Jeffrey Zable

The Slaughter House

I decided to go with my wife because I was curious to see it first hand.
She’d been there a few times before with an acquaintance
who originally told her about it.
When we walked into the place, I immediately saw cages
along three of the walls that were filled with chickens, guinea fowl,
ducks, geese, and rabbits.
The chickens seemed to be in the worst of circumstances
as most were jumping around on top of each other,
scratching and clawing for an inch of space that didn’t exist.
And the rest of the animals were packed in so tightly
that they barely had enough room to turn around in their cages.
While I stood there with my wife and other customers
I watched as one of the employees opened the chicken cage,
and using a metal hook, he caught one of them by the legs,
pulled him out, and threw him into a basket.
He then wheeled it into a room toward the back
that had a window with a shade that was completely drawn.
After observing him capture a few other animals
and throw them into the basket,
I decided to check out the room next door,
in which I found lambs huddled together behind a fence.
Looking into the faces of several of them I got the sense
that they knew what was in store for them,
They seemed to be begging me to save them;
take them some place where they’d have a chance to survive.
When I went back into the first room, a different worker
was attempting to shove a goose into a large plastic bag.
He held the squirming animal by the neck,
and once he got him completely inside
he tied it off and handed it to the customer.
Feeling queasy and upset, I handed my wife two twenties
and told her that I’d wait for her in the car.
That night she cooked up a chicken,
part of which I ate while trying to imagine she’d bought it
at the Safeway that we usually frequent–
packaged and ready to go.


Jeffrey Zable is a teacher and conga drummer who plays Afro Cuban Folkloric music for dance classes and Rumbas around the San Francisco Bay Area. His poetry, fiction, and non-fiction have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines and anthologies. Recent writing in Red Eft, Ink In Thirds, Alba, Corvus, Tower Journal, Defuncted, Spelk, The Mark, Former Cactus, The Bitchin’ Kitch, and many others. In 2017 he was nominated for both The Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize.

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