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

When Wolves Learn Puppetry
by Chima “Naira” Ikoro 

we’d like to assume 
when a man says get behind me 
it is for our safety. 
that he’s shielding us with his body 
and not forming into a barricade 
blocking us from our blessings. 

i once saw a wolf in shields clothing; 
he lied through his teeth daily as if it was good for his dental health,
as if his words were strings of floss 
tied around his fingers.
i am unsurprised at how well he can make a puppet dance, 
he’s no stranger to pulling things in his favor.

get behind me, he’d say 
stand behind
my shadow. it will shield you from the sun, 
will keep you cool when your own light tries to warm you,
will stop you from photosynthesizing
so you don’t grow too big for your current pot.
wouldn’t want you to break it. 
wouldn’t want you to need something else.
wouldn’t want you to accidentally discover 
that there is more.
that you can be bigger than him.
who will protect you if you outgrow him? 
who will protect you, an unspoken threat, 
a challenge, 
when he demands you get behind him 
even if you don’t fit back there anymore.

we’d like to assume 
wolves can be as friendly as dogs 
but that is a myth.
we forget that they agreed not to eat us as long as we fed them.
isn’t every living thing just meat? 
flesh to be flossed from between teeth,
and aren’t you just another thing wrapped around someone’s finger like string?

Chima Ikoro is the Weekly’s Community Builder.

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“What do you refuse to be deceived by?” 

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

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by Vernique Dyson 

Silence has always felt appreciated in dawns embrace
Like the way nature can barely bare the sound of hustlers, I used to dread mornings
I started my days with cups of tea filled with last night’s tears and raspberry 
Mornings ain’t feel new since hopscotch and barrettes 
Playgrounds turned to Twitter feeds around the same time I learned being dark-skin ain’t a walk in the park 
I was lost 
Lost somewhere between consumption and capitalism 
Found peace in crystal-clear visions of myself before the conditioning 
Wishes are no longer distant 
Dreaming doesn’t just happen in REM 
I didn’t just survive 
I lived 
I don’t wish upon stars 
I walk like I am one

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by Jana Weiss

burn the day 
hang it up turn it off let it slide 
carry it to the end of the slope 
let it slide 
where the last bit of care 
lingers quietly, stark 
stretching out unfulfilled 
touching anger, salt, fear 
touching feeling 
to rub scrubby bits 
off your legs purple dirt 
scratching layers of skin 
etched away falling deep 
creeping into your flesh 
can i rise 
burn the day 
hang it up 
turn me down 
let it slide 

i read in a manual 
that’s how it’s done

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