"More than machinery, we need humanity."

Plague Poems – The Thirty-Seventh Week

When we read of how
past civilizations
were overwhelmed by plagues
we scoff
at their foolishness
we sigh
at their scientific ignorance
we sadly shake our heads
and then blithely continue
repeating their mistakes.


To travel
from your bedroom
to the kitchen
may not seem like much
of a trip
to you who have been
unhappily stuck inside
but if the plague is able
to ravage you
that small journey
those dozen steps
will become a breathless ordeal.


That the end is
in sight
does not mean that you
will live
to see it.


My busy friend never has
a moment to speak
but she called today
available at last
she had a long way to drive
plenty of time.

“Where the hell are they going”
she grumbled at the travelers
with whom she shared the road
I decided against
putting the same question
to her.


Editorial Note: This is a collection of Plague Poems written between November 21, 2020 and November 27, 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.


You who consider yourself wise
you who are certain that
the precautions you have taken
ensure that your family
your intelligent family
can safely gather
even as you scoff
at your neighbor’s carelessness
you who consider yourselfwise
are not immune
to overconfidence.


it is far easier
to spread a virus
that it is to distribute
the vaccine
we would do well
to remember this
as we spread out
across the nation
to give thanks.


According to new research
many scientists have come
to believe
that the plague mutated
this early mutation made
the plague
more contagious
harder to contain.

The plague mutated so as
to more successfully
afflict us
if only we had been
equally willing
to change in response.


By now
I should have left
bags in the trunk
out of office message set
extra food put out for the cats
my parents are expecting me
if I want to avoid traffic
(and I want to avoid traffic)
I should have already left
yes, I should have
but here I sit
for I am not going anywhere.


“The sacrifice now could
save lives and illness and make
the future
much brighter as we
get through this,
because we
are going to get through this.
are right on the horizon”
so begged
the tired doctor.

but you are not yet
at the horizon”
replied the plague.


“Keep the indoor gatherings
as small
as you possibly can.”

“We all know
how difficult that is because
is such a beautiful
traditional holiday.”

“But by making
that sacrifice
you are going to
prevent infections.”

The tired doctor
his words will be


It had been months
many months
since last the death count
exceeded that wretched number
more than two thousand
in a single day.

Do not tell yourself
that we are going backwards
we are not going backwards
we are going forwards
to somewhere worse.


Those who do the tracking
remind us
that the numbers always go down
on the weekends
less reporting can make it seem
like there has been
a respite
when there has been none
so do not breathe easy
when seeing the weekend numbers
especially when that weekend
is a lengthy one.


Wear a mask
scrub your hands
keep your distance
avoid crowded places
and give thanks
that you are still able to
wear a mask
scrub your hands
keep your distance
and avoid crowded places.


Every year
we gather at this time
to retell the founding myth
of our nation
this year
we sit around smaller tables
our bellies
filled yet hollow
our tongues soured
by the bitter taste
from years
spent indulging ourselves
on those founding myths.


Of course
my apartment should be empty
no one should be here today
that had been the plan
a lack of voices
from a lack of people
a vacant table
in a vacated space
yes my apartment should be empty
no one should be here today
but here I sit
in silence
at a table set for one.


If you are struggling
to find a reason
for gratitude on this day
be thankful
for the memories you hold
of this occasion from past years
that you have such recollections
is reason enough
for gratitude on this day.


Still full
from the meal
I remain empty
from the isolation.


There are phenomenal deals
to be had today
this is what I am told
by messages
by advertisements
by reports
do your part to fight
economic darkness
by making sure you do not miss
these spectacular savings
how nice it must be
if one is able to afford
to participate.


From my apartment window
I watch my neighbors decorate
strings of white lights
a large wreath
rows of plastic candy canes
an inflatable snowman
their festive decorations
are rather garish
though I will not miss
the skeletons and tombstones
that had filled their yard all autumn.


It will take days
it will take weeks
before we can truly asses
the disastrous consequences
of yesterday’s gatherings.

We shall have our answer
just in time
for our stubborn society
to repeat this woeful mistake.



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-Seventh Week

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

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

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