"More than machinery, we need humanity."

Plague Poems – The Twenty-Sixth Week

Do not allow yourself
to believe
that it was inevitable
that a week would begin
with the terrible news
that the plague has claimed
its one hundred and
ninety thousandth victim
we have arrived at this moment
not because of destiny
but because of indifference.


190,000 can die
a society must decide
that 180,000 deaths
are acceptable.

200,000 can die
a society must decide
that 190,000 deaths
are acceptable.

tomorrow’s tragedy
we must first become inured
to today’s tragedy.


The plague shares my bed
its coughing body
keeps me from sleeping.

The plague works at my desk
its regular interruptions
prevent me from focusing.

The plague joins my conversations
its constant presence
dominates every discussion.

I am not infected
and still
I am infected.


It is a sign of wisdom
that you are preparing yourself
for the impending moment
when you will learn
that the plague has claimed
its two hundred thousandth victim.

Let not this anticipation
keep you from mourning
today’s horrid milestone.


Editorial Note: This is a collection of Plague Poems written between September 5, 2020 and September 11, 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.


Many experts warn
that the second wave
will be even worse
that the one in which
we are currently drowning.

How lucky we are
that the first wave
has prepared us for
the second
by teaching us precisely
what not to do.

There is still time
for us
to learn that lesson.


As I struggle through each day
I attempt to find comfort
in reminding myself
that from a vantage point
in the foreseeable future
I shall remember today
as having been
the good times.

It is a fleeting
sort of comfort.


After long enough
life during the end times
becomes a rather
convincing facsimile of
life during regular times.


When the plague was new
we reacted with outrage
that our leaders valued our lives
so cheaply
as twelve hundred dollars
but now that our leaders admit
that they believe our lives
to be worth less
to be worthless
twelve hundred dollars
seems generous.


When I was young
I was told that
motorcycles were dangerous
even with a helmet
the risks remained serious.

I remember
being told that
motorcycles were dangerous
but I do not recall
two hundred and fifty thousand
cases of the plague
being listed amongst the risks.


As an army
of pollsters, pundits,
and political operatives
over who shall claim victory
in November
the plague continue
celebrating its triumph daily.


I have not yet lost
my capacity
to be surprised
shock can still break through
the cynicism I wear
like a suit of armor.

But the revelation
that the man in power
that he knew
and lied.

That does not
surprise me
at all.


According to the experts
losing your sense
of smell
is a sign that you may have
contracted virus.

What little relief
this knowledge brings
when you are choking
on the nauseating reek
of a wildfire.


forgive me
I know that I am
repeating myself
and that I
should have learned
to stop being surprised
fifty thousand dead ago
but I had truly thought
the deaths of
one hundred and ninety thousand
would have at least
been more widely acknowledged.


There is
a time
to remain calm.

There is
a time
to panic.

And there is
a time
when somehow
you must
calmly panic.


Sometimes I imagine
that I am in a different country
and all of these headlines
refer to some distant land
I shake my head
as I read of the unfortunates
trapped amidst the collapse
screaming for help from leaders
who have forsaken them.

Sometimes I wish
I was elsewhere.


We had become
so accustomed
to use plagues and fires
for describing
other catastrophes
that when we found ourselves
surrounded by plagues and fires
none of the words we could find
for describing
these catastrophes
felt sufficient.


Every morning
I open my medicine cabinet
retrieve the thermometer
and place it under
my tongue.

I wait and
I wait and
I wait until
it is done.

Checking the reading
I am relieved
to not have a fever
there must be
some other reason
why I feel so
exhausted and ill.


Elaborate displays
of historical remembrance
generally demonstrate
just how thoroughly
the reality
of those historic moments
has been forgotten.


Some tragedies
leave such a mark
that their date becomes
synonymous with woe
set aside for remembrance.

Those tragedies
that leave ruinous scars
day after day after day
that turn the calendar
into a map of grief
remind us that mourning
is not a day
but an obligation.


Do not say
that the world
is ending
at moments like this
hyperbole is unhelpful
it is not that
the world
is ending
it is that
your world
is ending.



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-Sixth Week

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

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

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This entry was posted on September 15, 2020 by in Plague Poems and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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