Jeff Nazzaro – YOGURT CUP

Yogurt Cup

The plastic cap snapped off

with a pop, the foil peeled

back, my mother and her

yogurt cup. New packaging,

new flavors, the word new.


Perhaps she spooned me out

a little taste. Perhaps not. After

the stainless blade of the spoon

had scraped most of the yogurt,

creamy, white, and teeming

with hidden life from the smooth-

molded plastic curves, I asked for the cup.


She rinsed it well in the kitchen sink,

popped the cap back on with a plastic

snap, and handed the cup to me,

a little boy in late 1970s suburban USA.


I went out to play. I took the yogurt cup,

thought I might put stuff in it—dirt

or rocks or bugs or something.

The O’Reilly’s were in their backyard.

I found them. Little Ryan said, “Let me

see that.” I handed over the cup.


Little Ryan turned the cup around

and around in his hands, then he lobbed

it like a World War II-movie grenade

over the wire fence where his father

dumped the grass clippings.


The fence was too high for me. It

skirted the backyard. There were branches

and brambles and grass clippings.


I looked at my yogurt cup

through the wire grating of the fence,

where it lay nestled in the clippings,

and thought: I don’t have my yogurt

cup anymore, but it’s only a yogurt cup.


I looked at Ryan O’Reilly, his challenging

blue eyes and mop of blond hair. Helplessness

and violence flared up. He was a year younger.

I thought: He is a mean little person, this Ryan

O’Reilly, but he is, after all, just a little person.

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Broken festering wounds

deep within shins that try to crawl through it.

The glass shatters from a ceiling that

surrounds, encases, allows


to see





The dome may be broken

but there are other things to



scream at.

To be consumed by the glass

to fall into the glass

to drag an already limp and outrageous body through the glass

is only just one victory.

No one can stop at just one victory

because to stop at just one victory

is as bad as giving up.

These shards come from

cracked vanities

ruined window panes

curved glass domes.

Devour these shards

swallow them

slice your throat open

with ragged edges.

Embed them

into your stomach walls.

Splinter them off into smaller pieces,

digest the fragmented remains.

Pierce your skin

and let it be known

that you don’t mind blood

pooling at your feet.




An ancient man shuffles towards me
as I walk down a dark Brooklyn street
past an old park
where trees can’t be woken
by the stare of streetlamps.

Clad in a black cape,
long silver hair.
A breeze lifts the cape slightly
to see if anything is inside.

As a small boy
he cavorted in this park,
his limbs wings.

Dracula has aged,
can only dream of blood
as he slips past me.

A wooden stake in his future,
he spits a few Transylvanian words,
shadows past my rapid gait.



Kiss It All Away     


I crumble under the weight of your wings

as you leap from the balcony and find that you’re only human

and the two of us fall.


There are gods burning in the fire place

painfully smiling through bruised lips

I’ve got runs in my hose from their fingernails; they need us, too.


What a disappointment it was to discover

that you still have one foot stuck in the real world

and it’s the foot that counts.


Joe Benevento – Physical Therapy

Physical Therapy

The petite young blonde assigned to guide

me through exercises for relief of my shoulder

pain has cold hands, but a well-trained friendliness

I believe she mostly means.


I could be embarrassed by how much stronger

she is, could fit the bill of the old guy, who

brags about how far he could once throw a football

or get grumpier still and say, “Let’s wait ‘til you’re 61,”


but of course I won’t be around to see how that works out.

A right “shoulder impingement” is hardly unbearable,

shooting pain only when I reach too far or long

for something over my head, or behind my back,


and with my family’s history (three siblings

have already beaten cancer, one has not),

I complain though most would agree I can’t.

Even now my younger brother, prostate cancer


gone, has three worse ailments than my single woe.

My mother-in-law has her own cancer battle,

unfair to pick one with an eighty two year old,

but she’s still fighting.  My nephew will lose


his stomach in a few days, will hope it takes

its cancer with it. I was aware long before

I met 60 that aging means debilitation, loss;

I’ve already been a regular, with regular lapses


visiting nursing homes, in vain efforts to cheer

any of us up. I still have two children at home,

though, and another two out of the house

who might miss me even more than they imagine.


Beyond blood, for as long as I keep my job

as a teacher, some young people will have to accept

me as mattering, at least for a term, and those

terms are still acceptable to me, since I’m certain


I can live with the pain, or better still,

avoid it almost entirely, if I remember

nevermore to reach too far above

or for anything behind.



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Responding to Facebook

“What’s on your mind?”  The white and blue screen asks.

What’s on my mind?  Money.  The cost of hospital-grade tubing that is in your nose when you wake up.

What’s on my mind?  The cost of honesty.  I’ve been racking up hopes and dreams, only to find expiration dates, boundaries, and under used gym cards.

What’s on my mind?  The relief that this moment will disappear from feeds by worthwhile-thirty.  This one is for the boring generations, STILL (italicized) on Facebook.

What’s on my mind?  I am too comfortable with this format of communication; and I miss coming home late, and thinking that “I’ll just be tired,” like when I wrote that letter the night before surgery, or on the eves of confessions past.

What’s on my mind? She walked by the fish tank…but she didn’t even tap on the glass. 

But what’s really on my mind…I don’t remember



Look on the Bright Side


Yes, she broke your heart.

Yes, I got that.

But let’s be honest

There are some good points,

And why not focus on them?


The top is on the toothpaste tube

For the first time in two years

And there are no long hairs in the sink.


The checkbook balances

For the first time in two years

And the lights you turn off stay off.


The caps are on the soda bottles and milk bottles

For the first time in two years

And there are no pizza boxes on the couch.


The medicine cabinet door is closed

For the first time in two years

And your T-shirts she slept in are off the floor.


The movie DVD’s are in the right boxes

For the first time in two years

And there are no bras and panties on the rugs.


The dresser drawers close and nobody hijacked your tweezers

For the first time in two years

And your décor is not candy wrappers.


So suck it up.

Get a porn library

And a puppy.