- 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: Wolves, Strides, and Landslides
- The Exchange: Honest Haikus
- The Exchange: Foreheads, Haikus and More
- The Exchange: Softness, Water Bottles, and Movie Theaters
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.
The Other Side
by Chima “Naira” Ikoro
If you are reading this, congratulations, you made it.
Or you didn’t, and you’re a nosy ghost
peering over the shoulder of a person holding a newspaper
or scrolling on their phone. Either way,
the odds have been defied.
They say that ghosts can’t read but I’ve seen odder things.
Said chickens can’t fly but
maybe they only do it when no one is looking.
I heard both chickens and ghosts
are just trying to get to the other side.
Heard the same about you, too. You
kept waking up even when you didn’t want to,
good thing you have no control over that,
but I’m still here to congratulate you.
God chose to wake you up and you
have managed not to cancel that order. Or
you tried but His card already went through. Or
you tried to place an order of your own and your card declined.
Congratulations, you are broke, so all there is left to be is fixed.
We’ve tried everything else. Congratulations,
you could tell the chickens and ghosts and the warm face of any pillow
about all types of other sides. Like the time that thing happened,
or all those things happened,
and you just kept waking up every day
because sometimes it’s all you could do.
You continually met the other side of days and weeks and months
until they all ran out,
until you reached here, on the other side of another year.
Congratulations. Congratulations. Congratulations.
Chima Ikoro is the Weekly’s Community Builder.
“come celebrate with me that everyday something has tried to kill me and has failed.” – Lucille Clifton, won’t you celebrate with me.
Take a moment to write a piece in celebration of your continued survival.
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 email@example.com.
Featured below is a reader response to a previous prompt. The last poem and prompt can be found here.
I Don’t Want to Sit at the Bar Tonight
by Shivani Kumar
Let me tie my hairs back slick, pull
my sleeves up tight because I’m in the business
of undoing my days, loving on myself, taking sweet time.
On the clock, I turn water into wine, melt sharp
red onion slivers and tart lemon slices, rind and all,
into jammy candy sticky on all ten of my brown fingers.
Settle a sizzle of Sunday chicken in my cauldon.
I’m brewing magic
in my kitchen, in my home, in my world. In your mind
I say yes to pulling up stools at the mahogany bar —
we can do the chophouse on the cheap sneaky
you say. This time, I say no. I say I’m in my Sunday
best believe I’m wearing my grandmother’s gold.
This time, I say no you see, I’m taking myself
for a night in my kitchen, in my home, in my world
sipping on my homegrown, new town company.
Let me set the scene, table set with my clearance porcelain,
thrift store crystal holding candles raging a welcome.
This time, I say no you must see I am the guest,
the host, the lover, the joint lighter, the finisher,
the seducer, the gentleman, the I’ll get your ass back
sweet talker. This time, I say no you best believe
I’m lighting the damn candles where I live and burn.