"More than machinery, we need humanity."

Plague Poems – The Thirty-First Week

Gathered virtually
we gave voice to our
feelings of loss.

“I miss playing
for an audience”
the musician sighed.

“I miss being
in the classroom
with my students”
the teacher groaned.

“I miss my uncle
who died
of the virus”
someone whispered.

And we all became silent.


My great aunt has written me
to tell me not to worry
she cannot go out
she is alone
but with a friend
she is now playing bridge
over the Internet
therefore she insists
I need not
about her.

Not knowing
what else to tell her
I write
“I’m glad
you are still
playing bridge.”


During the plague times
I have been busy
my every moment filled
the tasks pile up
there is much to do
the responsibilities have
only multiplied
at each day’s end
before I collapse
I look back on the day’s work
and wonder how I could
have been so busy
while accomplishing nothing.


Despite the fact
that I have access to
a calendar
on which I dutifully
place an X over each
day gone by
my sense of time has
become unreliable
try as I might I cannot truly say
where yesterday ended
where today began
except to observe
that today somehow feels


Editorial Note: This is a collection of Plague Poems written between October 10, 2020 and October 16, 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.


Having recovered
from the plague
the powerful man danced
on the stage
before the crowd
and the cameras broadcast
his dancing around the world
how happy he was to be healthY
as he danced
on the graves
of those he had sworn to protect.


Months ago
those whose job it is to know
warned us
that we would need to prepare
that we would have to prepare
for the plague to get worse
in the autumn.

Now here we stand
amidst the reddening leaves
staring at trend lines
as we experience
our fall.


Children hide their heads
under their covers
confident that
if they cannot see the monster
the monster cannot see them
such a stratagem may keep
illusory beasts at bay
but on a societal scale
refusing to see the plague
is no protection
from its eyeless gaze.


We have all heard
so much
from the powerful man
crowing that he has recovered
from the plague.

How great
are the powers
of modern medicine
that could save a sickly case
such as he.

As for the 215,000
who modern medicine
could not save
of them
we have heard so little.


As an anxious and worried child
I grew accustomed to adults
insisting there was no need
to always be so concerned
the world was only improving
I would understand that
as I got older.

As an anxious and worried adult
I still do not
understand that
perhaps I will
when I’m even older.


Those reaching out
desperate hands
to their leaders
are not doing so
because they have themselves
they are reaching out
their desperate hands
because they have been
by their leaders.


I know you are busy
with so much happening
how could you not be?
Your obligations have multiplied
news breaks every minute
attention is a limited resource
you must expend carefully.

Yes I know you are busy
but remember
at this very moment
the plague
is busy too.


According to the doctors
even those who recover
from the plague
may still be afflicted
by lingering infirmities
for the rest of their lives.

Much the same diagnosis
can be given to our land
our plague stricken land
should it somehow
recover from the virus.


Before the plague times
I would often read
the poems
scrawled by those who
lived during
(if not always through)
the darkest times.

Reading their words
I would wonder
how it was that they
could have written
as their world ended.

I wish that I did not
now understand.


Had we talked more
about the plague
in March
perhaps we should not now
still need to talk more
about the plague
in October.

[Editorial note:
in future months please
take the above words
and exchange October
for the current month
the above lines will
remain true]


When the powerful man
was recovering
many attributed his behavior
to the strong medications
he was taking
it was well known that
such drugs could cause
erratic behavior
how pleasant it was
for a time
to be able to blame
his wretched behavior
on strong medications.


Please do not accuse me
of ignoring the news
I have listened to the debates
I have followed the hearings
I have read the coverage.

I know how much
is currently at stake
so I have not been
ignoring the news
but that a thousand more
died yesterday
strikes me still
as newsworthy.


Had absolutely nothing been done
the plague
would have been worse
many more lives would have
been stolen
many more lives would have
been ruined
take from this some
frail solace.

Things could have been worse
yes of course
but that is
no excuse
for how bad things are.


After hours spent worrying
about the plague
I try to take a moment
to visit with my old fears
allowing my body to writhe
from the dread
it had known so well
before the plague came.

It is only a short visit
but I would not want
my old fears
to think
I had forgotten them.


On some loathsome day
we will shudder
at the headline informing us
that the number of cases
has passed ten million
in that moment
do not ask
but think back to this day
when the news
that the number of cases
had passed eight million
was met with calm acceptance.


On Fridays
we used to drink
never too much
or for too long
we both had
places we needed to be
a quick drink
just a quick drink
when it came time to part
we never knew
whether or not to embrace.

My friend
I miss our drinks
but how I long to feel
your awkward arms
around me again.



Plague Poems…the next 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 Thirty-First Week

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

  2. Pingback: Plague Poems – The Thirty-Second Week | LibrarianShipwreck

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This entry was posted on October 23, 2020 by in Plague Poems and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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