"More than machinery, we need humanity."

Plague Poems – The Thirty-Second Week

In the summer
the plague encouraged us
to demonstrate
that we had learned
from the spring.

In the fall
the plague is encouraging us
to demonstrate
that we have learned
from the summer.

In the winter
the plague will continue
tragically demonstrating
that we refuse
to learn.


My cousin
who reads the polls
has told me
that now
he is feeling optimistic
cautiously optimistic
about what will happen next.

My aunt
who works in a hospital
does not sound nearly
as cheerful.


No longer coughing
the leader
informed his staff
“People are tired
of Covid…
people are saying
leave us alone.’
They’re tired of it.”

“How convenient
am not feeling
replied the plague.


The wise are not
though learned
they too are liable
to at times be incorrect.

Do not worship the wise
or trust in them without
but let not your
of the sagacious
lead you to follow fools.


Editorial Note: This is a collection of Plague Poems written between October 17, 2020 and October 23, 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.


Still I remember
when plague deaths
passing new thresholds
occupied headlines
warranted news alerts
provoked anxious pauses.

It is a memory
of long ago.

If you are not still
horribly fixated
on the frightening maps
you may not have heard
that 220,000 deaths
have now been recorded.


There is no shame
in being confused
by your new phone
that popular app
takes time to master
connecting to Bluetooth
is never
as easy as it seems
surrounded by complex
it is easy to be confused.

But a mask is simple
such a simple technology
you should know
that it must cover your nose.


I do not know
who will win the election
two weeks from today
but I know with certainty
that the plague
will have claimed even more
by then.


You must not lose
your perspective
the strange thing
is not
that your leaders refuse
to provide you another
twelve hundred dollars
the strange thign
is that
they helped you at all.


You who have stayed
unhappily at home
You who have worn masks
when venturing out
You who have washed
your hands raw
You who have not embraced
your aging parents in months.

You who have tried
to be selfless
must find a way
to endure
so long as your neighbors
remain selfish.


The appeal
of staying inside
as the season
grows colder
is significantly lessened
when you
have already spent
the spring and summer
behind walls.


It can be comforting
to imagine the world
a decade from now
as such fantasizing
frees you
from having to contemplate
the coming month.


When the polling locations
have closed
and the votes have all
been counted
and a winner has finally
been announced
what will we find
to distract us
from the plague.


There is a genre
of films
in which the protagonist
relives the same day
over and over and over and
over again
every day the same
even if the character
behaves differently.

How entertaining
such films were
before we found ourselves
in a similar situation.


We were warned
consistently and loudly
that the plague
would gather strength
in the autumn.

Yes we were warned
but we had foolishly hoped
that we would have
the summer
during which we might
gather our own strength.

How strange to speak
of waves
when the waters never


Why is it
that he keeps

Because he believes
that if he never stops
no one will be able
to hear
the crying of
the mourners.


Of the
two hundred twenty two
one hundred and
fifty seven
the plague has stolen
seventeen thousand
two hundred
have been taken
since last
these men

And as the men spar
before the television cameras
the plague will steadily
even more.


“I take
it’s not
my fault.”

Are the words
the plague might use
to describe itself
if only
it could speak.


Do not say
“people are dying
from the virus”
even if those words
are true
instead say
“people are dying
from our leaders
to control the virus”
as those words
are truer.


will judge us
for leaving the responsibility
of judging
to history
when we are
perfectly capable
of telling what is right
from what is wrong
without needing a judgment
fifty years hence.


The climb has been terrible
your exhaustion is
but the ordeal continues
the peak is not yet reached
its zenith remains unseen.

Do not look up
it will unsettle you
Do not look down
it will nauseate you
Instead look
at the cracked skin
of your hands
and steady yourself.



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 Thirty-Second Week

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

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

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