"More than machinery, we need humanity."

Plague Poems – The Twentieth Week

A considerate teacher
the plague
has provided our leaders
an opportunity to demonstrate
what they have learned.

Alas it appears
the lesson
our leaders have internalized
is that they should be


To remember this
may be maddening
but do not forget
it did not
have to be this way
nor must it
continue being this way
though should prepare
for these dark times
to grow darker.


When I was young
I feared
robots would
destroy us all
but I know know
such anxieties were
youthful folly
as I aged
I concluded that the
changing climate
(not the robots)
would destroy us all
but now I fear
we will drown
not in the rising seas
but in the pandemic’s waves.


Save yourself
you no longer need
to ask
how people are doing
you already know
their answer.


Editorial Note: This is a collection of Plague Poems written between July 25, 2020 and July 31, 2020.

They were initially posted online on Twitter at @plaguepoems

Throughout the duration of this crisis new poems will be posted regularly at that Twitter account, they will then be collected and reposted here in weekly increments.


Terrible though it may be
to recognize
there will come a time
when you shall look back
(from amidst the wreckage)
upon this wretched month
and remember these days
as the good ones.


The new relief package
is not being designed
by the plague
if that pale rider
were its author
the bill’s cruelty
would not be
so obvious.


It is said
that history
repeats itself
how unfortunate we are
to live in this moment
when so much history
is repeating.


I know
that little shocks you
these days
your eyes and ears
have grown accustomed to
the bad news.

I know
that you have learned
to hide your fury
your hopeless sorrow
but in this moment
allow yourself
to feel
the weight of
one hundred and fifty thousand


A civilization
that does not
reel in horror
at the deaths of
one hundred and
fifty thousand
of its members
is a civilization
that will soon
be remembered
by its ruins.


How thankful I am
for my mask
not because it
protects me from the virus
(though I am grateful for that)
rather I am thankful
for my mask
as it is only its tightness
around my mouth
that keeps me
from screaming.


The poet Lucretius
once wrote of the pleasure
of watching a sinking ship
from the safety of
the shore.

We would do well
to remember
that the ship we see
is the ship that we
are aboard.


Pause for a moment
take note of where you are
dwell on your location
a day will come
(though it may seem
to imagine it now)
when you will be asked
where you were
when the death count
passed one hundred and
fifty thousand
pause for a moment
so you will remember.


The sickness
which threatens
to kill its societal host
come November
was present
in that body politic
long before
this pandemic struck.


That the plague
has triumphed
in some lands
and has been routed
in others
is not a commentary
on the plague
but on those lands.


To whom shall fall
the oppressive honor
of eulogizing
the tens of thousands
who have been carried off
by the plague?

What words
can bring solace
to the bereaved
when fresh graves
are being dug?

In the absence
of a suitable orator
it is the silence
that commemorates.


I confess
I am a fool
despite the
I still believe
that the deaths of
one hundred and fifty thousands
would not be passed over
with indifference
I still believed
such a grotesque figure
would shock
even the inured.

I confess
I must learn
to stop being
such a fool.


There is much blame
that the plague deserves
but it is folly
to blame the plague
for the failures of
your all too human


According to
the medical experts
the plague may cause
a loss of taste
a loss of smell
a loss of empathy
is evidence of a
much older malady.


They came for the Muslims, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Muslim.

They they came for the immigrants, and I did not speak out, because I was not an immigrant.

Then they came for the anarchists, and I did not speak out, because I was not an anarchist.

You already know
this poem ends.


There are few individuals
who will lament the passing
of July
there are fewer still
who believe that August
will not be worse.



Plague poems…the next week

Plague poems…the previous week

Plague poems…the first week

Plague Poems…the full list

About Z.M.L

“I do not believe that things will turn out well, but the idea that they might is of decisive importance.” – Max Horkheimer @libshipwreck

3 comments on “Plague Poems – The Twentieth Week

  1. Pingback: Plague Poems – The Nineteenth Week | LibrarianShipwreck

  2. Pingback: Plague Poems – The Twenty-First Week | LibrarianShipwreck

  3. Pingback: Omnium Gatherum: 9aug2020 - The Hermetic Library Blog

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This entry was posted on August 6, 2020 by in Plague Poems and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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