A Northman's Reveries

Alan's haunting novel of the AIDS epidemic, As If Death Summoned, was released on World AIDS Day, December 1, 2020, and has won the Foreword INDIES LGBT Book of the Year Award. Watch the book trailer here. Read the reviews here.



Another day starting,

and glad he was still here to see it,

though some might not think it much of a life.

Nothing splashy, never made a lot of money,

never became president of the United States.

But then he’d never wanted to be president,

and money never’d been that important to him.

There’d always been enough.


He had the love of a good woman, three fine children,

and now grandchildren coming on like gangbusters—

his whole life he’d loved only one woman.

Oh, he’d been tempted, sure—Sadie at the supermarket, maybe—

but that was just another one of those silly-second dreams,

like being rich n’ famous, that maybe look good ‘til you think them through.

Certainly nothing you’d waste a lifetime chasing after.


Some things he regretted.

Wished he’d had more confidence, wished his father’d been more proud of him.

Yeah, that would have been nice.

Never could get the hang of this social media thing.

He and the wife were on Facebook so they could keep up

with the kids and grandkids.

Not much to share 'bout himself.

If people needed him, there was always the phone,

or they’d more ’n likely just drop by.


He’d always tried to be a good man, someone his children’d be proud of.

When he was gone, that’s probably how people would remember him:

as a good man, a decent man who cared about his family, his church and his community,

one to count on to help when help was needed.

At least he never made a fool of himself,

was never knowingly unkind to another.


He was now closer to the end than the beginning, he knew.

Hair thinning, body sagged.

Lacked the strength in his arms he once had.

Couldn’t run any longer—that’d surprised him one day—

legs just wouldn’t move like they used to.

But then life had slowed down, too.

Fewer places to run to these days.


Yes, to others it probably didn’t seem much of a life, he supposed,

but it’d been enough for him,

an honest life where he could look any man in the eye.

He’d be ready when time came to say good-bye.


Until then, he had another day to live, and best get to it.

He looked out on the early spring morning, nicely warming,

drank the last of his coffee and got up from the table,

silently kissed his wife’s forehead as she read the newspaper

(“That damn’d fool in the White House,” she muttered)

grabbed his cap and went outside to make his garden great again.



[First posted: November 17, 2019]

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