All of my writing is now being collected at NickSimmonds.com


The Vaccerelli Variations


We trade pictures of paramours
Like two Edwardian dandies
Making admiring noises to each other
Him in his impeccable suit
And I in my nerd-chic and cool shoes
Joking that we should get married
Get a house in Queens
Get two Italian greyhounds
Well, half-joking


I tell him about The Crush
And he says “n-word, ”
And he *says* “n-word, ” I mean
He does not say *the* n-word, he says to me “n-word,”
Maybe as a joke
Maybe because he knows I’ll yell at him for *the* n-word
Maybe both
He says “n-word, you are playing with fire”
I point out that I am explicitly NOT playing with The Fire
The Fire has a boyfriend
I am admiring The Fire from a respectful distance
And The Fire is welcome to let me know if The Fire’s situation changes
That’s all


He writes a slam poem
About how much he hates the local slam
I write one about how much
I love mine

We would be the most
badass team
Maybe one day will be
Walk into a slam together
Suit and shoes
and just *trash* the place
(House in Queens)


And ANYWAY, you giving ME
relationship advice is ridiculous
Like you haven’t
torched every attempt you’ve ever made
You burn romantic bridges like
Like a maniac arsonist
Who hates travel


I tell Carrie it’s interesting
We’re so different and so close
And she goes “you’re not different”
I don’t know
I mean I care about politics
And he watches more movies


Bromance is a word straight men use
To sanitize their feelings
Along with “no homo”
(House in Queens)


We talk literature

John Green is like
brain poison inside cheap candy
But he’s so brave
I know because he said so

He loves Grossman
I hate the guy
I just don’t think any of the darkness
Is earned

I am, ostensibly, reading Ulysses
I am always ostensibly reading Ulysses
I feel like we are all, always
Ostensibly reading Ulysses
Never to stop, never to finish
There is only Ulysses
read Ulysses
cherish Ulysses
put Ulysses down
You are still reading Ulysses
forever Ulysses
Behind your reflection Ulysses
You flee
You turn the corner
Alone except for a small black cat
Who whispers


“I’m going to meet the circus performer this weekend”
“The one with the orange hair?”
“Apparently it’s pink now”
“She’s a zipper buster. I drunk texted Alanna last night
that I was crazy about her
and I’d buy out her modeling contract
if she wanted to come spend some time with me.
I don’t think I could afford to buy out a UK modeling contract for Bazaar”
“You could take some time and fly to the UK, though. Woo like a person.”
“You know that “taking time” thing is tricky.”
“I do.”


We are both thirsty
Both throwing ourselves
At other people
Trying to be



The pumpkin spice latte you hate so much
Is not the mere affectation you believe
It is the first shot fired each year in the eternal Holiday War
That’s right!
In response to the Christmas aggression in November
We are annexing September in the name of Halloween!
Pumpkins in everything!
Candy sales!

We didn’t fire the first shot,
But I promise you we will fire the last
We will fill everything with
Cloves and cinnamon
Orange and red leaves
That crisp breeze across a college campus
A temperature that is just warm enough during the day and just cool enough at night
That one gif of a guy with a pumpkin face dancing
Night on Bald Mountain
Fake cobwebs and straw men
All the empty warehouses will become haunted all year long
Every hayride will be harried by the Headless Horseman

Yes, this means we’ll have one more month of
Sexy insert-random-object-or-concept
But every conflict has casualties
And it’s usually the women

Just remember our end goal:
We will hold the line at October 31st
While gradually assimilating the rest of the year
Into the Grand Empire of Costumes and Cider
In the name of cheesy horror movies
And Jack Skellington
The future is a leering pumpkin
Squashing the face of a reindeer



Grandpa picks up the strangest things by the road and sends them to me:

1. A tent without poles
2. A Speedway card
3. An honest-to-god troll doll
4. Santa and a reindeer in a car. It plays Jingle Bell Rock.
3. What I find out is a “geri chair”, which most likely someone died in

My mother’s packages have sea glass, or strange rocks. Seashells. I will send you snippets, or links, or pictures of my cat. It’s all the same principle.

Grandma gets science magazines. She teaches me about petrified wood and warm-blooded dinosaurs. With mom it’s architecture and history. From me it could be anything I’ve picked up: the earth’s axis wobble, computational theory, sociology, but what we’re all saying is that we love you.

I am nine years old the first time I hear the phrase “idiopathic neuropathy”. This is when I find out why grandma doesn’t walk much. She’s helped make me too smart not to understand: neuro pathy–your nerves are dying–idio pathic–cause unknown. My grandma is dying from the outside in, and no one knows why.

Grandma once tells me, “if anyone ever hurt you boys, I’d have them killed. I *know* people.” She laid into me once because she thought I was saying that people aren’t born gay–her Donnie, my uncle, was a GIFT to her–and she had misheard me but I could tell she had given that lecture many times in our small town. She loves fiercely, with her claws out, and sometimes it’s hard to love her back but it’s always impossible not to. She is a warrior of love.

Grandpa makes me a little wooden plaque that says “my funny, funny clown”. One of the Ns is backward. Grandma teaches me to cook a turkey. Mom will be my best friend through every breakup.

These people are baking bricks of themselves, and they are building me structures. They are making a lonely little boy into a man I’ll be proud to be.

I am 22 years old when grandma steps on a nail. She doesn’t know until she gets home, because she has no feeling in her feet. It’s decided that she won’t walk around outside the house any more. It is like watching a monster take bits of her.

I am 32 years old, in a nursing home with the family. We are talking. Around her. This fierce, clawed woman, this warrior, who owned every room I ever saw her in isn’t part of it. She’s smoke where there was fire. Fog. She


She’s there behind the eyes. The conversation is light. She manages…barely…to kiss me before I leave. She loves me still, even claws in.

I am 34 years old and I am at her funeral. It seems like the whole town is there. I talk about the magazines and the petrified wood and I find out that when I grew up she would give those magazines to the neighbor kids, that they loved her, too. Everyone talks about her.

Everyone there had known that fierce love. She left everything on the field. My grandma was not here to be forgotten.

I am every age that I will ever be.
My mother’s feet and fingers crack, parts fall away, like a torch lit from both sides.
Mine go slowly numb.
Idiopathic neuropathy means I am dying from the outside in. No one knows why.

But I got more from these people than some bum genes, so
I have been giving my magazines to the neighbor kids
I have been picking you trinkets from the roadside and the shore so you’ll know
I love you
Claws out
I have been baking myself into bricks. I am building structures.
I am leaving everything on the field.
I am not here
To be



Justice completely failed to be done, so to speak, by the stories. The creature was somehow larger than the space containing it, a conflagration of feathers and scales and teeth and color, with two slitted eyes right in the center. It was hard to focus on the thing, because one’s gaze kept shifting away to follow some new flash of movement, the way that a drunk can’t help but stare at the siren screen in a bar.  There was no pattern to the thing, but the mind kept trying to make one, attempting to forge the chaos into meaning. It did give the vague impression of a snake, but that was probably only in the way that it folded and undulated. It was ultimately more like watching a quick-motion video of a fault tremor, or watching plate tectonics happen on a compressed scale. It was like a hundred chickens had been dyed competing colors and dropped in a bouncy castle. It was like a birthday party as drawn by an alien who had only heard one described. It was like everything, all at once, but also like nothing, in that there was nothing like it and in that there was nothing comprehensible going on, nothing to learn, no way to grasp it because there was nothing to grasp. It was obvious why none of the depictions matched another, because there was no way to depict this in fewer than seven dimensions, two of them imaginary.  Quetzalcoatl was beyond description, or understanding, beyond knowing, beyond seeing. Simply beyond all.

Harry, the Wingman to the Gods, said, “This is going to be complicated,” and finished his drink.



“So,” said Yeshua, “one bourbon for you, and, heh, a water for me.” He waved over his glass and it darkened.  He lifted it to his companion, and drank, winking.

Harry, the Wingman to the Gods, said. “Didn’t we already do this? I took you to a dive bar, you asked about virgins, and-“

“WHOA! Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa,” said Yeshua holding his hands in the air, “that was dad and I reallly really don’t want to know what you guys did that night.”

“I thought the whole point was that you’re the same person, along with your ghost thing.”

“One god. Different people.  Look, it’s like…. think of us as shift workers who all have the same position.  We’re all God, but he’s day shift and I’m evening shift.”

“So what about night shift?”

“Oh, that guy. He is really weird. Less said the better, but I don’t think he’s going to call you, so it’s not really worth thinking about.”

“All right,” said Harry, relaxing into the idea that this wasn’t going to go the way that evening did, “what are we here for? Are you into virgins, too, or -“

“LALALALALALALALALA ME H. CHRIST I said I didn’t want to know what dad’s into, man! Oh god that’s just… him and mom, AGH, wow I so totally wish I did not fucking know that!”

“Oh, shit, I’m sorry, I still don’t get this. I deal with some weird stuff every day but you guys take the cake.”

“Just, look, think of us like any other family, and don’t tell us what the other ones are into. I do not want to know.” Yeshua leaned back, pulled a joint from behind his ear, winked, and lit it with a zippo that he had hidden somewhere in his robes.

“All right,” Harry said, “so you’re not your dad. We’ll start over. What are you into?”


“I guess.”

“Well,” said Yeshua, leaning back forward, “you know any whores?”



“I’m sorry, I guess I’m not following. You’re a professional wingman?”

Harry, the Wingman to the Gods, said, “Not exactly professional, more like a very experienced amateur.” He gave the bartender a precisely calibrated nod which conveyed refill my drink and hers, put hers on my tab, but don’t tell her unless she asks, I’m not doing this to score points. The bartender nodded back and refilled Harry’s bourbon, then began mixing a new cocktail for his friend.

“What does it pay?”

“It doesn’t, really. I get payment in kind, I guess. While I’m working for someone they put me up and cover my expenses, but it’s not like I’m socking away cash and there’s no 401k.”

“No benefits and no pay?”

“Well, ah. My clients put me up, and the health plan is killer. Or maybe the opposite of killer,” he said, remembering his morning hangover’s fading to nothing with the first bite of ambrosia as Athena and Cindy laughed quietly at the other end of the table.

“I still don’t get it. You couch surf and help people get laid?”

“Not couches, as a rule. My clientele is… high end. Very high end. Mountains, clouds, that sort of thing.” Of course there was the occasional pit of fire or moldy castle under the sea, but this wasn’t the moment to bring that up.

She squinted at him, then noticed the drink. She started to turn to the bartender but Harry said, “no, it’s on me, my tab’s being picked up.”

She turned back, squinted at him, shrugged, and sipped. “How do you even get a job like that?”

“Eh. It’s less a job than a geas,” said Harry, remembering the cold grip on his soul as the Crone intoned the curse. “I’d rather not talk about it.”

“Okay. So is tonight your night off?”

“Sort of. I don’t really get ‘nights off’, but,” he looked across the room at Baldur, surrounded by a knot of beautiful men and women, each laughing uproariously at anything he said, each jockeying for position, trying to lay a hand or a finger on the impossibly beautiful man. At the end of the evening, he’d simply select one to three of the most interesting and then wave Harry over. They had the routine down, and the only reason Baldur would request him was to give Harry some rest. “Tonight I’m not really needed.  So what do you do?”



“Are you sure you’re up for this,” Athena asked, “because it doesn’t seem like your wheelhouse.” She gestured at the bar, a riot short haircuts, comfortable flats, plaid, and commitment.

Harry, the Wingman to the Gods, nodded. “I’ve been at this a long time, and I’ve had much bigger challenges than a lesbian bar. You’re basically human, no wings or scales, you have the normal number of limbs, and your voice doesn’t destroy the minds of mortals.”

“That’s because I’m not a showoff.”

“You’re wearing full armor.”

“It’s my birthday suit.”

Harry smirked. “Fine, it’ll work out, anyway.  A seven foot tall amazon with a spear should be an easy sell here.”

“I am not an Amazon. I am of Olympus.”

“Sorry, language drift.”

“So what do I do?”

“Really, there’s one big tip for connecting two lesbians.”

“Okay, so what’s that?”

“Just this: someone has to make the approach. Pick who you like, and start a conversation.”

Athena looked around the room while Harry tapped his feet to Tegan and Sara. She caught eyes with a woman across the room, who tilted her head, and Athena motioned for Harry to stay there. He sipped his bourbon while they talked animatedly for a bit.  There was laughter, and eye contact, and everything was going well. Conversation got animated, and then Athena brought her over as Harry caught the tail end of a sentence with, “he’ll tell you. Tell Cindy.”

“Tell her what?”

Cindy said, “She claims she was born in a smithy.”



The bar dissolved around him and the air crackled with power, and in the darkness he saw a blasted tree. He saw a creature with a thousand wings and ten thousand eyes. He saw a great chasm filled with molten fire, and there was a voice like the thunder of all of the storms that have ever played across this green earth at once


Harry, Wingman to the G-d, was dragged back into his own body, coughing blood into a cocktail napkin as his head swam with incomprehensible visions.

“Sorry,” said the Metatron, appearing next to him, “he hasn’t been out with mortals in a while, forgot the protocol.”

Harry blinked tears of pain and wonder out of his eyes, and looked back and forth between the angel and the nigh incomprehensible form of יהוה‎, asking, “does he really need me? Aren’t you a literal wingman?”

“I know not the ways of dating. My kind are banned from it.”

“Right, the Nephilim thing.”

יהוה‎ rumbled at the mention, just below the level of speech and therefore tolerable, if uncomfortable, to Harry’s ears and mind.

“In any event, you know the rules,” the Metatron said, “and you have been requested. You must serve.”

“I know the rules better than anyone except the Crone,” Harry replied. “I’m the one living with them.  Let’s get this going. I know the place is a little on the trashy side, but the request said he was looking for a one night thing, and this is where you go for those.”

“Very well,” said the Metatron, as the incomprehensible form of the G-d seemed to nod reluctantly. “What then is the next step?”

“Well, it’s going to be complicated, with you in the middle, but I think we can make that work for us.  We’ll say he’s a mute, and that’ll play into the ‘broken dove’ thing some women have. Plus he’s-”

Harry turned to look as closely as he could at the form beside him, which was to a man the way that a rocket launcher is to a Nerf gun, the way that a billionaire is to a Monopoly winner, the way that all of human language is to a poem, the way that the object is to the shadow it casts in the cave where men live their lives huddled in the bare warmth of a fire and fearful of the outside.

“-magnetic, I’ll give him that, even compared to the gods I spend most of my time with.”

The air grew dark and dangerous and there was a menace to the G-d’s form.

“He says, ‘Thou shalt not mention-‘”

“Hang on,” said Harry, “I know The Commandments, but I literally spend every evening with a different god.”

The menace grew thicker, and Harry collapsed to his knees.

“Stop! Okay, fine, I won’t mention them, but you know you won’t break the Covenant either. Let’s get you laid!”

The sharp malice that hung in the atmosphere lessened.

“You presume much,” said the Metatron, “but you are correct that for this night the Covenant shall hold. What is our next step?”

“Well,” said Harry, standing and leaning on the bar while his head cleared, “What’s he into?”

The Metatron stared deep into his master’s form, communing in some deeper language of thought that could be sensed but not understood by Harry’s lesser mind, but he could sense that something of import was passing between them.

The Metatron asked, “Will there be any virgins?”

“Oh come on!” said Harry.



“I just don’t know how to bring it up in conversation.”

Harry, the Wingman to the Gods, looked at his companion and sympathized, “I think you just have to say it. Not right away, but pretty early.”

“I know, but it’s embarrassing.”

“It’s not anything wrong with you, it’s just how you are.”

“What if she’s not into it?”

“Well, look. She probably won’t be. It’s a pretty rarefied taste. But you’ll find someone it really works for, and you’ll be perfect for her.”


“Yeah, people are into all kinds of weird stuff.”


“Sorry, not how I meant it. It’s just that, no matter what you’ve got going, there’s someone who thinks it’s great, and you’re not an exception.”

“Yeah. Yeah, okay.”

“All right, let’s go meet some people. You ready?”

“I’m ready.”

Harry and Osiris wandered around the room, talking to all the pretty women, buying drinks, nothing really clicking until they met a pair of friends, Sally and Lauren, who wandered in late. Everyone hit it off, and the conversation just naturally split after Osiris gave a quick look to Harry to indicate he wanted to talk to Lauren alone. Harry steered her friend back to the bar and chatted amiably with her for a while until the quiet conversation was interrupted by Lauren’s voice pitching up from the table nearby.

“A fucking crab!?” she was asking.

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