimony
The schools are safe, as she
Installed unopenable windows
At a Rogers Park high school.

Go back to school the blame-and-shame
Mayor decreed, “The schools are safe,”
With unvaccinated teachers and students,
No soap, supplies, and knock-off HEPA filters.

She decried, “Expect some casualties,”
It’s because of the teachers.
The bully mayor ordered
In-person learning will prevail.

I care about your education.
The nervy CTU demands remote learning.
I hold hostage your laptops
And lock out teachers.

I’ve been perfectly clear:
The schools are the safest.
Homes are the spreader culprits,
Not our Aramark-cleaned schools.

Back at school, staff, students, parents
Sickened and died from COVID.
We no longer hear false school bells:
Not us, our babies, or our parents!


Kathy Powers is a writer from Rogers Park. You can find her on Twitter @KathyPowers2020

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