Everyone Deserves the Benefit of the Doubt

Even if they appear to be unworthy

He is a man of few words. I see him on my morning or mid-day walks with the dog and he doesn’t wave — doesn’t make small talk — just grunts an uneven hello and shoots his eyes up toward the sky. I never pry. I don’t look for things I don’t need to find. Perhaps this is his way of survival. He walks two dogs; one, a noisy son of a bitch, the other, a genteel sweet body of patchy fur. The dog stares at them, huffs her approval, and paces off in another direction. This is ritualistic for us. Me with my limply left lower limb — she with knees that pop and ache when the weather isn’t warm. We push through the neighborhood that has shaped our lives for the last four autumns.

The noisy son of a bitch spends time on his balcony alongside the genteel sweet body of patchy fur. I guess he puts them outside to get away from them — to give them some sense of unity and comfort with their surroundings. However, we, my neighbors and I, endure intermittent cycles of loud barking. I know what it’s like to have a dog misbehave when all you want is for him or her to behave — to provide solace and peace. But a dog will be a dog, and if given the opportunity, he or she will bark. He’s speaking. He’s announcing who he is, and we all had better pay attention. But on a Saturday morning or a Sunday afternoon, it’s the last thing I want to hear.


Nosy neighbors will open their mouths.

Someone, at one point, must’ve slid their lips into the ears of the property manager because for a few weeks — nothing. I thought the man had moved. I was wrong. He is still here. The noisy son of a bitch still barks loudly intermittently and I am growing used to it, but I wonder . . . should I? Where did the man come from and what is it in him that allows him the ability to not care about his community? Don’t get me wrong, I won’t assume he isn’t caring — I am assuming he doesn’t care about those of us not close to him in relation.

I struggle with thinking things and not announcing them when I feel as though they need to be shared. I had been partially raised by a few elderly family members who often spoke their mind and well . . . I feel like one day, I am going to just say, “Hey, sir . . . why do you let your dog sit on your balcony and cry out to us? Can you not hear him or are you just ignoring him?” It is taking everything in me not to do this. I am mindful of the times in which we live, and I do not know his regular temperament.

I don’t know how he will react.

I am giving him the benefit of the doubt. He could be a father who lost his firstborn to violence. He could be an uncle who helped raise a wayward nephew, but now has custody of his grandniece. He could be a public safety officer dealing with the struggles of every type of human being you can imagine, and at the end of the day, he just doesn’t have the energy to care. He could be just old and grumpy and unfeeling.

I don’t know.

I search for evidence of happiness or playfulness when I see him, yet his eyes just squint into two tiny specks of solemnity. At every opportunity, I offer a kind, “Hello,” and I seem to pull it back into me when it has been magically swept from his ears. He lives in seconds from what I can see — never dwells in one spot too long — rushes the dogs to relieve themselves on some misguided scale he’s balancing. One day, one of them will tip that scale. I hope I’m not around to witness it.

Initially, I thought he was just having a bad day, but this cannot be so. No one has a bad day every single day. No one is ever truly discontented every single day. I had been taught to respect my elders — to acknowledge them, to help where I see the need. He doesn’t require help. He doesn’t seem to need it. He doesn’t even seem to want to be acknowledged. I steer clear of people who I cannot get a clear read on, and unfortunately, he is one of them.

I am trying to understand my place in this.

Who am I to want to know this man’s life — to want to understand how one’s brain operates to allow him to keep his barking dog on the balcony for an entire neighborhood to endure? I am no one big and bad — I have no authority, but I pay rent to dwell in this community just as he does. I also find it an actual sense of neglect to just leave a sentient being in/on a space/place where it can continue to alert people who don’t want to be alerted.

As an Empath, I crave to first try to feel another’s pain or make sense of it. When I cannot, it bests me — defeats me. There is also this air about me to cure what ails another. I am no savior and this has been a hard pill to swallow for years, but I am not. Currently, I am trying to understand my place in all of this. Am I just the neighbor who lives two buildings down and one across who thinks this is a serious nuisance? Or am I a part of this community deserving of respect, love, kindness, consideration, and understanding?

The latter is what I choose. Shouldn’t he?

I could never leave Jernee on my balcony if she were in a barking fit or even if she began barking intermittently. My first thought would be to remove the noise so it doesn’t disturb my neighbors. My second thought would be to find out what’s wrong with the little one and try to resolve the issue. I realize everyone does not have the same thought process.


I won’t assume. I shouldn’t.

Everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt. Even when we think they’re unworthy or total assholes (I grit my teeth as I type this — some people can take you to a place of utter disgust). There is always something brewing and stewing in the lives of others to cause them to act outside of our descriptions of “normal behavior.” I won’t assume this man is uncaring of others. I shouldn’t. As I stated earlier, I don’t know his life or the makeup of it.

All I can do as a person living in the same apartment complex as him is to understand the why of it all. And later, know I am not the type of person to leave my dog out on my balcony to disturb the peace. I know who I am and I know how much I care about my pet.

In time, I hope this is enough for me to breathe in deeply and know the incessant barking never lasts long — it’s just annoying as hell.


Originally published in Age of Empathy via Medium.

Hell in a Handbasket, but There’s Still Time for Autumn

One of the last trees to still sport its autumn leaves. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

This nation, as I see it, is going to Hell in a handbasket. It will be carried by the same naysayers who believe the all-knowing and loving God is for their hypocritical ways and do not oppose their actions. The God you serve is not the God I serve. My God is more than likely weeping as he watches His children carry on like fools, senselessly taking the lives of others, running amok without fair cause, and denying human beings basic rights.

You are playing a flute that holds no sound, yet you want me to listen. Where is your melody? How does it benefit me? When will it actually do something worthwhile?

We elected a president who, when it all falls down, has sided with a judicial system that purposes a select few. He has said out of his mouth, to respect the system, to acknowledge what has been done peacefully. For real? Like, for real . . . real? Acknowledge a system that has NEVER worked in anyone of color’s favor? Acknowledge a system and respect it that could not bring forth a verdict that actually makes sense?

It is 2021, yet we are reliving days of Antebellum. There is no escaping this. This is what they want. And to get to where they intend to seek refuge, they will continue to whittle us down like pieces of wood.

I’m so tired of people making excuses for America. America has ALWAYS been this way. She isn’t changing. Her ways are not so distant from the 1800s–they’re only slightly different.

I walked through my neighborhood today, still seething in anger from an unjust system. I tried to remain calm. I tried to look to Jernee for some semblance of peace. But I found it . . . in the last leaves of autumn.


**I don’t intend to argue or go back and forth with anyone about my thoughts, feelings, and opinions. I know what I’ve lived, witnessed, been forced to do, and experienced. Racism is still alive and well. I don’t need anyone to tell me what is and isn’t.

But–Had He Been A Man of Color . . .

this dated system
works for melanin-challenged
liars on the stand

there is no justice
for the black man or woman
there never will be

it’s easy when you
have what they are looking for
you get off scot-free


The American “criminal” justice system is an effing joke. How one can be absolved of all wrong-doing when it’s clearly present and lives have been lost because of it is a constant mind-blowing thing to me. But, really . . . I’m not shocked. Re: The Kyle Rittenhouse verdict.

Bottled Anger Has No Home

Masked and staring into the great beyond? Photo touched up with Comica. ©2021 Tremaine L. Loadholt

A free verse poem

there are no ways of explaining
I want the bigots of the world
to feel something other than stacks
of money lining their pockets or
fantasies of distasteful uprisings 
at their command

I want them to feel . . .

I have lived for forty-one years in
skin that makes authoritative figures
overuse power — in a body that gravitates 
toward both men and women — 
and of a gender that loses every inch
of reward as the years pile on

I’m three-times hated by the bulk
of this nation and we want to talk
about anger — the type of anger I have is
bottled up, stored for the perfect
moment — you get used to saving
your energy when you’re living
the way I’m living — you know, merely
existing, trying not to die at the
hands of a racist misogynist
gone rogue — trying not to
lose a sense of hope . . .

a sense of pride

I used to believe that if I loved
another human being hard enough
that intensity of love would be
shared with another, then another, 
and again in strings of blissful
divination, but times are harder
now and love isn’t flowing freely
as it once did for me

now, I rage silently, afflicted by
a nation that would rather stake
my body to a tree and call the
hounds — feed my fragile flesh to
their young — tell them, “She wasn’t
what God wanted anyway,” and
they’ll believe it
they’ll even pass down those
tongued lies to their children and
another generation of putrid souls
would roam this earth

black. woman. bisexual . . . three
strikes before one foot leaves my
bed every single morning
you may think, “How does one
live every day afraid to be
who she is?” and I would say,
“I have been afraid of living since
the womb let me go.”

the eternally oppressed know of
no other way

we are damned in the beginning
and further damned as time
presses forward
anger? no . . . what I have in
me for what this world is
cannot be described as anger
there is no word for it
there never will be


We are all substantially flawed, wounded, angry, hurt, here on Earth. But this human condition, so painful to us, and in some ways shameful — because we feel we are weak when the reality of ourselves is exposed — is made much more bearable when it is shared, face to face, in words that have expressive human eyes behind them. — Alice Walker


Originally published in Prism & Pen via Medium.

Turn My Body Loose

Abbott Birth by Victor Garcia. Used with permission.

A poetic rant

We, women . . . we cling to our bodies
our sense of self wrapped up in them
and warped to nothingness by the
White men who use their minds to
belittle and belie our truths at every
corner — at every junction. 
How are we to live in a nation
full of vultures?

How are we to cope?

A balking group of people has
made it their life’s work to
strip the woman of the one
thing we had total control over — the body.
And what next? What will they 
search and seize and lasso into
their slimy possession that 
belongs to us?

We are yclept weaker or lesser 
yet they use laws to silence us — to push
us into the closets of their making.
Is it fear? Is it egotistical? Is it bullying?
What can we say about the men 
who have no desire to protect us?
What can we say about the women
who support them?

Turn my body loose. You have
no reign here — it is mine. I carry it,
I nurture it — grow it into the massive
mountain you wish you could climb.
Tread lightly, though, I can shake it
and rattle you at my will. 
I can crush you if ever I feel the need to.

Were these your reasons? Is this your why?

Could you no longer take the 
strength and representation within
something built of atoms and flesh and blood
that is not solely yours?
It boggles my mind how senseless
human beings have become 
but even more so, how drunk with 
power many men are.

If it were up to me, I’d rally
the world around us to bury
your tongues in the potholes meant 
for them and turn the sun’s rays
up higher — burn, motherfucker, burn.
We’d stand by, fan the flames, and 
call Lucifer to your collective side.

We’d let him have his way with you,
just as you’ve had yours with us.


Originally published in my new publication, soliloque, via Medium.