"More than machinery, we need humanity."

Plague Poems – The Thirty-Third Week

“We’re not
going to control
the pandemic”
declared the harried man.

“That’s the spirit”
the plague replied.


An unpleasant aroma
from the trash
beneath my sink

Committed to cleanliness
in the past I never
would have allowed
the refuse to reach such
an offensive stage

Yet every nauseating whiff
I can still smell
I am not infected

I will take out the trash


How difficult it is
to be heartened
by discoveries
in the heavens above
when you are sinking
ever deeper
into the cold ground.


Stop saying that
we will
get through this

Who is this “we”?
Were not the dead
part of that group
until suddenly
they were not?

What is the “through”?
Without compass or map
what is the destination
you believe
we are approaching?

Stop saying that
we will
get through this.


Editorial Note: This is a collection of Plague Poems written between October 24, 2020 and October 30, 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.


It is not enough
to believe people
when they show you
they really are.

Belief is cheap
Belief is easy

When people show you
they really are
it is not enough to
believe them
the difficult task
the essential task
is not to believe
to remember.


When an emergency occurs
our leaders are ready
to do all they can
without wasting a moment.

How unfortunate for us
that they perceive
a judicial vacancy
to be an emergency
and a worsening pandemic
to be unimportant.


There are many
who claim
that they see a light
in the distance
one we shall reach
in a week’s time.

The light is visible
but there is disagreement
over if these
are the rays of dawn
or the headlight of a train
bearing down upon us.

We will have our
a week
from today.


To understand
how it could be
that we have arrived
all you need know
is that we placed
one foot
in front
of the other foot
time after time
confident that we would
eventually alter our course
even as kept placing
one foot
in front
of the other foot.


“Despite the obvious
I find that my students
are especially perceptive
this semester”
the scholar said.

“Remind me
what it is you teach?”
I inquired.

“The Black Death”
the scholar replied.


“How terrible
it is to live
when history
is being made!”

“Look carefully
my friend
history is always
being made.”

“Yes but
how terrible
it is to live
when so much
is being made.”


Those who think nothing
of allowing a plague
to steal
the lives of 227,235
are unlikely
to be troubled by the idea
of stealing
an election.


In the moment
after months of despair
when you finally begin
to feel the familiar caress
of hope
it is then that you must
that things can always
get worse.


No one will fault you
for not knowing
at this hour
such news does not warrant headlines
with so much going on
who has the time
to focus
on that to which we
have grown accustomed.

It will not surprise you
but still you should know
the plague claimed
more than a thousand.


“We’re not
in a good place”
the gray haired doctor
glumly observed.

“Meaning no disrespect
I disagree”
the plague  replied.


A single letter
just one
can break you
to endure
a plague year
is harrowing
but to brace yourself
for plague years
is too much to bear.


Upon seeing the headline
calmly announcing
that the number
of known cases
has surpassed nine million
you are justified in trembling
at that number
but do not overlook
the qualifier
tremble yes
but tremble because nine million
is the optimistic assessment.


When you are
constantly worrying
that everything
is just getting worse
there is little comfort
to be found
in the publication of data
that substantiates your suspicions.


My neighbors
have filled their yard
with skeletons
with ghosts
with grave stones
what scathing commentary
this disturbing scene would be
if tomorrow were not Halloween.


In a plastic tub in
my closet sits
a wide-brimmed black hat
a sackcloth robe
a staff topped with an hourglass
a pair of leather gloves
a mask with a long beak
for many Halloweens
I eagerly donned
my plague doctor garb
but this year
I shall keep the costume
and myself
at home.


After the polls
have all closed
After all the votes
have been counted
After the victors
have downed
their champagne toasts
After the defeated
have wailed
at their misfortune
After the speeches end
we will still be sitting
right where we are now
by the plague.



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

3 comments on “Plague Poems – The Thirty-Third Week

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

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

  3. Pingback: Plague Poems – The Thirty-Fourth Week | LibrarianShipwreck

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