Death of a Fruit Fly

Small and annoying, buzzing
nuisance multiplies within
minutes.

I am armed with apple cider vinegar,
citronella candles, and patience,
yet I cannot defeat them …

A concoction: honey, water, and
red wine vinegar, microwaved
for twenty-five seconds is their
burning bed.

The dog watches me as I
run around my apartment placing
little cups of this trap in
certain spaces.

I never thought I would
be so happy to witness
the death of a fruit fly.

I Will Bring My Table if You Refuse To Let Me Sit at Yours

And I won’t ask for your permission

Photo by Clarke Sanders on Unsplash

The most disrespected person in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America is the black woman. — Malcolm X

I have learned, in these last five months after venturing into applying for writing positions (once again), that as a Black woman in America, this industry is crucial — a rigorous trail of dangerous terrain, and many of us will not pull away from it without broken ankles or worse — a broken spirit.

I have applied to countless organizations, entities, magazines, and journals. I have updated, tweaked, upgraded, and enhanced my résumé hundreds of times. I have submitted examples of my writing, samples of copy as per requests, and details of my experience and longevity within the industry. Yet, I stand before you, jobless in the field I have dreamed of making my full-time career choice.

I want to tell you that this is my first time with these results, but it is not. And I know I am not the only one. The older I become, the harder it is to gain traction in the world of creative arts — particularly literary content, and every time I find the strength to give it one more go at it, I get the wind knocked completely out of my sails.

So, what is different this time around? I know what I can offer. I am aware of my potential. I am not afraid of a challenge or hard work. I can pursue intense and controversial topics, interview big names relative to various subjects, and do all of this in a way that will connect the reader and bring them back continually.

However, I have gotten several proverbial doors slammed in my face because I do not fit the model the company seeks; I am not interested in writing solely for marketing purposes. I refuse to write about or attach my name to something I do not believe in or advocate for, and the list goes on.

The tables they have designed for those seeking to eat among their peers have no more room. Or is it simply what they lead us to believe?


Why are we almost always at the bottom regarding pay in most job markets?

I work full-time in healthcare. I am a central scheduling specialist for radiology. To make it plain, I schedule radiology scans and interventional radiology/invasive procedures for our patients. The job is not one for the weary or faint of heart.

I commend my love of words and for people regarding my ability to build rapport, remain empathetic, and ensure a timely and effective scheduling process for our patients.

I will be honest. The pay is not what I would envision for the tasks and overall processes we have to endure, but I love my job.

Am I stressed out on some days? Sure. Do I wish it would get better for me and my co-workers? I do. Would I want to do this job with any other group of people? No, I would not.

The people I share these tasks with are exceptional and we are a rainbow of glorious individuals who show up daily to do what we do best; give patients a remarkable radiology scheduling experience.

Healthcare has been the backbone and most convenient way to keep me afloat, while writing always held its own on the sidelines. I have never gained enough to fully sustain and live comfortably from writing.

You may be saying to yourself, “Why do you think this should change?” I have always felt my heart speaks more when I am writing. My mind is at ease — anxiety is curbed significantly.

And the monetary comparisons are laughable. I can earn more by editing and publishing, and submitting commissioned articles in one month (whenever applicable) than I can in healthcare scheduling.

When I step back and look at the overall differences in pay gaps and wages for White men, Black men, White women, and Black women, I am left speechless.

In an article by Michelle Holder entitled, Addressing the ‘double gap’ faced by Black women in the U.S. economy, the author states:

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics detailed this double gap in June 2020, releasing data on average weekly and annual salaries broken out by race and gender:

White Men: $1,115 weekly, $58,000 annually
Black Men: $828 weekly, $43,000 annually
White Women: $929 weekly, $48,300 annually
Black Women: $779 weekly, $40,500 annually

This is wage inequality by race and gender in a nutshell. — Michelle Holder, November 30, 2021

We, Black women, are at the bottom. The average salary for a healthcare scheduling specialist position in North Carolina is $16.19 per hour as of August 22, 2022, according to Zippia.

If we go further into it, for my state alone, we share the bottom rungs with Hispanic women and Hispanic men, with women of color making up about 35% in North Carolina.

If the current trends continue, working women in North Carolina will not see equal pay until 2060! — NC Council for Women and Youth Involvement

Where is the fairness in the statement above? Will there ever be pay equity for women, more specifically, Black women?


I have to be a sounding board for others and bring my table when there are no more seats left

Although I have not gotten my seat at the table of writing, I am making moves in order to bring my own table and invite others to sit with me too. I am unafraid to be vulnerable and authentic. I share my experiences. I let people into the parts of my world where I feel a connection will take place.

“When one door closes, another one opens.” In my case, I can say, “When hundreds of doors are closed before you, build your own, then knock it down.”

I have this unstoppable quality marked into my making, and I cannot see myself “taking a knee” because I am being forced to.

Women writers outnumber men writers in the United States of America. However, we are still paid $0.96 to their $1.00.

Writer Demographics and Statistics in the USA
  • There are over 46,256 writers currently employed in the United States.
  • 53.8% of all writers are women, while 46.2% are men.
  • The average age of an employed writer is 41 years old.
  • The most common ethnicity of writers is White (78.9%), followed by Hispanic or Latino (7.4%) and Black or African American (6.0%).
  • The majority of writers are located in New York, NY, and Los Angeles, CA.
  • Writers are most in-demand in New York, NY.
  • Writers are paid an average annual salary of $66,143.

The above stats have been derived from Zippia and are the most recent analysis for Writer demographics by gender, location, and race.


I will not ask for your permission. I don’t need it.

Many writers come and go. I have broken bread with editors, authors, poets, and content creators. I converse with struggling journalists, Black women in Tech, and Black women freelance writers. The “game” was not designed for us to be on top.

No one will say this out loud — this information is the “quiet part” about which we should not speak. It is a thing someone continually forces us to move through, and when we arrive, they mount another obstacle for us to maneuver.

There are countless Black women in various job markets who can stand in front of you and say they have had to pivot to entrepreneurship because no one else would hire them. They are carving out spaces for themselves because countless doors have been closed in their face. They are currently pulling themselves up into the spotlight and bringing a few of their colleagues along because they know what the struggle entails.

I am at the age now where I fervently believe that it is high time for me to construct my table, sit it alongside the path of others, and help catapult Black women writers to where they want to be.

And I will not ask for anyone’s permission — not anymore. I don’t need it.


Originally published in An Injustice Mag via Medium on September 07, 2022.

Cleveland

Flash Fiction Musical Selection|Erykah Badu: Orange Moon

Photo by Julian Myles on Unsplash

Me and her pops had a big fight. I’m talkin’ — the kind that makes a brotha take a step back and think about what’s about to go down before it goes down — that kinda fight. I respect my elders — I got manners, you know. My folks raised me right, but I was just so damn tired of him puttin’ thoughts into Ruthann’s head about me — how she can do better than me.

I mean… Ruthann loves me. She ain’t tryin’ to hear what her pops is sayin’, but I hear him. I see the look on his face when I walk through their door. He hates me — literally hates a brotha.

And listen, I don’t normally feel that intensely about what other folks think of me — but this means something to me. I can’t put my finger on it just yet. But having her pop’s approval is at the top of my list.

Ruthann looks at her pops like he made the damn world. He is the sun, moon, and stars — hell, the entire universe to her. He has her heart and for three years; I cracked at the wall around it and I finally got in. I can’t have him reversing that shit, you know. I’m in there now, and I plan to stay there.

I ain’t stupid. I have my wits about me, and I got plenty of sense. Her folks don’t want her settlin’ down with me — don’t want us intermingling. My people — her people.

They can all pass. You know what I mean, right? They’re light as hell. They are the lightest Black folks I know. Ruthann is sugarcane colored — gently kissed by the morning sunlight. Her eyes are emerald green. Her lips are two finely sliced pieces of sweet flesh added to her face for effect.

When I first met her folks, her mother didn’t even say hello to me. She said, “Boy, you are the color of burnt molasses,” sucked her teeth, and walked off. Her pops looked me up and down — measurin’ me with his eyes. Dude ain’t need no ruler. I knew exactly what he was thinkin’.

I looked around their home — noticed the fine china, the furniture that didn’t come from IKEA, the barely walked-on floors, and the chandelier that dangled above our heads.

Somebody’s blood was royal, and it wasn’t mine.


I never thought I’d fall in love with a girl whose folks hated other Black folks. How much do you have to dislike yourself to look at people of your race like you want to sic the county dogs on them and skin them later just for fun?

Ruthann memorized this quote from Toni Morrison, she tells me sometimes. She tries to get my mind off the drama of her family, but I can’t stop thinkin’ about that shit. It consumes me. She’ll just say it as smooth as her lovely mouth can form the words, and I kid you not — I feel better.

“The function, the very serious function of racism is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being. Somebody says you have no language and you spend twenty years proving that you do. Somebody says your head isn’t shaped properly so you have scientists working on the fact that it is. Somebody says you have no art, so you dredge that up. Somebody says you have no kingdoms, so you dredge that up. None of this is necessary. There will always be one more thing.”

And she’ll go on further, “Baby, it ain’t racism in our case, it’s colorism. And I don’t give a damn about who’s lighter than who or who’s darker than who. You know what I give a damn about?” And I play into this every single time, like the man in love that I am. “What, Ruthann? What?”

“I care about you. I care about us.”

The anger leaves me just as quickly as it seeped its uninvited self into my bones. I sink into the tightness of her embrace, and I allow her to be my peace.

She is my peace.


Photo by ziphaus on Unsplash

The fight started because I asked Ruthann’s pops for her hand in marriage. Ha! Listen, I was scared shitless! I sat down in their “main room”, across from the old man, and rubbed my sweaty hands together. My breathin’ was off. My heart was racin’ at the speed of light. I kept stutterin’.

He just sat back in his chair, chest all puffed out like he was some damn washed-up Avenger waitin’ for the call back into action.

“The Shield Family is cut from a different cloth, boy. Ruthann will not marry into one as simple as yours. We have standards. I want what’s best for my daughter, and Cleveland Mabry, you are not it.”

I don’t know what happened — I just saw red. And before I could stop myself, I raised up out of that chair, charged toward her pops, and lunged at him with an anger I couldn’t pull back.

He jumped up, took three steps away from me, and looked like the last days were pouncin’ on his heart. I thought the old man had seen a ghost the way he removed himself from my line of sight.

Ruthann had been standin’ on the other side of the room — just outside the doorway. She heard everything. She had tears in her eyes that were streamin’ down, linin’ her dimpled cheeks.

I hated to see her cry. I told her when we first met that I would never do anything to make her cry — not intentionally. The last thing I wanted to do was make her so mad that tears left those beautiful gem-colored eyes.

I walked over to her, placed my hand within her personal space, and she stopped me. She held up one hand, looked at her pops, then looked back at me. What she said next… floored me.

“Daddy, you do not decide who I will marry. You don’t get to approve or disapprove. You don’t get to design your life around mine to further infiltrate your beliefs into what I deem beautiful within this one life I have to live. If Cleveland wants to marry me. Then we will be married.”

There’s something about a woman standin’ up for you without your consent — without your awareness before it takes place. That night, I fell even more in love with Ruthann.

What the hell were two twenty-three-year-olds going to do on their own without her family’s financial support?

We were going to survive.


She moved out of her folks’ place and we carried everything we could to my house. I’d called my mom on the way over. She wasn’t happy, but she wasn’t mad, either.

We have a spacious, fully furnished basement. It was nothin’ to turn the area into Ruthann’s room.

My pops looked at me like the world had landed itself on his shoulders when I got outta the car. It was like he was tellin’ me something without sayin’ nothin’. And after the day I’d had, I just couldn’t play mind reader.

I walked past Pops and into the livin’ room, placed Ruthann’s bags on the floor, and led her downstairs to the basement where she could get herself ready for dinner.

When I came back upstairs, Pops was standin’ right there — arms folded — body language sayin’ a firm, “There’s only one man in this house, boy,” and I heard him loud and clear.

This wasn’t gonna be our home, either.


After dinner, I walked Ruthann down to the basement. I told her exactly what I knew I needed to. I watched her dancin’ eyes, her radiant smile, and her regal presence lean in to give me her full attention. The room smelled like her — like jasmine and fresh rain — like sage and Nag Champa. I choked on my words.

“We… we can’t stay here. Ain’t nobody said anythin’ yet, but it’s comin’. And Ruthann, I’d just rather not be here when it does. I’m tired of runnin’ into storms because we love each other. I’m so damn tired. Tomorrow, I’m gon’ pick up an extra shift at work for however long it’s gonna take to save up and get outta here.”

“So, you think you have to do this on your own? You don’t. We are a team, Cleveland. I’ll pick up a few more hours at the library, and I’ll make a significant withdrawal from my savings account. We are going to be okay.”

At that moment, I knew I’d made the right decision. I knew the woman who stared back at me with eyes of emerald green and skin matched by the glimmer of first light would be with me forever.

Because it felt like the right time, I slid the ring from my pocket and got down on one knee. I looked up at her — a lump formed in my throat — my hands got sweaty. I took a deep breath in and said, “Ruthann, I would like it very much if you chose to stay with me for life. Would you marry me, please?”

I could feel a smile growin’ on my face — one that settled there longer than it probably should have. I was safe. She said, “Yes.” Actually, she said, “Come here, silly! Hell, yes!”

And every time I wonder what will happen to us — who will try to separate us because of where we each come from …

I sink into the tightness of her embrace, and I allow her to be my peace.

She is my peace.


Originally published in Lit Up Magazine via Medium.

Why Can’t We Be Better Human Beings?

I wake up with three strikes 
against me every morning; 
I’m Black, a woman, and bisexual. 
Before I take my first sip of coffee, 
or walk my dog or relieve 
the pressure my sinuses issue 
daily, I am a prisoner 
of a wrathful world.

There are some who deny 
the evil lurking within the 
shadows of our inhumane selves, 
but I see the anguish lining 
the faces of people struggling to 
live in the skin clinging to 
their bleeding flesh. 
Some of us have been yelling 
at the top of our lungs for 
decades; left with bruised voices.

Can you hear us? Are you listening?

Back when I dwelled in 
the closet, I messed around with 
a woman who had been 
“passing the time” with me — living 
out her fantasies. 
She’d learned this behavior from 
her father, who learned it from 
his own, and the cycle continued 
with her. I was a thing to 
lean on and in when her main 
source of comfort wasn’t around.

I have always been someone 
for people to try on, see if I 
fit, then exchange for a better 
model when that model is 
available. 
This is not the fault of 
one person, it is the birth 
of a damaging generation that
doesn’t know how to change or 
if it even can.

Why can’t we be better 
human beings? 
What’s stopping us? 
We would rather torture 
the helpless, bomb the harmless, 
and manipulate the oppressed than 
work in harmony toward solutions 
to make life easier for everyone.

I used to believe in love as 
the strongest antidote for ailments 
of any kind, but now … I am certain 
we need this world to shift in 
an entirely different direction if 
we have any chance of surviving.

This cruel world hammers away 
at the beauty of love. 
It grinds it down to dust and 
sprinkles it over our wounds. 
It wants to see us fade away — never 
to be heard from again.

When a nation can silence a woman, 
shoot and kill innocent children, 
brutally beat people of color 
into submission, and oppose 
legitimate elections, we have 
lost all sure footing.

And love stands patiently in 
the shadows waiting for us 
to reel in our senses.

I wake up with three strikes 
against me every morning; 
I’m Black, a woman, and bisexual. 
Before I take my first sip of coffee, 
or walk my dog or relieve the 
pressure my sinuses issue 
daily, I am a prisoner 
of a wrathful world.

This shouldn’t be, and we know it.


©2022 Tremaine L. Loadholt

I was invited by the July guest editor for SETU Magazine, Candice Louisa DaQuin, to write a poem for its theme of “Colours of Love and Barriers”, and the above is what came to me. I am honored to see this piece live in SETU Magazine, published on Saturday, August 06, 2022. Thank you for reading.

Dead in Akron

An Audio Lamentation for Jayland Walker

Photo by bimo mentara on Unsplash
Dead in Akron by Tremaine L. Loadholt

90 shots fired?
90? 90? Are we sure?
Could be a little more
Could be a little less.
Who’s counting? When it’s
us, who’s counting?

You can’t be Black and young
and afraid of authorities in
America, it’s ammunition
for their ammunition, and
you will never win against
their numbers.

The system was designed to
hunt us like deer
draw our slain bodies from
the scene, and mount us
above their mantels;
prizes for their buddies
to gawk at.

There are checks being
cut for the officials
who can sell the most
bullshit in the darkest times
and the 1% has scrambled to
collect their due.

While we continue to
drop like flies, letters
lacking empathy are issued
to grieving families and lawyers
prepare themselves to seek
the highest monetary amount
possible as though money
resurrects the dead.

What do you do when
you’ve become numb to
the constant pain that settles
in your bones?
It’s there, you know it’s there
but now … it lingers
like a reminder, one you
claim as a task to get
rid of, yet …

You never will.


©2022 Tremaine L. Loadholt Originally published in soliloque via Medium.

“After a car chase, Walker got out of his car and a foot chase took place, police said. Officers believed Walker was reaching towards his waist and they ‘felt that Mr. Walker had turned and was motioning and moving into a firing position,’ Mylett said.

Walker, however, was not armed, Mylett said Sunday.” — Samantha Beecher & Dakin Andone, CNN News