Escape Second Death

This poem was originally published in June, 2021. This is my first published work. I am reposting it on my blog, because hundreds of new followers may have not seen it. Together, we have come a long way in six month(ish). Honestly, I’ve received so much positive feedback over the past year that I just had to send this emotional poem out into the world again. Let me know what you think in the comments. Click here to read the original post.

This poem is published in the poetry anthology, Its Not Easy by Poets’ Choice.

Six feet under sixteen tall lilies, Man considers eternity.
Eternity’s ears hear no more the lamentations from Man’s regrets.

Regrets forgotten even by sixteen green stems, but Time—the grave gardener.

The grave gardener mows not, plows not, and sows not; He litanies.
He litanies as earth buries her one truth: Man wastes with worms.

Worms tunnel the clay and mud and brains and veins of Man’s forgotten pains.
Pains the gardener annals away, to be read on heaven’s judgement day.
Judgement day, asterisk of eternity, hour saved to open graves.
Graves untilled will break open—Man soars above lilies; He’s heaven’s chosen.

Follow Me for More Content:

Join 717 other subscribers

N.L. Blandford: On Writing

“People can shy away from topics because they are hard, and it can be easier to call them dark, rather than truth, or an aspect thereof. I believe that it is in the dark that we can really start to understand the true nature of our world and its people.” —N.L. Blandford

The Day god Died: Chapters I & II

“…I hated him and his kind. I hated his affluence, his expensive clothes, his chiseled looks, and the arrogance he was born too. But most of all, I hated the power he held over me, his assumption of authority, and the truth of his superiority.”

Deconstructing and Writing

Attached is today’s post, via video. Email subscribers, depending on your browser, may need to click here:

Be sure to follow me for more content:

The truth is simple: art demands honesty. We can only create what we know, and what we know depends on what we have experienced, witnessed, and researched.

A Nod To Derry’s Son

Derry, New Hampshire was the longtime home of Robert Frost. This poem is in dedication to my favorite poetry book: North of Boston, and his poem October.

Worlds Apart, by W. Alexander

W. Alexander

I wrote this story in February, 2021. I consider it one of my best pieces, artistically. I talk a lot about writing, and I want to share my own short story. Here, is an example of my passion for fiction. Share with me what you think.

This story is my intellectual property, and I provide no provisions for anyone to copy or download my data.

Worlds Apart

By W. Alexander Dunford

The long, thin esplanade snakes between the brackish waters of the Charles and the city—Boston. Here, under a dogwood tree, Chris wrestled back and forth with his future. The late morning sun transformed these muddy waters into polished glass.

            The parkgoers beetled away, jogging and walking, stretching and splashing with the occasional laugh. Next to Chris, two dozen college students executed in solidarity a yoga class as couples passed with hands held, and others went about engaged in lively conversation.

            Chris noted an exception to all the commotion: an elderly man feeding a flock of geese. The old man laughed as he spread breadcrumbs in all directions over their honks, delighting in their greedy squabbles over his generosity. One bird chased a crumb to where a girl was posed upside-down, and inches from her mat, it hissed. The old man chortled when the girl screamed and chased away the goose by hitting it with her blue tin water bottle.

            It seemed months since Chris, too, laughed so hard. Today was a sunny Sunday morning and two white clouds snailed high above the skyline where a plane towed a banner advertising tickets for the Federal Theatre. Chris, for once, had nowhere to go and nothing he had to do this morning. Tomorrow, everything would change, and he may never see these waters again, or hear the city buzz behind him; he would begin his new life in Wyoming. It was God’s Will; the church declared this, but he doubted it. Watching the old man incite the geese, for a moment, gave him respite from the pain of losing his city, his identity, his normal. He closed his eyes, sat up straight, and let the sun touch his face. He began to pray. If only I could hear your thoughts, Lord.

            Chris remained unmoved until something nipped his heel; he was alarmed to find several geese had, in fact, swarmed him—honking and hissing, prodding and squabbling, while he heard the old man laugh.

            “All right, all right, leave the man alone,” the old man said and waved off the geese. He placed his bag of breadcrumbs in his coat pocket and joined Chris on the bench.

            Chris shrugged his shoulders and willed his gaze on the river. His jaw was tight, his face flushed. He wanted to think; he needed to relay over and over how he got to this place. But no matter how hard he traced, he could not figure out why he felt punished. He wanted to be left alone.

            “Sorry about your coffee, young man.”

            Chris looked down and discovered his latte spattered over his shoes. He sighed and glanced between the old man and the geese that watched them both from a close distance. The old man offered him a napkin. Chris flung the napkin over his shoulder, stood up, looked around, and focused on each breath. He was in no mood to be grateful, so he started to walk off. When he stepped onto the esplanade’s path, a squadron of agitated geese confronted him. His face turned pale, and he slowly stepped backward before he bumped against the bench.

            “You’ll want to sit awhile longer,” the old man said. “Those birds won’t bother me, but they will make a sport out of you.”

            “Make them move.”

            The old man shook his head, “I’m not going to do that.”

            Chris turned to the old man; his mouth opened. He squeezed his fists and inhaled a deep breath. Lord, please don’t let me hurt this old man.

            “Now, that’s no way to pray.”

            “Do I know you?” Chris asked scratching his head.

            “You do most days, but I’m here all the same.”

            Chris would have walked away that instant if it were not for the, now, encirclement of waterfowl that restrained him. He glanced back-and-forth between the geese and the old man. He marveled how this man marshaled these birds; how they halted their honking and hissing and remained standing and guarding like sentries.

            “Sit,” the old man said.

            He wanted to go as far as his legs could carry him. The old man made a clicking sound, and the circle tightened. Chris obeyed. The old man smiled, pulled a pipe out of his jacket, and sparked a match; the smoke smelled citrusy and sweet. Chris’s body relaxed as the smoke filled his lungs: his stress, his fear, his anger all vanished. The troop of geese fluttered in formation and disappeared behind the trees.

            “It’s frankincense,” the old man said.

            “Who are you?”

            The old man dragged on his pipe, producing a glowing ember, and inhaled more smoke; he smacked his lips, smiled, and still holding the pipe between his teeth, he wiped the ash from his fingertips. The smell reminded Chris of Mass, and his delight when this scent filled the parish: children’s noses crinkled, eyes watered, and all the faithful kneeled. Then he remembered that this morning’s 7am Mass was his last. He had announced his reassignment as tears cascaded down his and the congregation’s cheeks. He had spent ten years serving and leading, teaching and learning, and he winced at the thought of restarting.

            “I am here to help.”

            “I don’t need any help.”

            “You did wish to hear my thoughts about Wyoming, did you not?”

            Chris felt like a statue; he found it impossible to speak. He ran his hands through his hair. I’m crazy, he thought. Wake up, wake up, wake up. But every time he opened his eyes, he found the old man smoking and smiling, as if reading and listening to his thoughts.

            “This is no dream.”

            “But that would make you God,” Chris said.

            “Nothing gets past you,” replied the old man.

            He noted to himself to later look into medication. The God of Abraham doesn’t just show up in Boston. The old man laughed again, delighted with himself. This is some kind of joke, Lord. Help.

            “What do you want?”

            “I already told you. To help you.”

            Chris resigned himself to playing this through and composed himself. He peeled his gaze from the old man’s face—blotted by blemishes, moles, and yellow teeth—and turned toward the river. Chris spotted a fleet of sailboats pilot the current, racing toward the ocean. Laughter and joyful shouts carried over the water. Scents of gasoline, saltwater and frankincense hung in the air.

            “Okay, why do I have to leave?” Chris asked. “If you’re God, help me understand why I have to leave a life that makes me happy.”

            “I am! And I don’t consider your happiness when I call. You are needed, and you are able, therefore you must go.”

            Chris let these words sink to the dark depths of his heart. He knew them to be true, but as he closed his eyes images of his friends, his congregation, and his accomplishments permeated his thoughts. How was he any better than the martyrs of yesteryear? They gave up everything. I’m afraid I will fail there, and I will hate it, he thought.

            “Worrying over the future costs real people the help they need today. My plan is mine alone, and Wyoming is where I want you,” the old man said, and inhaled another drag of his pipe.


            “Because when you trust me to send you there, others will trust me to invite them to paradise. And besides,” he chuckled. “I said so.”

            The sun beat down on Chris as he mulled over the old man’s words. When he opened his eyes, he saw the old man had vanished; and above the trees, he watched the troop of geese fly east toward the risen sun. He exhaled. Amen.

This story is my intellectual property, and I provide no provisions for anyone to copy or download my data.

Escape Second Death: A Poem

This poem is published in the poetry anthology, Its Not Easy by Poets’ Choice. This is my first published work.

Six feet under sixteen tall lilies, Man considers eternity.
Eternity’s ears hear no more the lamentations from Man’s regrets.

Regrets forgotten even by sixteen green stems, but Time—the grave gardener.

The grave gardener mows not, plows not, and sows not; He litanies.
He litanies as earth buries her one truth: Man wastes with worms.

Worms tunnel the clay and mud and brains and veins of Man’s forgotten pains.
Pains the gardener annals away, to be read on heaven’s judgement day.
Judgement day, asterisk of eternity, hour saved to open graves.
Graves untilled will break open—Man soars above lilies; He’s heaven’s chosen.

Join 717 other subscribers

Crosses & Scribbles: Writing As Christian

My faith defines who I am and how I see and interact with the world. Yet, most people I meet are surprised to learn that I, a Christian, don’t line up with the evangelical right on matters of theology—the stereotypical American believer. I don’t accept, as they do, the Bible as a defacto, clearcut instruction manual without error. I read God’s word like poetry and understand that books like, for example, Genesis are allegory—beautiful, replete with enriching wisdom, but not to be taken literally. So, am I an outlier? No, there are millions like me, who appreciate science, who believe in evolution (God-guided), who believe the nature of how mankind has considered and understood God has changed throughout time, and who delight in His grace and redemption.

However, I am weary of people lumping myself in with the young-earth-creationists and intelligent design theorists types. When I meet new people, especially those I want to make a good impression with, I tend to conceal my faith. I don’t know about you, but I sort of wish I had, jokingly, a business card with a QR code for people to scan, linking them to an online page explaining all the nuances of my personality. Basically, it would say, “look I’m not like those crazy other people and here is why.” I get tired of answering the questions, people are apt to ask, as they explore whether or not I am going to be a problem to them. They are weary of judgement. This is particularly true in the artistic and academic communities—places I hang my hat.

Recently, I joined a writer’s group. Everyone shares what they are writing and offer snips of advice. I was so nervous to attend, and my head was filled with all the worries one can expect when one opens their heart to complete strangers. I wrestled with what I should bring, I thought of reading a current project, or a previous—finished—one; I chose the latter. The problem? It was a Christian piece and, by far, my best writing. If I read this one, these strangers, these artists, might worry if they could be open with their own work around me. People can be rightly skeptical of how judgmental Christians can be. I, of course, am not like those believers. But they didn’t know that.

When the day came, and it was my turn to read the story, I did what I always do: I started with a disclaimer. I sat there, my eyes darting back-and-forth between the others, my bottom lip quivered, and my speech turned to blubber. I managed to say, somewhat cohesively, something like, “You don’t know me, but you will think, after I am finished, that I am reading a Christian story. It is, however, religious themed, but not specifically Christian.” I had practiced that last line on the drive over a dozen times. I did not want to make anyone uncomfortable, and so I stretched the truth to get them to like me. When I was done, my heart bleated in the open, and I counted the microseconds before, I feared, their disapproval would come slashing. However, I was shocked.

They loved my story, they complimented my sentences’ rhythm and its arc, but, more importantly, they loved my story’s theme and idea. I was filled with light, and, then I remembered, I screwed up: I projected my fear onto them. I should not have disclaimed that my work was something different than it was because I feared they would mistake me for some stereotype. To share what one is writing is to share something equivalent to sex. Writing is your intellect naked. I have never been so happy to have worried over nothing.

Perhaps, it is a sign of our times that I would worry that people would not like me if they found out how religious I am. It is easy, for us Episcopalians, to get lumped together with the more vocal, more represented, more controversial and larger evangelical community. Of course, I pass no judgement on them. I have in the past been one myself. We truly believe the same core doctrines, but we have different approaches to reasoning out what Jesus teaches. Sometimes, I refer to myself at school as a Two Great Commandments Christian—see Matthew 22:36-40. I attend a Christian university, and, well, everyone gets my reference. They joke, “ah, you’re a democrat then, lol.” The weight of attaching political ideology to one’s religious perspective is one way, I believe, the American church has gotten it wrong, but that is a discussion for a different time and on a different kind of blog. My point is this: I found this group of artists, painters of words, did not hold any animosity toward the religious, and that I was projecting onto them what I thought they wanted to hear. It turned out a few of them are pretty serious about their faith, too. I should learn to just be myself and let the cards fall where they may—one day, maybe I will be like that, but probably not. The hilarious part of all this is that all of it was in my head; to them, I was just a new guy reading a story. That is it. I think too much.

The next week I shared a darker piece, another, in my opinion, well written piece, but one full of grotesque language, horrific scenes, and themes of rape and abuse. Which brings me to another concern: Have I really, truly, decided if I am a Christian author or not?

I want to say yes. I want to yell from the mountaintops, “I write for God;” I want stand loud and proud. I want to tug the hearts of the faithful, and share God’s truth with the curious. I want to entertain and nourish, teach and entreat my readers. Except, can I be a religious author and tell the truth? As an artist, the most important thing to write is the truth. That truth, for me, is that life isn’t sanitized; in fact, life is often a horror story; if you live long enough, you begin to see this complexity and all its colors—philosophically, the one truth about life is: it is not black and white.

This question, right now, sings by the hour in my head: Can I write as a Christian and not hold back? Am I allowed the freedom to share life as it is—full of sex, lies, triumphs, excuses, noble ambitions, petty revenges, destructions, hypocrisies, coveting, etcetera? If I was to write a Christian novel, I would have to write, like all writers do, a human canvas navigating and experiencing life as it is lived; I would have to write the truth. Think Victor Hugo and Les Miserable! At least, this is what I want to do.

Thank you for reading this piece. I would love to hear your thoughts. In fact, it would be a comfort for me talk these things out with you. Please share your thoughts, and share this post with others. It is no easy thing to be so honest, so naked online, but I do it because I believe writing the truth is the highest virtue in the art of writing. Help me grow my blog by sharing my posts with others and subscribing. God bless.—W. Alexander

More From Me

The Miraculous Rise of Phillis Wheatley

Wheatley achieved the miraculous, the impossible, the unthought of: she a black-African-born-woman did not peel at the edges of prejudice, she slashed it, and all were forced to recognize her gift and confront their misplaced assumptions on the place of women and slavery.  

Book Review: The Portrait of a Lady, by Henry James

“Throughout these pages, the reader finds the brushwork of the master, and like all great artists, James can not only paint a story by the prowess of his craft, but, simultaneously, he hangs a mirror of enigmas and human complexity. Every reader can relate to the figurative handcuff’s persons’ finds themselves confined to.” —W. Alexander

I Write The Words I Cannot Pray: A Poem

I write the words I cannot pray.

Too false for Heaven, too honest for Hell.

I must tell the truth by lying well.

I write the words I cannot pray.

I hold my breath—one-second, two-seconds—I find the words I cannot say.

I must tell the truth by lying well.

Too false for Heaven, too honest for Hell.

I click my pen and write my heart open.

I write the words I cannot pray.

—W. Alexander

Do me a favor, if you like my short poem, please tweet it or share it. I know so many feel this way. I have been learning, reading, and writing poetry in school lately. I have very little gage on what is good, and what is not. Although, I hope you like it all the same.

I write the words I cannot pray, too false for Heaven, too honest for Hell, telling the truth by lying well. —W. Alexander