Beat You Like You Were Fred Waterford

There are times when the anger
is so deep I find myself reeling
in the emotions to keep from
jumping down the throats of
the people intent on believing this
nation isn’t racist anymore.

What world are you living in exactly?
Our bubbles can be safe places
but when one starts implying
trouble happens elsewhere and
everything is “fake news,” I call
in to question their ability to
be an actual human being.

It must feel good up there on
the pedestal of privilege.
It must feel real good.
You don’t have one care
in this world–no concern of
being attacked or harassed or
beaten like you were Fred Waterford
and hung on a wall for neighbors
to find while they’re mowing
their lawns.

Tell me, how can you call
a lynching on an oak tree suicide?
How?
This nation is designed to
mock and murder its minorities
and make sure the role of
“subordinate” stays that way.
“Here’s a small dish of manavelins
to hold you over until the next
batch of bullshit is released in
our favor. Stay tuned.”

America is built on the backs
of its oppressed and yet, America
acts like this fact is fiction.
“Sweep it under the rug.”
“Move that elephant out of the room.”
“Take history away from history.
This isn’t true!”
All the golden boys want their
golden girls to live in
an hour of disbelief.
This suits their blueprint.

But we are here to disrupt it
and shine light on what should
have been the focus centuries ago.
This nation is weeping; she cries
for her lost children; taken by the
hands of the blasphemers and
the pseudo-righteous.
She cries for her spirit is torn.
She cries because her soul is weak.

“Yea, though I walk through the
valley of the shadow of death,
I shall fear no evil.”

I shall fear no evil.
But evil better damn sure
fear me.

The Fantasy of You Still Haunts Me

I slept seven hours and one half
from Friday night into Saturday morning
and would’ve slept even longer
had I not awakened to the
feeling of you lying next to me

I thought I’d outgrown fantasies
of you exchanging your current life
for one I can provide–
that I’d been rid of seeing you
when I don’t need to

“The world doesn’t need another
love poem”
but I’m beginning to not give
a fuck about the world
It’s much too busy breaking
character or running wild because
being unmasked is a form of freedom
and I am far too consumed with
keeping my tongue tied and
staying away from props that
send me into the past

How are the children
is the first question I would ask you
I miss them more than anything
I realized the other day that
three different birthdays over
two separate years have passed
and I haven’t been able to
catch their smiles

I hope you tell them good things
about me, that I had a purpose
in drifting away
That I was trying to save my heart
If you’re wondering . . .
It isn’t working
I saw a woman on North
Peace Haven the other day . . .
jogging
I glanced only but I’d know
your doppelgänger when I see her
and she was it

I damn near crashed my car
I spent thirty minutes trying to
talk you out of my head
Two hours later, you were gone
Until today . . . Until this morning
and I wonder if it’s because
I’m going to do something today
we spent time doing in Baltimore
that digs every memory of you
up and sticks them to my
soul

I am tired of wondering where
I stand in your world
even after I found the strength
to leave, your magnetic pull
senses me
I just want to wake up
in the morning
Shit, shave, and shower,
and show you the door

The problem is, though, I
keep opening it and you . . .
well, you always walk
right in and take over
my heart

The Lingering Effects of Parental Divorce

It Changes Everything

Big sky. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

He used to call me baby, that was his way, until . . . Until he had to leave. I was twelve. Twelve years old, wondering what I did wrong. No one could tell me. I wasn’t old enough to be in the middle of the conversations birthed between adults. And as a Southerner, you listen to your elders. You heed their advice.

So, I thought my light had faded — if Daddy wasn’t calling me baby anymore . . . Who else would? Who else should? Was I even still deserving of that term of endearment?

My mom had been piecing together our puzzled lives. We had become the church feature — the company billboard for broken homes. They wanted me to tell the boys. To let my brothers know our family had collapsed. But how could I? I was still trying to figure out who was going to call me baby — still trying to find the reason why he had to leave.

I had an inquisitive mind so naturally, I wanted to know what went wrong and if I was it—the wrong that suddenly swarmed our home . . . was I it?!

I turned to my mom as I so often did during times of distress to perhaps pull the truth out of her . . . “Mom, what did I do?”

In the funk of a lead-ridden home, my words were useless. They did not exist.

I did . . . I did.

I still lived amongst the shadows of decrees and halves—“You’ll get them on this weekend, I’ll get them on that weekend . . .” And so on and furthermore. We were split in two. Halves of a whole. Soon to be halves of a half. Quartered. We had been made into pieces — cracked instantly on direct impact. No one would put us back together again.

I wasn’t old enough to be in the middle of the conversations birthed between adults.


Time shifted — we all grew up and out of our old selves. When I was nineteen years old, another girl was born. This one, you know very well. When she was sixteen, I realized, you had more years with her. You don’t forget her age. She doesn’t have to remind you. You’ve been to every recital, every honors night school function, and every church-affiliated soirée. I’ve often thought, it is better this way. She gives you purpose. She doesn’t question why you left — she doesn’t have to.

She could turn a corner and find you right there — waiting . . . waiting to hug her. Waiting to hold her. You had been the pillar in her dreams — strong enough for her to lean on — safe enough for her to discard her fears. I wish I had that. That . . . security and assurance. I dream of it to this day but it is not within my reach. That ship has long since sailed — I stand at the dock battered by the untimely waves.

I wandered far away, lost myself in the clouds above my head, searching for the years before the when that stultified my efforts in loving you and scattered all of us away from what was concrete. Nothing has been what I hoped it would be. Growing up without you—salty taste lingers in my mouth, a hint of envy . . . A bit of jealousy.

She had the traditional family unit— nuclear . . . Functional.

I’ve often thought, it is better this way. She gives you purpose. She doesn’t question why you left — she doesn’t have to.


The funny thing is, I say I am grown — I am mature. But truth be known, I still can’t talk about this without breaking down into a tear-consumed toddler who isn’t getting what she wants. And this, I am told, is normal or expected. Divorce. Divorce. Divorce squirms all up in my bones. I twirl the words on my tongue and the tears fall. They fall . . . I wonder if it does the same thing to you—it does not. It cannot.

And maybe, that’s why we’re estranged. That’s why we’re still holding on. No . . . That’s why I’m still holding on to pain and the moment you’ll once again call me baby.


©2016 & 2021 Tremaine L. Loadholt

This essay originally began as a narrative poem that had been published in In Two Minds on April 24, 2016. Its revision is now hosted at Age of Empathy via Medium. Thank you for reading.

watching the fallen (revised)

nine-year-old girls aren’t
supposed to walk
in on their mother
losing her mind

they aren’t raised to
bear witness to the fallen
but she watched

and she knew her
mother would never
be the same

this became her gift
learning what to avoid

an adult before
her time

yet still engaged
to a world that
overlooks her and
neglects her efforts

she’s grown but not
mature enough to
understand the ways
of this world

“You can love someone
for years and never
truly know them.”

she thinks this to
herself often
is she giving too much
is she taking too much

who will accept
all of her knowing
she’s been through
hell and back

knowing she’s watched
the fallen and
has tried her
best not to fall too