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
  49. The Exchange: “Unexpected” and The Institution of Dreamin

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

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Squirrels by Chima “Naira” Ikoro

someone spoke to the squirrels and asked them what they wanted
when all the trees in their neighborhoods became foundation for pavement and new libraries.

they never asked to learn how to read or write,
instead, they asked to be taught how to wield a weapon.

The Squirrels have evolved, they grew thumbs so they could hold guns,
after all, so many people have come to power by force and not by learning the histories of people they planned to destroy anyway.

when the squirrels became anthropomorphic, the first emotion they felt was anger.
ask them what they really want, and one day they might say revenge.

one day, humans will look back and recall when squirrels would only conceal and carry
acorns in their mouths.
you took for granted the days when all they ever wanted was trees.
took advantage of their inability to hold anything aside from small pieces of food
and now they are holding a grudge,
asking questions with words you never taught them to say.

The Squirrels have sent an ultimatum to the people
say they spent years counting
and we are outnumbered.

say they never knew a thing about control until we showed them what being selfish gets you.
say “now, we have your neighborhoods surrounded,”
say “your houses are made of wood too,”
say “anything can be cut down as long as someone has
the power to.”

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“What is constantly changing? What has always stayed the same?”

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 response to a previous prompt from a reader who is currently incarcerated.

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Chima Ikoro is the Weekly’s Community Builder.

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