Crickets and Consolation

After an 8 hour day
of unloading fifty pound boxes
from semi-truck trailers
I'd come home
to a mass of crickets
smashed into the cement floor
looking like an insect reenactment
of the Jonestown massacre.

The first night I said, "for fucksake
could you at least sweep 'em
out the door after you kill 'em,"
and then she began to cry
because she was a pregnant
19 year-old, high school dropout
and we were living inside a garage
that was barely inhabitable.

From then on out
I didn't say a word
about the dead crickets
waiting for me every night
just inside the front door.
Instead, I grabbed the same broom
they'd been smashed with
and swept their broken bodies outside
for the starving dogs to feast on.

Sometimes at night
with the lights out
I'd climb on top of her big belly
and we'd pretend that everything
was fine and normal
while the condemned crickets
clicked against the cold cement floor,
and I'd think, hell,
I guess this beats being
one of those goddamn crickets...

but the rest of the time
I prayed god would break out
his big holy broom
and send it crashing down
hard on all our misery.

Maybe After a Few Prayers, Some Luck and a Whole Lot of Evolution

My prayers have become nothing more than figures of speech
and ironic pleas to the peeling wallpaper

The refrigerator in the corner
droning on and on like Buddha
beneath his Bodhi
is the only thing holy
in this rented temple I call home

but my walls are Ghandi

and when I say I was looking for treasure
when I punched those irregularly shaped
frozen screams in the plaster
that is less than true and at least three quarters
a lie

because I was too blind with rage to see much of anything
after the moon split the curtains
and fell on all those flecks of black
in your gold

which I rightfully returned to the fools and failed dreamers

There are over 6 billion people in this world
yet it's still the coldest, loneliest place in the universe

but I can't escape those late night hours
when I reflexively reach out for something alive

and I suppose in all those handfuls of air
there are a few living organisms
that might someday evolve and give someone like me
better odds than 6 billion
to 1.

Greg Scharf lives in Los Angeles, CA. He has work in upcoming issues of Mouseion,
My Favorite Bullet, Zygote in My Coffee, Lunatic Chameleon and on the San Gabriel
Valley Poetry Quarterly calendar. His website is at

2005 Underground Voices