"More than machinery, we need humanity."

Plague Poems – The Thirty-Sixth Week

Though you eagerly await
(how could you not?)
the arrival
of a vaccine
you must not forget
that the plague
has not yet departed.


It has been months
since last I dined
in a restaraunt
I cannot even recall
when last it was
that I purchased
coffee from a cafe
those frivolous purchase
small though they were
that I once made so thoughtlessly
have ceased entirely
and yet somehow
I am still poor.


How odd
that the carnival barker
will not admit defeat
when he so eagerly
to the plague.


We could have built
a better world
but instead
we built this one.

Reflect on that
every time that you
to pick up a hammer.


Editorial Note: This is a collection of Plague Poems written between November 14, 2020 and November 20, 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.


There is still time
to change course
and when that runs out
there will still be time
to pull the emergency brake
but we continue to gain speed
our momentum grows dangerously
at our current rate
(unless something is done)
we shall wind up
where we are going.


I sat down to write
a pithy comment
on a news article from last night
but when I reread the headline
I realized how much worse
the situation has already become
and my wry attempt at humor
gave way
to a cry of despair.


At first it was amusing
to wear a mask
when entering a bank
there was certain sort
of mischievous thrill to be had
in walking up to the teller
a bandanna over your face
demanding money
though this slight pleasure
certainly diminishes
as the sum in your account


My aging parents insisted
that we assemble for the holiday
it has been so long
since last we gathered
my aging parents tear up
when we speak on the phone.

Now my aging parents
have decided
that we should not gather
I begin to tear up
when they tell me this decision.


It is easy
to be responsible
on a full stomach.

It is fine
to work from your
home office
when you have
a home office.

It is doable
to stay home
when your rent
is paid.

It is possible
to avoid going out
when you can
afford to stay in.

It is easy
to be responsible
on a full stomach.


That you are fortunate enough
not presently to be sick
does not mean
that you must pretend
to be well.


Because we could not
that things would get
this bad
we must now prepare ourselves
for matters to become
even worse.


When they said
“you must cancel your plans”
their words shocked me
for I had not realized
we had ever reached
that point
from whence we felt it wise
to once more
make plans.


The wreckage piles up
it continues to pile up
you will be granted no moment
of respite
in which to mourn as
the catastrophe continues
but as you drag yourself
ever forward
look down at your feet
so that you may remember
where you stood
when a quarter million had died.


When one hundred thousand
had died
the nation’s newspapers
commemorated the tragic event
with requisite
horror and solemnity
but when a quarter of a million
had died
it was just another


“We’re headed
a very bad place”
the sweating lawyer

“Oh, but
you are already there”
the plague.


Do not fixate on
round numbers
striking though they may be
to focus your mourning
on a quarter of a million
ignores all those
who have died since.

Any number that you
try to assign
to this catastrophe
will be an understatement
by the time that you
finish writing it down.


A society that will not
for people to stay home
will one day be forced to
for people to dig mass graves.


The problem is not
that the coup
is distracting you
from the plague
that the plague
is distracting you
from the coup
but that you still insist
that these crises
are distinct.


In the spring
the abyss
seemed so distant
scarcely visible
besides we had much more
immediate concerns.

In the summer
the pit
was clearly visible
but our destination remained
straight ahead of us
rerouting would be
too troublesome.

And so it was
that in the fall


In the darkest times
my great uncle fled
from Berlin to Prague
from Zurich to Paris
from Svendborg to Stockholm
from Helsinki to New York
sleeping with his shoes on
a suitcase as a pillow.

Now the darkest times
threaten to return
and there is no place left
to which we can flee.



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-Sixth Week

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

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

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