"More than machinery, we need humanity."

Plague Poems – The Thirty-Eighth Week

The month ends
as it began
with us shivering anxiously
in our quarantined hovels
as the plague marches
through the streets outside.


Where once
the smiling photographs
from family gatherings
filled me with a sense
of second-hand warmth
now the images
from family gatherings
held by acquaintances
fill me only with dread.


I miss the small luxuries
from before the plague
going maskless
visiting friends
embracing relatives
eating at restaurants
but such extravagances
are memories from long ago.

Now I miss those halcyon day
when 300,000 deaths
by year’s end
was not a foregone conclusion.


Up through the floorboards
comes the unmistakable scent
of broccoli
those who live below me
fancy themselves chefs
it is not that their cooking
smells delectable
it is not that their cooking
smells nauseating
but as long as I can
smell their cooking
I know I am not infected.


Editorial Note: This is a collection of Plague Poems written between November 28, 2020 and December 4, 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.


Every morning I wake
still exhausted
from the months spent
still exhausted
every morning I wake.


Perhaps on some future date
we will able to look back
at our present crisis
and content ourselves
with all we have learned
but on this current date
we cannot even claim
to have learned
from the previous nine months.


“This could be a
of a bad two weeks.
This is going to be a
very bad
two and maybe three weeks.
This is going to be three weeks
like we’ve never seen before.”

At the end of March
those words earned him
as that hell returns
he cannot be bothered
to pretend to care.


The film Contagion
is a hundred and six minutes
while Outbreak lasts
for two hours and seven minutes
similarly if you wish to watch
12 Monkeys you will need
two hours and nine minutes
had this pandemic kept itself
to under three hours
perhaps it would have held
our attention.


Do not mistake
the end
of the year
for the end
of the plague.


We had scarcely recovered
from the horror
of 250,000 deaths
when we realized that
270,000 had died
we speed past bleak milestone
after tragic milestone
after wretched milestone
so swiftly
that we can barely process
where we have been
as we race towards
where we are going.


I understand that there is much
to discuss
so many vital topics require
(no, demand) our attention
we cannot allow one burning tree
to distract us from the forest fire
I understand this
yes, I understand it well
and yet tray as I might
I cannot stop thinking always of
the plague.


“The reality
December and
January and
February are
going to be
rough time
I actually
they’re going to be
the most difficult time
in the public health history
of this nation.”

Thusly the exhausted director
a nation immune
to reality and history.


Monday’s news
was worse than
Sunday’s news.

Tuesday’s news
was worse than
Monday’s news.

Wednesday’s news
was worse than
Tuesday’s new.

Today’s news
is worse than
yesterday’s news.

Tomorrow’s news
will be worse than
today’s news.

We could change
and yet
we do not.


Those who claim that
the deceased
voted in the election
seem unperturbed
by the number of voters
who have died
since that election.


In solitude we watch
the evidentiary deluge
of deteriorating
the plague spreads
the hospitals fill
the death count rises
in solitude we look on
consumed by anxious lethargy
certain there is nothing
we can do
but watch.

But do not look away
to bear witness
is to do


Any school child
would be able to tell you
that the amount of daylight
from season to season
having once been a school child
I understand this
yet it is getting darker
much darker each day
and the seasons are not to blame.


Do not allow yourself
to believe
it was inevitable
we would find ourselves
this was not destined
not fated
we were warned
we had ample opportunity
to alter our course
but those who refuse
to change direction
inevitably wind up
where they are going
here we are
here we are.


When they warned
that a quarter of a million
could be claimed by the plague
they were ignored
their pleas
dismissed as fear mongering.

When they warn
that half a million
may be claimed by the plague
they are ignored
their pleas
dismissed as stating the obvious.


I maintain my distance
I wear my mask
I scrub my hands
I observe the plague’s spread
I endure the ongoing calamity.

There is so little
that I can do
so I do
what little I can.


Forgive your parents
for the stories they told you
when you were young
the hopeful tales
about the world
the shining promises
about the future
it was not that they set out
to lie to you
they simply believed
that the world in which
they brought you
would be better than this.



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-Eighth Week

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

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

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