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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Note To Self
by Chima “Naira” Ikoro

Before I leave the house, I force my scattered pixels to retract into one character in order for me to participate in this simulation. That is my morning routine.

Does anyone else feel like three kids stacked on top of each other in a trench coat and a top hat, tryna disguise themselves as one adult so they can sneak into a movie theater?
Does anyone else feel awkward? don’t know how to end conversations in a casual way when you run into someone you know in public? I rather walk away too early; it makes me seem like I’ve got it figured out.
Does anyone else get reminders to remind you of the reminder that was sent as a courtesy to remind you of a message you never saw but somehow opened?
Did everyone grow in the same direction?
Am I the only one who grew out instead of up? I am trying to understand
which things are a part of the “neurodiverse package deal” and what is just normal human-stuff, but I’m too afraid to ask because folks are too busy tryna prove how normal they are.
And I can’t blame them because I’m

doing the exact same thing.

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

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“If you could speak to a past version of yourself, what would you say?”

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.

Featured below is a reader response to a previous prompt. The last poem and prompt can be found here

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by Claire Bernstein

Us women, we hide ourselves well.
We are expert hiders.
We hide behind every curtain draped
before us, because that’s what we have
been taught to do.
It all begins when the towel envelops us
when we’re born,
muffling our cries.
We hide our voices, tears, dress sizes,
pimples, bodily functions, bruises, nerves,
sensations, ideas, opinions, thoughts, 

but mostly,
we hide ourselves. 

I want to play hide and seek but erase
the word hide from the game.
I don’t want to know what the word even means,
a jumble of thick foreign letters on my tongue.
I want my fingernails to be dripping blood from
tearing away at those curtains, and I don’t want
the overbearing need to get a manicure to fix
something broken on my body after it happens. 

I want to name my daughter Seek.
She’ll be an adventurer.
I want to hold her hand as we learn to spell
words like “powerful” and “unashamed”.
I want her to fly feet first into a world where
she won’t have to hear boys voices drowning
out her beautiful songs.
I don’t want her to begin hearing the
catcalls telling her to hide. 

Because hiding is simply the act of
waiting to be found.
We don’t need to be found.
We’re already here.

Claire Bernstein writer and theater artist from Lakeview. You can find her on Instagram @clairebernstein!

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