I’m really close to winning my very first NaNoWriMo, but I decided to go back to the beginning and start with one of my freeverse poems. It’s been awhile since I’ve seriously written any freeverse poetry. This wasn’t about padding out my word count so close to the finish line, but feeling this really works to set the mood and give meaning to the entire story. I was emotionally gutted as I was writing it; you don’t have to tell me I’m far too sensitive for my own good.

FYI: Tsesarevich is the correct word for the firstborn son of a Tsar, in spite of the more general Tsarevich being more widely known in the English-speaking world. I’m pretentious like that, the same reason I use accent marks on Russian words and names in my ultra-purist transliteration style.


Alekséy Nikoláyevich Románov,

the last tsesarevich of Russia,

the boy who never became Tsar,

the sickly child who slowly became stronger,

with fewer injuries as he got older,


thirteen years,

eleven months,




That’s not a full life.

Not even half a life.

A beautiful, innocent child just starting to become a young man,

frozen in time,

forever thirteen,

robbed of his life for the crime of having been born royalty

to the wrong parents

at the wrong time

in the wrong place.

The soulless murderer

saw only someone from the ruling class

who deserved to be shot down like a wild animal

unworthy of life

not a beautiful boy who had barely lived.

How do you pack an entire lifetime of experiences and memories into only thirteen years,

eleven months,

six days?

So many lessons yet to learn,

experiences yet to have,

books yet to read,

music yet to hear,

films yet to see,

a first love never to have,

children never to be born,

the experience of a grown-up lover denied,

so much love, compassion, intelligence, strength yet to give and develop.

He could’ve beaten the odds and lived into adulthood,

found the love of a compassionate Tsarítsa who loved and accepted him just as he was,

fathered healthy heirs,

become Russia’s most modern, enlightened, belovèd Tsar,

his whole reason for ruling shaped by love and compassion,

his memories of suffering,

the eternal outsider looking in,

forced into a quiet, interior life of the mind

to preserve his precarious life as long as possible.

But instead,

the forces of evil decided he must die

in the most horrific way possible

even denied dignity in Death

dumped in the woods


hacked up

doused with gasoline and sulphur

the location of his remains known only to God for ninety years

still denied a funeral.

How can someone who only lived thirteen years,

eleven months,

six days

have ever done anything so abominable he deserved that?

But I decided he must live.

So many decades later,

this beautiful, innocent boy,

from the other world,

lodged himself in my heart and soul,

haunting me,

whispering to me,

compelling me to give him the happy ending he was denied in this lifetime,

entrusting me with the belief that he would’ve become a wonderful Tsar,

an exceptional adult man,

someone full of strength, compassion, love,

who would’ve beaten so many other people’s dire what-if predictions and lived well into adulthood.

No one will ever know now what might’ve been.

No one ever does.

That’s what’s so haunting and heartbreaking about the death of anyone in the prime of life.

But in my beautiful dream,

he earned his place in history as Tsar Alekséy the Savior.

The forces of good and light defeated the forces of evil and darkness.

And in real life,

before Alyosha died,

Alyosha lived.

To the dead we owe honesty, respect, love, dignity,

for kindness to the dead can never be repaid

and could never have an ulterior motive.

Most of all,

we must remember the dead as they were in life,

for the fact that they lived

and not that they died.

And Alekséy lived.

3 thoughts on “A poem for Alyosha

Share your thoughts respectfully

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s