"More than machinery, we need humanity."

Plague Poems – The Twenty-Second Week

Those who did not know
the answer
to the Sphinx’s riddle
were devoured for
their incorrect response.

We cannot claim not to know
the answer
to the plague’s riddle
as we are devoured
for our incorrect responses.


Our leaders are hesitant
to provide assistance
they are frightened
of setting unrealistic expectations
they do not want
their constituents to form
the erroneous belief
that the government serves
its people.


Your students will
forgive you
for struggling to
master the latest
high-tech platform.

Likewise they will
show patience
as you attempt to
learn how teach
when separated.

Yet even your most
compassionate pupils
will resent you
for pretending that
everything is fine.


My uncle insists
that a secret cult
of disease worshipers
has infiltrated world governments
they have engineered
this pandemic
in order to awaken
their festering god.

Calmly I explain to him
that this view is
a cult of plague worshipers
would not be so obvious.


Editorial Note: This is a collection of Plague Poems written between August 8, 2020 and August 14, 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.


When you see images
of the maskless
furiously berating the masked
you may find yourself wishing
for these unmasked belligerents
to get infected
“if anyone deserves the plague
it must be them”
yet suppress this desire
those who deserve the virus
infect the undeserving as well.


Too many of those
who pride themselves
on being literate
are unable to read
the writing on the wall.


Unhappy before the plague
unhappy during the plague
surely unhappy after the plague
though at that point
I will have one less reason
to be consumed by misery.

Take what
you can get.


You are permitted
to feel bolstered by
the good news
just so long as it
does not lead you
to forget
the bad news.


Affix your gaze
to the sun
rising on the horizon
Put foot in front of foot
walk forward
but do not forget
your destination is distant
you will have to trudge
through a field of the dead
to get there.


Had you suggested
in March
that the plague would claim
two hundred thousand lives
by Election Day
they would have called you
a pessimist.

Should you suggest
in August
that the plague will only claim
two hundred thousand lives
by Election Day
they will call you
an optimist.


By the week’s end
it is likely
that the plague will
have claimed
its one hundred and seventy thousandths victim.

Forgive my naivete
but I still believe
that such things
should not be
calmly accepted.


Come November
you shall have the opportunity
to vote out the scoundrels
who abandoned you
to the plague.

Yes, come November
you can vote them out
provided that the plague
has not already
carried you off.


Years of rigorous coursework
stacks of books read
memorized facts and figures
none such specialized training
is necessary
in order to see
the catastrophe towards which
we are racing
to see it you only need
to be willing to look
alas too few can
bring themselves
to do so.


Scarcely had I mourned
the deaths of
one hundred and sixty thousand
before I braced myself
for deaths exceeding
one hundred and seventy thousand
I was spared from this
somber preparation
by the unwelcome news
that the death count has
already exceeded
two hundred thousand.


On my shelf
sits a book
a firsthand account
of the rise of fascism
titled “The Brown Plague”
at least
when fascism was rising then
there was not also
a literal plague.


While you struggled
to keep your head above
the rising water
they met in comfort
to debate
whether or not to assist you
many options were discussed
but in the end they agreed
to let you drown.

Do not waste
your breath
on a last desperate cry
they have already left
for vacation.


We send our young
to school
so that they may learn
what they must know
to succeed.

When our young look out
at the world
that awaits them
they see only evidence
that we do not
have their
best interests in mind.


When I was young
I listened
to my teachers’ guidance
follow directions
work diligently
avoid distractions
plan decisively
sacrifice youthful indiscretions
in exchange for future success.

Observing the ruins
before me
with my first gray hairs
I realize
I have wasted my youth.


What a woeful commentary it is
to be filled with guilt
for focusing on
the impending collapse
of your society
because it means you are not
giving your undivided attention
to the plague.


We teach our young
the names
of the mighty civilizations
that came before
The Chou
The Ik
The Hittite
The Maya
The Kachin
The Minoan
The Roman
The Olmec.

Once mighty civilizations
now ruins
our young shall bear witness
as their own civilization
joins that distinguished list.



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

2 comments on “Plague Poems – The Twenty-Second Week

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

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

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This entry was posted on August 21, 2020 by in Plague Poems and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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