"More than machinery, we need humanity."

Plague Poems – The Thirtieth Week

In confusion and consternation
a fatigued people cry out
“What is happening?”

“I am”
replies the plague.


Do not pray
for a powerful man
to recover.

Do not pray
for a powerful man
to expire.

Instead pray
that the powerful man
cease causing harm.

if you pray
that the one to whom
you address your prayers
will understand
how “cease causing harm”
can be interpreted in
many ways.


“Don’t be afraid
of Covid.
Don’t let it
your life.”
the sickly man.

“That is wonderful advice.”
replied the plague.


If I were
always attended
by a team of doctors
I would be brave.

If my home
featured its own
medical suite
I would be brave.

If a helicopter
sat outside
ready to take me away
I would be brave.

Without doctors
bereft of a medical suite
lacking a helicopter
what a coward
I am.


Editorial Note: This is a collection of Plague Poems written between October 3, 2020 and October 9, 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.


How easy it is
to claim that
“we are learning
to live”
with the plague
when you have
an army of doctors
a team of cleaners
a legion of staffers
whose job it is
to ensure
that you live.

“we are learning”
but you
you have learned nothing.


That in the moment
you do not know
what sources of information
to trust
should not make you forget
that you already know
which sources
not to trust.


To those
who hoped
that a confrontation
with the plague
would cause
our cruel leader
to learn empathy
you now have
your answer.


To lament
that the plague is
heartless and uncaring
is only to state
a scientific truth.

On the most basic level
the plague is simply
of feeling
any compassion
any empathy
for those it afflicts.

that is true
of the plague
but what
is our leader’s excuse?


So infrequently
do terrible men
receive the comeuppance
they deserve
that it is tempting
to celebrate
when the plague
takes up residency
in their lungs.

Yet as you celebrate
remember how many
of the undeserving
these men infected
before their names
appeared in the headlines.


A catalog from a publisher
arrived today
it featured a page
an entire page
filled with daily planners
for the coming year.

Though I am touched
by such a show of confidence
I am going to simply make
the necessary modifications
to reuse the planner
I have not touched since March.


If the reports are correct
at tonight’s debate
the candidates will be separated
by plexiglass barriers
plexiglass barriers to protect them
from an airborne virus.

What better symbol is there
of our leaders’ response
to this plague
than plexiglass barriers
for an airborne virus?


I do not know
for certain
what to expect
from tonight’s debate
though I certainly know
thousands more
have died
while tens of thousands more
have been infected
since the last debate.

Thousands more
will die
tens of thousands more
will be infected
before the following debate.


Life is transient
pleasures are brief
earthly possessions shine yet
are ephemeral
death awaits all who are mortal
are the common themes
of vanitas paintings.

In Barthel Bruyn the Elder’s
a fly
a single fly
sits patiently
atop the white crown
of a jawless skull.


Though humans
know better than
to follow
where flies lead
it is undeniable
that flies
point the way
to plague bearers
and excrement.


After so many months
I have stopped hoping
for a miracle
Not that I
ever believed in those
to begin with
I do not
pray that a panacea
will be discovered
I have learned to keep
my expectations low.

After so many months
I would settle
for help making rent
that would be
a miracle.


When I asked my friend
who educates the young
what he has been teaching
to his students
he crumbled
lamenting that try as he might
he fears
that his students are not learning
in this moment.

“Do not take it personally”
I heard the plague reply
are their parents.”


Uncomfortable and bored
after scarcely a week
of isolation
the plague bearer is eager
to return to his adoring crowds.

“Who thinks
is a good idea?”
the pundits ask.

think it sounds
the plague replies.


The words spoken
by those in power
must not
be seen as unimportant.

When a powerful man
urges violence
it is sensible
to feel concerned.

And yet
if a powerful man
who has negligently presided
over the deaths of
210,000 of your neighbors
condemned violence
would anyone believe him?


When a powerful man
falls ill
everyone knows of his struggle
those who despise him
wish for
a swift recovery
reporters ensure the people
are informed
the best care are int he land
will save him.

When millions
fall ill
due to the failures
of a powerful man
it is
just another day.


History is
the desperate cow
that escapes
the slaughterhouse
crying out in a terror a warning
of the terrible things
it has seen
begging you to listen
so that you may be spared
the butcher’s blade.

History is
the desperate cow
that escapes
but the slaughterhouse
still stands.



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

One comment on “Plague Poems – The Thirtieth Week

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

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This entry was posted on October 16, 2020 by in Plague Poems and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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