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

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 Poem Is Definitely About Movie Theaters…
by Chima “Naira” Ikoro

i would never admit to being afraid of the dark. 
if walls can speak,
i’m sure they learned those words from listening.
i don’t want to give them any ideas.

in a place where the sounds the walls make surround you 
anxiety finds inspiration;
the manifestation of things 
i never knew existed, let alone feared. 
someone taught these walls how to use language, 
how to imitate the sounds of the human voice like a parrot,

and i am petrified
knowing they’d only ever repeat things they’ve heard me say. 

Chima Ikoro is the Weekly’s Community Engagement Editor

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Prompt

“If walls could talk, describe a place or room that would have the most to say about you.” 

This could be a poem, journal entry, 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 is a reader response to a previous prompt. The last poem and prompt can be found here

Ode To my Old Water Bottle
by Stuti Sharma

Cursed soft heart that is always looking for something to love 

That cried over the old water bottle that is now sitting in my trash. 

Oh blue water bottle with too many stickers on it, saved me from the white lady I worked with at the library who wanted to say something racist so I said “Sorry, I have to go fill my water bottle” and took ten leisurely minutes filling it up because it was so big 

Blue water bottle that held my secrets, my loves, my travels—my REI sticker with a van and cactus and the sky that said “Let’s get lost”—hilarious considering I get an anxiety attack any time the GPS shuts down on the road. A spiderman sticker I was going to give to an ex before we ended things. Ponyo and Princess Mononke staring up at me from a sticker that a stranger at Pitchfork gave me the summer my cousin died—she handed it to me and said her name was Hope. 

Water bottle, you have been my constant companion, taken on my first flight since I left Kenya at five years old to DC last summer, carried through the highest point of the Badlands, through the mountains of Wyoming, in my tent under the rain, accompanied hiking under pine trees hundreds of years old and 

reminder that I, too, will one day return to the earth but will always need to be watered. 

Water bottle who Tanvi had the exact same type of and we’d always laugh and say “Twins!” whenever we went hiking together. 

Water bottle, you were my reminder in the past three hellish years that no one is coming to save me except for myself, that I must get up and be my own hero, and some days that looks like successfully filling a water bottle up three times. 

I have a metal pink Hydro Flask now, a strange class indicator. I will miss your transparent blue that the sun caught on good days and would turn into a rainbow. Water bottle, what a beautiful life I’ve had, what a pleasure it’s been to have you in it.

Rugged for softness
by C. Lofty Bolling

I am executing all the parts of me that
Reject softness and its bellows. Give me release and flowing water
Let the incense smoke fall and i’ll eat lunch in 
The other room. I can’t fathom disturbing its peace of mind and motion.
I find a hole in myself that is fragile. It is 
So tender to the touch. I haven’t nursed a wound
In so long it took so long to even excavate the 
The scar. I just needed to be alone to realize
The sensitivity. Give me charcoal and ash for the dust bath 
I’ll shower in the night time, im over due for rest by day break
Chicago winds brush the dust off me but i still feel the weight, still
I still feel the burden of resentment and its development, still
I feel the ache of a lonely bone wishing to feel resonance through 
Another’s skin. I got orange peels scattered in my room
A Colombian lover boy once told me they bring good luck.

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