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

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…
the safer. 
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. 
remember those
protective layers?
i wear sunscreen even in the winter.
all the layers in the world cannot hide me from 
the sun— 
the happiness that i am constantly told 
i am making light of, 
but i wish i could hold it—the light—and absorb it. 
become 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 
your mind 
everything should be smooth. 
why won’t you let the sunshine fix you?”


Prompt

“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 chima.ikoro@southsideweekly.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.

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