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.

Hearts of Burden

Hearts of Burden, created with Canva.

Musical Selection: Bishop Briggs|River

Hearts of Burden

Fiction

She examines the tips of her fingers — her nails . . . she’d let them grow too long once again. Tonight, she’ll clip them. That’s what she’ll have on her schedule for a Friday night. Among watching whatever series her perusing eyes land on, courtesy of Netflix, and washing two loads of clothes — she’ll clip her nails. She lifts each finger closer to her eyes, scrutinizing them equally. The beds of her nails are splitting. There are hangnails on at least three fingers on each hand. What do they say about hangnails?

Most people experience hangnails when their skin is dry, such as in the winter or after being exposed to water for a prolonged period. A hangnail can become infected if exposed to bacteria or fungus. — Healthline

And this is what she gets for pruning in the tub several times this week. Mika’s body had been aching — her left leg shot twenty seconds of intense pain through her entire lower limb hourly. Her old high school athletic days were coming back to haunt her: iliotibial band syndrome, arthritis, headaches, and neck cramps. On top of all this, she and Zee had broken up just two weeks ago. She promised herself she would not sit around and sulk on her days off. But what is she doing? Sitting around . . . sulking . . . on her days off.

Just as she was thinking about Zee, her phone rang. The Rolling Stones’ Miss You blared through the device’s speaker louder than normal. She’d changed the ringtone three days ago. It seemed fitting at the time. She blows a huff of air out of her weakened body and answers the phone.

“Hey, Zee. Did I leave something at your place?”

“Hello, to you too, Mika. No, you did not. I called to see if you wanted to go to The Ladies of Neo-Soul concert on Sunday. Regardless of what we are now, we still love a good time.”

“This Sunday?! As in two days? Who’s headlining?!”

“Yes, Mika. This Sunday . . . Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Cleo Sol, Alex Isley, India Arie, and Amel Larrieux.”

“Are you shitting me?! Of course, I want to go! How much are the tickets?”

“The not-so nosebleed seats are $115.00 each. If you’re up for it, truly up for it, I’m on the promotional page now. I can buy the tickets.”

“Yes! Lock it in, Zee, please! I’ll get the money to you next week.”

“I didn’t ask to be paid back. I offered. You accepted. Let’s leave it at that.”

The tone . . . It’s always Zee’s tone that crawls up the spaces of Mika’s temples and crushes them until they throb. Why is there always a snide attitude? It’s not just with her — it’s with everyone. But it was also this same tone that attracted her to Zee — Zinobya Adamson. She fell for her within moments after meeting at a Funk Festival four years ago. At the concession stand, she’d purchased a corn dog, waffle fries, and an iced tea. She turned around to get some napkins after crowding her food on her chest and ran right into her. Iced tea, a mix of ketchup & mustard, and waffle fries’ crumbs landed on Zee’s The Roots’ T-shirt.

Mika apologized profusely, but Zee dismissed it simply with, “It’s no big deal. I have two more shirts just like it. I purchase multiples of my favorite things for this very reason. I mean . . . you just never know, right? I can change after I get my order.” Mika recalled that day just as it was yesterday. She jumps out of her mind and back to their current conversation.

“Zee, do you always have to be so dismissive? So . . . whatever-ish to people? I know you offered, but it is also good manners for me to offer to pay my half, especially since this isn’t a date.”

“So whatever-ish?! Mika, please don’t start. This hypersensitive shit is one of the main reasons we aren’t together anymore. For the love of God, you’re from Yonkers! You can take a few blows to the chest and give them just as well as I can. Let’s not act like you can’t.”

Mika sighs into the phone. Another argument. Out of nowhere. And it hasn’t even been ten minutes. She licks her bottom lip, sucks in a full breath — straight from the diaphragm, and quickly gets the details for the venue, time, and where to meet for the concert. She doesn’t want to waste her night seething in anger from this conversation.

“I’ll come to pick you up. The show starts at 7:00 p.m., so I’ll be at your place by 5:30.”

“Nah, Zee. I’d rather drive myself. So, we can meet up at the front entrance of the venue and I’ll spot you unless you spot me first.”

“What the hell, Mika? I can’t come to pick you up now? Wouldn’t it be wiser to take one car, get there, get parked, and already be with each other instead of looking for one another?!”

“Just the same, I’d rather drive myself.”

“Okay, fine. Meet me by the two columns in front of the center by 6:00 p.m.”

“Cool. I’ll see you there. Thanks for offering.”

“Whatever.”


She tries to remind herself what caused her to fall for Zee — it comes in and out. The reasons hover over her and she remembers: she’s confident, smart, independent, originally from Miami, FL, can cook like her late grandmother, and never hesitated to show her public affection. When she was with Zee, people knew it. They had been a beloved couple — there was no hiding — no sneaking around. They were free, and she loved that feeling.

Sunday arrives quicker than she imagined. She has belly butterflies, a nagging headache, and her sinuses decide today is a good day to be annoying. She will let nothing keep her from this show. A chance to see Zee again so soon after the breakup — a chance to be near her . . . she wants this. She even thinks she needs this. The headache and sinus issues will be combated. She is going to this show.


Mika steps out of her midnight blue SUV. Her multi-colored Dunks match her tie-dye Peanuts T-shirt. Her jeans are fitted with patched holes in the knees. She has medium-sized bamboo earrings in her ears and is carrying a rust-colored clutch. She spots Zee just as she locks her car. Zee struts toward her — body wrapped in a sky blue sassy romper with matching color stilettos. She is carrying a black clutch with accompanying black accessories. She looks amazing! Mika nearly trips over her own feet, walking to meet her.

“You . . . You look good, Zee. You look damn good.”

“Thank you. You look good yourself, Mika. But then again, you are always sharp in anything you wear. I like the Dunks.”

“Thank you. I like that romper. You better be glad we aren’t the same size cuz I’d be raiding your closet for that one.”

“Ha! Your words only. Are we gonna be civil tonight?”

“I think we can manage that.”

“Okay, then. Shall well?”

“We shall.”


The ladies make their way to the entrance. Zee presents the tickets for scanning. Their clutches are briefly but thoroughly searched. The night is young, and the music settles into their hearts. Zee locks her arm around Mika’s and plants a kiss on her cheek. Burdened by their past, could they be stepping into a future?

YouTube

Originally published in soliloque via Medium.

You Should Take More Chances

A letter to myself from a moment of clarity.

Image created with Canva. Words, ©2021 Tremaine L. Loadholt

If you were to ask me what more do I wish I had, I would tell you . . . courage. Courage to face my fears. Courage to be uninhibited in the face of love. Courage to give more of myself in my writing — to denounce holding back. True, I do share myself with the reading world and true; I find it important to be vulnerable, but some things I wish to lie out and which are completely bare, I . . . hesitate. I shoot for the moon but always miss — my aim isn’t what it used to be. I’ve lost my touch.

There is a woman — there’s always a woman or a man, yes? Isn’t that how most stories go when we’re reminiscing or thinking about what we could have done differently or what we may have missed? There is someone or something perfectly placed within our path to mislead — misdirect us. But, there is a woman. She is new. And she could be someone on loan to me for a short while to lend what my life needs at this moment. Or, she could remain here for an entire season and a few more seasons to come, but who knows? She is here now, and I am terrified.

I wish I could explain what the issue is or how I have merged into this lane of fear, but these days, building new friendships is harder for me than they’ve ever been. I am debating with myself daily on what I should and shouldn’t do and the sanest part of me is louder . . . I should take more chances.


The worst isn’t always the outcome.

What do you have to lose? Everything you’ve gained has had struggle related to it and this should not be any different. So she doesn’t know the biggest parts of you yet — that’s life. These things arise and gift themselves to our newest members with time. Day by day, bit by bit, reveal who you are. It’s scary, yes! It’s completely and utterly horrifying, but she will do one of two things . . . Stay or leave. And you will not know which one it will be until you open up your mind and break down the wall to let someone else in.

The thing with new people is, when you’re queer, coming out is a constancy — something that doesn’t disappear. New people will get to know that aspect of you and you will have to remove the cloak and make the big reveal. There is never any fanfare and no one is around to throw confetti and play your favorite 90s rap songs, but . . . it will happen. And when it does, the moment you fear most, the “will they stay or leave” moment you shiver down to your toes about will introduce itself. Will this person be a lifer or will they shift away from you without the tiniest bit of acknowledgment?

I am debating with myself daily on what I should and shouldn’t do and the sanest part of me is louder . . . I should take more chances.

Of course, you think about the worst that could happen because there have been so many situations with the worst outcome in the end, but then again, there have also been outcomes of acceptance — of love — of understanding. Every new person isn’t a test drive dummy to see how strong they are in the face of the sweetest taboo. Stay here in the baby steps of things for just a while longer. If she’s ready to walk and you’re no longer afraid to move away from crawling — get there, but . . . don’t rush.

Everyone doesn’t need the biggest parts of you. You can give them morsels. They’re easier to chew.


You are a strong enough writer to do more.

And what do I mean by more? Those children’s books your friends and family members keep suggesting you write — that type of more. That one creative nonfiction essay you’ve been meaning to pen and submit to The New Yorker — that type of more. The poems you have built up in your heart, leaking out of your mind, and filling up space in your soul you state will be your next collection to publish the traditional way — that type of more. You can do this! This is what you do! You write!

What are you really waiting for this time? What else needs to occur to allow you to move forward with making at least one of these things happen each year? What?! That good old friend of yours, yup — fear. Listen, didn’t you say a couple of years back you would not allow fear to take up residence in your mind anymore or in your heart? What happened to that person who was coming out of her shell, refusing to be cornered? I had a great time with her. She was cool. Bring her back.

I find it important to be vulnerable, but some things I wish to lie out and which are completely bare, I . . . hesitate.

Life isn’t always going to be this fresh and this full of hope and ready for you to spelunk and take full advantage of it. You must strike while you can. Go explore the caves of this world — take your laptop.


“Fifteen minutes at a time.”

You still carry this phrase with you from one of your older cousins. It helps. It works. It gets you where you need to be each day, and I want you to use this phrase to help turn things around in your life for the betterment of it. With her — let her in. Give her a chance. But, accept what will be with things: a friend or a partner or nothing. . . Go into it knowing you are learning a mystifying yet beautiful creature and you have every right to.

However, don’t search for anything you don’t really want to find. Fifteen minutes at a time each day — you never know, maybe this is what you need to push you out of the pit you dug for yourself of late. “Slowly. Surely.” If love — any form of love is there, don’t walk away from it.

Write through it all — that’s what you do, isn’t it? Write it all out in a way that connects with the masses — that fuels their very souls. Pitch a publication here. Submit an article there. Don’t let the past rejections continue to board up your creative walls. You must keep them free from shade. Do what you know you can. Write your broken, loving, misguided, disruptive, combative, and intense heart out, child. Write it out!

Go get what is yours and what has been designed for you. Stop reviewing it in your head and allowing it to slip away from the tips of your fingers. Bring it to life. You can do this. You can. You were born into this world for “such a time as this.”

What happened to that person who was coming out of her shell, refusing to be cornered?

Now, pull yourself back, shake off the dust of the past, breathe in deeply, and shoot for the moon. It’s time.


Originally published in CRY Magazine via Medium.