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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 13: May 2022
Cheribun: 182 words
By Jane Salmons

Black Market


I creep into the fowl pen at blackout. From the corner, a fierce yellow eye looms. A shrill voice says, “What do you want?” It’s Ruby, our broody Rhode Island Red.

“Sorry to disturb you,” I mumble. “I’ll be out of your feathers in a tick.”

“In a tick?” she hisses. “Day in, day out, I lie on this wretched nest. Do you have any idea what that’s like?”

“No,” I say, “but perhaps I can relieve you of a couple of eggs? Keep them safe, by our warm, black stove until they hatch?”

“Don’t you dare,” she says.

I glance around the mealy gloam of the coop; the other hens are soundly sleeping. I take my chance and edge forward an inch; the weight of the axe against my thigh like lead.

“Come on now, Ruby. What’s an egg between friends?”

She flicks back her comb, puffs out her breast, squawks loudly enough to raise the dead.

Wrapped in

string and brown paper
a chicken

and a dozen eggs
traded for a juicy leg
of pork at Lawley’s farm.

—A previous version of this cheribun appears in Enter Ghost, a chapbook by the poet forthcoming soon.

Note: “Black Market” is among the first cheribun written by Jane Salmons; see also Blue Velvet, selected as one of three Finalists in MacQ’s Cheribun Challenge in March.

Jane Salmons
Issue 13, May 2022

is from Stourbridge in the UK. After teaching 16- to 19-year-olds for nearly three decades, she now works as a part-time consultant teacher trainer and private tutor. Her poems have been published in various webzines and journals, including Poetry Salzburg Review, The Ekphrastic Review, Ink Sweat & Tears, and The Emma Press Anthology of Illness. Her first collection of poetry, The Quiet Spy, is forthcoming with Pindrop Press. In addition to writing, Jane enjoys creating handmade collage art, handbound booklets, and cards, which she sells online and at craft fairs.

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

The Weightlessness of Love, ekphrastic microfiction by Jane Salmons, in Issue 12 of MacQueen’s Quinterly (March 2022)

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