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.

The Things I Am Not

And who I am and who I’d like to be

Simple. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

I am an open book with a tired spine. I am not an only child — the eldest of seven. I creep beneath the sun’s shadows on cloudy days and savor a subtle breeze as it blows haphazardly in my direction.

Not a smoker. Not a drinker. Not a person who cares if you do or don’t, as long as you aren’t bringing harm to others — do as you please. I won’t sit back and keep my tongue on pause when a situation/action/ordeal rubs me the wrong way.

I am not your best friend’s best thing. Not a visual artist. Not a fan of everyone merging into one another. Where is the ability to be unique — to stand out from the crowd?

The bandwagon is toppling. We need to lighten the load.

I am not a night owl — not a club-hopper, can’t tell you the last time I’ve allowed someone to get within six feet of me if they weren’t family or a close/best friend.

I am not interested in cryptocurrency, bitcoin, sales & marketing. I don’t want to know how many ways I can flip a house.

I could care less about social media. You won’t find me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok; hell, I’m barely tolerating LinkedIn, and it’s lightweight entertainment on a good day.

I still listen to my favorite artists on CDs, others on vinyl. I have zero shame in pulling up YouTube to venture down memory lane.

Nope, I’m not addicted to Spotify, Apple Music, or any other app that gives me hundreds of thousands of artists at my beck and call.

I can write until my fingers bleed. I give birth to stories that have spent more than nine months in my brain. I am a healthcare worker leaning towards 20 years in the field.

I am not heterosexual.
I do not lack love.
I cannot stand what this world is becoming.

I am not in a relationship — don’t want to be “hooked up” with your boy or “set up” with your girl. Keep your friends where they are — they’ll have way too much to deal with as it pertains to who I am now.

I can say that openly without stuttering. I can say that and feel no shame. I know where my lane is and I stay in it.

I am me. Flawed. Fearful. Forgiven. The things I am not are exactly who I am.


This is a response to the CRY “Who Are You” prompt. Originally published in CRY Magazine via Medium.


N’Dambi, Can’t Hardly Wait

Checking In After Hours Part III

Flash Fiction: What lingers behind the shadow?

Photo by Rafael Leão on Unsplash

Noting the information given by the motel clerk, the officers gathered their things and headed for Magda’s room. Tamara insisted on following along — she wouldn’t be able to sleep. Not tonight, and definitely not at this motel. On her way out, she noticed the fire extinguisher was on the opposite side of the door.

“Wasn’t that fire extinguisher on the other side when we came in?”

“No, ma’am. Been there the whole time.”

But had it?


Tamara looked at the strange man and rolled her eyes. She followed closely behind Officers Dibbs and Bends as they trotted down the concrete path to Magda’s unit. She left her husband, Dale, alone with the children. He loaded them up in the car’s backseat while they waited for the last of the fiasco to run its course.

The plan was to drive up the road another ten to fifteen miles to where the next motel was, check in, set up for the night, and try to get some much-needed rest.

Tamara didn’t want to say anything — didn’t want to bring any attention to an already peculiar night, but she had noticed one more shadow accompanying hers, the officers, and the strange old man’s. As they got closer to Magda’s unit, the strange Oompa Loompa’d man slithered closer to the front of their line, jingled out his set of keys, and opened the door.

“Here, you go. This is Magda’s unit. Spick and span, just as I’d believe it to be. Magda was serious about these rooms and even more serious about how clean her unit was. She made it such a top priority that Daphne and Tess had been trained under her directly, so they would know exactly how to clean each room, just as she had for years. Go on — give the place a look-see.”

The officers filed in one after the other, Tamara snaking in closely behind them. The shadow was still trailing them — still in place. She looked all around the room — in the closet, in the bathroom, and in the small kitchenette. Nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary, at least not to her.

“Bends, get over here! I think I may have found us a little clue.”

Officer Dibbs slipped on some gloves, pulled a set of tweezers from his pocket, and snipped up what looked like a letter — drenched in what smelled like maple syrup.

“Well, what the hell do you make of this, Dibbs? What’s it say?” Officer Dibbs slid his glasses on with his free hand and began reading.

To whom it may concern:

Magda wanted this. I was simply a willing hand in the process — doing her the favor she requested of me so many years ago. I have no name of importance to you. I have no fingerprints. By the time you find this letter, I will be so far away it’d be useless to search for me. There is no trace — no trail. The deceased cunningly calculated this. If you want to know more, ask the shadow.

Sincerely,
B.

“What in the blue haze?! Ask the shadow? What the hell kinda message is this, Dibbs?”

“Your guess is as good as mine, Bends. I’m puzzled by this one. Just puzzled. ‘Ask the shadow.’ What shadow and why would we talk to something that’s not really there?! We’re going to have to call in the calvary for this one, Bends. This is some serious shit.”


Tamara looked at the strange man. He looked curiously at her. The two of them shifted their eyes over to where the “shadow” was and said nothing.


Originally published in Hinged.press via Medium.

Part I and Part II

I Believe In Me Sometimes, But Not All The Time — And That’s My Struggle

MUSICAL SELECTION: GIL SCOTT-HERON|WINTER IN AMERICA

When a bird sings, it is lending its heart to you

Photo by kevin turcios on Unsplash

I am a purposed woman. I know I have a purpose. I am inclined to believe we all have a purpose. However, I struggle to recognize, grasp, and embrace exactly what my purpose is. I know my strengths. I know my weaknesses. I can tell you all the things that make me uncomfortable and put me in deep states of anxiousness, yet I can’t quite place a finger on a solitary thing to cause me to erupt more than something else. I have faults and flaws — upswings and downswings — brave moments and fearful ones. I am a walking contradiction who lives down the street from super-inflated candidness wrapped in a slice of humility.

The seasons blur. I cannot find my way through spring shifted from winter second-removed from autumn or passed down by summer. Every season carries its own pain and its own special directness as they enter my realm. Who should I be now? What should I learn today? Where will any of this lead me four to five years from now?

It is the tail-end of spring and the birds sing their joyous songs just outside my window — a congregation of like minds willing to harmonize their thoughts and feelings.

When a bird sings, it is lending its heart to you.

I tell myself this . . . that birdsong is God’s feathered creatures sharing their heart. Am I a great keeper of it? Can they trust me with it? I am not a bird person, per se, but I enjoy listening to their musical offerings. I carry their songs with me throughout the day. Sometimes, they are the only thing that can lift me out of a frigid mood — warm my soul. These days, I’ll take what I can get.


I have a mean gift of gab — I do.

If I am not willing to point out what I do well, who will? Without boasting or sounding arrogant, I remind myself occasionally, “You are an incredible words-worker. You can create anything using words.” And I can. I have. I hope to continue to do so as each year passes, but the world is shifting from what it used to be, and I fear many of us no longer want to sit with words. We want to be spoonfed by two-minute reels of one’s forty-year timeline or audiobook everything, including the Bible. We want the diet version of a memoir and the cliff notes to epic poetry and . . . I fear I will move out of my league with this new normal.

But, I have a mean gift of gab. I can land a poetic punch or comedic comeback in a heartbeat and not blink an eye. One thing I love most about working from home is sharing with my co-workers via Teams. At roughly about 11:10 a.m. every workday, one of my Workforce Managers will tag me in a Teams group chat casually blaming me for the call queue increasing because I took a break. I, of course, upon returning from break, will see my name tagged with the statement of blame and our tit for tat in comedic exchanges will begin.

Several co-workers will say in the chat, “I wait for this every morning! It’s one of the reasons I’m excited to log on!” or “Y’all two are so funny. This is better than my soaps.” I have to admit, on some days, this same Workforce Manager will give me a run for my money via a verbal comedic lashing, and I’ll humbly bow out. If I had to guess, though, I’d say we’re neck and neck.

But these exchanges and how good they make my co-workers feel are reminders of what I have done and can do with the English language.


I motivate others to be better versions of themselves

When I am at my highest level of confidence, I can motivate others to be better versions of themselves. It is not finger-pointing, and it is most definitely not, “Look at what I did — you can do it, too!” It is more like me simply listening to them, knowing what they can do and how often they have overcome obstacles to get where they are in life, and reminding them of this. It is me sounding a bullhorn in their ear that they have the power to be exactly who they wish to be. They must recognize it.

I take what I say to them and turn it back on to myself as well. I am not a stranger to self-reflection or honing in on integrity. We all have a little of something in us others want — they may even need it, and most times, it makes them happy for us to share whatever that little something is.


I struggle with my gifts and talents — with believing in myself

Knowing all that I know about myself and how I operate, I still struggle with believing completely in myself — with feeling as though I can be more — do more; provide more for my life. I have goals I would still like to meet and I aspire to be a better version of myself, too, but the weight of the world and some of my negative thoughts can create a conflict within me, and I play tug of war with myself.

Although I’ve been down the road of my life and have seen my many accomplishments, there is always this nagging voice poking its way into my thoughts if ever I stumble upon a new idea. It creepily says, “Are you sure you can do this?” And sometimes it gets rude with its statement and spits a, “But you’ve already failed at this before” at me, and I stutter-step with my next moves. It is up to me to continue to pour positive energy into this being of mine as I grow older — as I seek opportunities out there I know are meant for me.

I am going to be just like the birdsong — soon, a piece of my heart will be with you.


Originally published in CRY Magazine via Medium.

Checking In After Hours (Part II)

Flash Fiction: The mysterious fire extinguisher

She stared at the man, fumbling for the words to tell him what they’d just found, and before she could get the first word out, he said, “Lemme guess, you found Magda? We’ve been looking for her for hours.”

Hearing this, Tamara fainted. Her feathered-like body splayed itself on the floor. There she lay until the cops arrived.


The strange Oompa Loompa’d man waddled over to Tamara and waved his hands frantically in front of her face. He leaned in far too close to her and then stared intently until she blinked and opened her eyes. Tamara shot up from her fainted state — disoriented — but regained her sense of self quickly. He led one police officer to the area where she was and directed the other to the room the couple reserved.

“Hey! Hey! Name’s Beau. Officer Beau Dibbs. We got ourselves a bit of a situation here. You the one who found the motel’s cleanin’ lady, Magda?”

The strange man stood behind the front desk with a defiant look plastered on his face. He scrutinized Tamara silently while Officer Dibbs attempted to get whatever information he could out of Tamara. She averted her eyes from him and paid attention to Officer Dibbs.

“Ye — Yes, me and my husband found the woman. He — her head. God! Her head was in the bed and her body was in the tub. IN THE TUB!”

Officer Dibbs made note of the delirium spouting from Tamara’s mouth. He perused the perimeter, took photos of the motel lobby, and asked the strange man to escort him to the scene of the crime. Tamara walked along behind them — afraid to touch anything. There was a fire extinguisher on the wall next to their room. Had it been there before? The glass was broken, yet the extinguisher looked to be intact.

“Was that fire extinguisher there when we checked in? I just . . . I don’t remember it being there before.”

“Yup. Gotta have one every hundred feet. City code. There’s one here, then about five rooms down, there’s another. And so on, and you know. City code.”


Officer Dibbs entered the room. His partner, Officer Clive Bends had questioned Tamara’s husband Dale, took photos of the mangled body, the room, and blocked off the area in a 50-foot radius with crime scene tape. Dale was standing in the middle of the room, hovering over their children, and muttering a lullaby. It seemed as though the song was for him more than it was for their children.

“Dibbs. It’s a damn mess. Couple came in expecting a night of rest from a long drive up. They’re headed farther North. From what I got from the husband over there, they hadn’t been in the room five minutes before locating the body. According to him, they don’t know the lady, and don’t have anything to do with this here, um . . . situation.”

The strange man stared at Dale, then at Tamara, then at both officers before speaking up.

“The deceased is Magda. Magda Kowalski. No children. She lives here on site. Works every day along with our other two maids; Daphne and Tess. Last I heard from her was three days ago — hadn’t called in — nothing. This was odd for Magda. She’d be here at 07:00 on the dot every morning. As I said, she lives on site.”

Noting the information given by the motel clerk, the officers gathered their things and headed for Magda’s room. Tamara insisted on following along — she wouldn’t be able to sleep. Not tonight, and definitely not at this motel. On her way out, she noticed the fire extinguisher was on the opposite side of the door.

“Wasn’t that fire extinguisher on the other side when we came in?”

“No, ma’am. Been there the whole time.”

But had it?


Originally published in Hinged.press via Medium.

Part I