- The Exchange: To Our Flags
- The Exchange: The Negro Speaks of Dryland
- The Exchange: blue is darker than Black
- The Exchange: Sans Fleur
- The Exchange: Blindspot
- The Exchange: Her.
- The Exchange: Lint
- The Exchange: Reality Check
- The Exchange: Caution
- The Exchange: Rubik’s Cube
- The Exchange: The Path
- The Exchange: sTREEtS
- The Exchange: Butter
- The Exchange: The Bright Side
- The Exchange: Concrete to Shoreline
- This Empty Cage
- Paper Machete
- The Exchange: Marketplace
- The Exchange: One Year Anniversary
- The Exchange: Sunscreen Affective Disorder (SAD)
- The Exchange: Immigration & Culture
- The Exchange: Love, Street Cleaning, & Other Myths
- The Exchange: An Accent Enters a Room and Says Good Morning
- The Exchange: An ode to Oceania
- The Exchange: Happy New Year
- The Exchange: NEW GROOVE/LODESTAR
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.
Sunscreen Affective Disorder
by Chima “Naira” Ikoro
My friend tells me when he lived in a warmer state where the sun shined more often than not, people wondered how he managed to still be depressed.
in another context, astronomers and astrophysicists will tell you
the further you are from the sun…
i wonder if
the closer you are to whatever we’ve convinced ourselves is the source of happiness
the more it burns.
when you become more scarred than healed,
the closed wounds
become blackened and hyper pigmented by UV rays.
the Sunshine State, of mind
mimics a round pill,
rounder than the sun or the moon,
pulls like the tide the closer it gets to all that you are un-shore of—
a sun bleached mind,
a spotless mind,
a flower bed, a tanning bed, a death bed, all communing around the fact that “at least you have somewhere to lay your head”—
the bright side.
scalding and warm.
the blisters keep you up at night so you don’t miss a thing,
not even the people you moved away from
or the ones you brought with you and buried in your closet
next to your winter jackets.
i wear sunscreen even in the winter.
all the layers in the world cannot hide me from
the happiness that i am constantly told
i am making light of,
but i wish i could hold it—the light—and absorb it.
instead, on some days it just blackens me and burns me.
“you should be happy, look how bright it is outside, on the other side, the grass, the smiles, the sky
everything should be smooth.
why won’t you let the sunshine fix you?”
“Describe a mountain in your life that others often see as just a molehill.”
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 email@example.com.
Featured below is a reader response to a previous prompt. The last poem and prompt can be found here.
When my lovers ask why I don’t write love poems anymore
(Ever see a fire consume a fire)
by C. Lofty Bolling
You ever see a tree commit suicide; try to unearth itself
Use its many branch as arms and pull the ground away
a creaking, a moaning, until a pop, I fear
My pencil will snap, I will reach for the pen (as I always do)
But I fear the ink will simply vanish from the page,
Float up into the air in front of my nose and vanish like
Tired Smoke. My pen will suddenly disassemble. and be scattered
Out in every direction in which it came from.
I’ll reach out to grab that which I can in those milliseconds
Move a spirit through a body, through a spirit one at a time,
through one space, into many spaces, dispersed
I will exodus the flesh in a flash, expand into many directions
I will fit in many spaces. I will, without haste disassemble myself,
scatter across a nation, try to grab what I can.
In those moments, a fear will suddenly vanish.
The trees will remember the tale. Of the gurl braver
Than fire, who tried to rewrite a nanci’s story. I feel
From my web, the grounds suddenly vibrate with rage
and dissipate. Roots don’t forget but
Can’t name the wood grain, nor the age
But I play this harp with pride
After I obsess over the leaves, turning
To say less, and do more
I am the love poem
C. Lofty Bolling is a gentle semi-giant from the South.