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

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.

This special edition is more than just an exchange. It’s a marketplace where readers and writers have traded in an array of poems in response to a prompt that serves as the guiding theme for this Literary Issue:

“How do you practice and experience radical self-love, revolutionary thought (or action), or the reclamation of freedom and community?”

✶ ✶ ✶ ✶

ratios by C. Lofty Bolling

Determined to be equal parts poem and person.
I crawl into syntax like my double sided comforter
a comforter is comfortable and I recon
with my ambivalence very gingerly in the mornings.
before returning to bed, a choice, equal ratio of desire and intention,
work and rest
my morning coffee takes any shape it needs before we open our doors to the world.

✶ ✶ ✶ ✶

Black People Deserve Beautiful Sentences. We Really Do. by Arianne Elena Payne

I returned to righteous riots, a realm
of crossroads for a college grad.

Chaos. Niggas violated
cause we had been violated. The bars

of the beauty supply bent like a wilted
bouquet, a topsoil of glass for a dad.

We wanted justice. My mom made gumbo
in waiting. Fixed a thick roux dark as Truth.

The okra seduced the onions & delivered
bell peppers covered in an ancestral storm.

Andouille sausage rolled dice on the corner
till the chicken came home to stew.

Fabulous, flush, & late—the shrimp
strutted in. The rice was seated.

An experiment in searching for warmth,
this meal caressed a desert

as if to say, I don’t have the answers
& I’m as scared as the fire is red—

but I have this heart to share. I imagine
my granny packed a pot for her daughter:

this mirror now veiled by hard love showing me
beauty as what I was born for. Outside, designs

for tomorrow, endings like grass blades,
a hood heavy with sentences.

✶ ✶ ✶ ✶

Not Your Good Girl by Shivani Kumar
after Dr. Eve L. Ewing’s “what I mean when I say I’m sharpening my oyster knife”

Can you hear me
being a good girl, mouse girl
speaking over your catch-all catcalls.
Glove me. Scalpel me.
Precisioning soul deep scars
over your lazy-tongued eyes.
Don’t look. Don’t touch.

Can you hear me
dropping poems
on your floor, down your throat
leaving you
wondering how grade school innocence grew
legs bronzed, mind goldened,
existence quick-silvered.
You must hear me take to my skies
ink soaked, tresses blazed, skin silked.
A flight you can no longer board.

I hear me
allowing you to think
you slipped your fingers into my mouth. But I
swallowed you whole before
you learned to speak. Before
you could stumble through my syllables
carrying my lineage’s legacied lore;
too bad, too loud, too messy
to hold still on your confused tongue.

✶ ✶ ✶ ✶

From the dregs of my soul to the poor—
The Jade Diamond
by Lou Heron

A tree is drawn
to the meaning of waiting
and earth is held there to knowledge
by the rain

that leaf contains a triumph
to alter as the observer perceives
there—once a leaf
now a sparrow
held there to knowledge by the rain

Place a small bowl within the foliage
and sparrows will build their nest at the azimuth
for all to see

Sentient beings then shall walk through leaves chanting

two stone lions embark from stasis
trans-versing golden straw

Where sages study the organ of dreams
to make conscious the field
giving birth to infinite awe

Together now! What she does is she—on earth
held there to knowledge
by the rain

✶ ✶ ✶ ✶

Everyones on strike by Imani Joseph

Working like a bee for free
Waves crash in
Abundance or scarcity

Big up sleeping till noon
Getting my life together
May be a hot meal

In summer storms
the wind is sharp enough to drink
High up my room is nicely chilled

I will keep the bonfire fed
All night in between the function
Picking sticks off the ground

The lake gives off a breeze
Tanned ashy n glittering
Everything swoons in shade

I read novels in glumps
Biting into juicy pickles

My needs
A silly treat a day
Keeps the depression at bay

It’s the time of lonely months
Dating multiple accounts
I be up overthinking dust

I wish the buses weren’t this crowded
Up late going south a beautiful person
Close to me smells like tea tree

When’s the last time we haven’t practiced
Capitalism my neighbors hate gentrification
As much as we hate littering

✶ ✶ ✶ ✶

A Father’s Dreams Disguised as You by Claude Robert Hill, IV.

One tree.
Father and son.
The same deep roots.
A future disguised as waving leaves.
Those precious times
spent together.
A daddy with his dream.
A mini version of himself.
His blood.
His immortality.
Love wins.
Son, never forget me!
As you go forth and become…
The man that you are destined to be.
To become more than me.
My dreams and
Your dreams realized.
You are the Divine twinkle in
my proud father’s eyes come alive.
My future with you in it
is a treasured gift from the loving divine.
This is why I am glad;
that you are mine.
You are the reason that I cling to life.
You are the motivation behind my eyes.

✶ ✶ ✶ ✶

Join the Conversation

1 Comment

  1. That Arianne Elena Payne poem… good like it meant to break your heart good. “a hood heavy with sentences” forever and ever. amen.

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