"More than machinery, we need humanity."

Plague Poems – The Forty-First Week

You need not say
thank you
to those who threw you overboard
to those who told you to tread water
to those who left you to drown
simply because they now
have seen fit
to toss you
a deflated life preserver
that will not keep you afloat.


If there is one thing
we have not lacked for
throughout this year
it is darkest days.


Please have some perspective
it is not fair to suggest
that they think your life
is only worth
six hundred dollars.

Have you forgotten their
earlier generosity?

They think your life
is worth at least
eighteen hundred dollars.


Six hundred
is a cruel amount
far enough from nothing
that it seems it must be
sufficiently meaningful
yet still of such smallness
as to vanish imperceptibly
a sneering taunt
this amount declares that more
(much more) was possible
but instead
all you will get is
six hundred


Editorial Note: This is a collection of Plague Poems written between December 19, 2020 and December 25, 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.


And now
the days begin to grow longer
as though each day
was not too long already.


There are frightening reports
suggesting that the plague
has mutated
an even more infectious strain
now threatens to sweep over us
such changes are unsurprising
viruses evolve quickly
if not promptly suppressed
the plague has evolved
our society has not.


Now you must admit
that no help
is on the way
the savior you were expecting
is not stuck in traffic
the relief you were counting on
did not get lost in the mail
the hope you clung hard to
cannot be eaten
the only thing
coming for you
is the debt collector.


is the simple truth:
Our darkest days
in the battle
against COVID
are ahead of us
not behind us.”

Grim honesty
from the old man
who has been handed
the torch
is comforting
but it is not enough
to merely warn of the darkness
when you have been entrusted
with the flame.


Hope is dangerous
have you already forgotten
the deflation
you felt yesterday morning
they have raised your spirits
only to drop you
many times before
what makes you believe
this time will be different
they know
without fresh hope
we would have nothing
but our disappointment.


I miss the days
when one thousand deaths
was considered

Are we not now
at the point
when three thousand deaths
are no longer considered

but before three thousand deaths
can vanish from the headlines
one thousand deaths
must cease to be


The plague
does not come down
the chimney
it is carried through
the front door.


After a week
I would tire
of hearing Christmas songs
in every shop
every office
every place I entered
bells and reindeer
navidad and ye faithful
chipmunks and Mariah
tunes I could not avoid
no matter how I tried
but here in their absence
I miss being tired
of cheerful music.


Perhaps in the future
some will learn
from this year’s failures
but here in this moment
we still refuse
to heed the lessons
from the previous month.


Those who insist
on being naughty
(still traveling still gathering)
in the midst of the pandemic
will be lucky
if the worst thing they receive
while celebrating this holiday
is coal.


A year ago today
I traveled
from my apartment
to a taxi
to a train
to an airplane
that flew me to a house
on the other side
of the country
this year today
I have traveled
from my bed
to the kitchen
to the couch.


My apartment
lacks a fireplace
but it is just as well
I would not want
who has been travelign
to come down the chimney
or quite frankly
to enter through the front door.


After so many months
one grows accustomed
to the loneliness
but some days remain
when the isolation
is hard to bear.


Stay in your pajamas
cover yourself in blankets
on the couch
eat though you are not hungry
stare at a screen
displaying comforting films
it is what you have done for weeks
but today
at least for today
doing so feels normal.


Had I known
a year ago
that we would not be
a year later
I would have made sure
to embrace you tighter
to hold you for longer
and to listen to your stories
with greater attention.


The most precious gift
I unwrapped this day
was the memory
of past years
when today was not spent



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 Forty-First Week

  1. Pingback: Plague Poems – The Fortieth Week | LibrarianShipwreck

  2. Pingback: Plague Poems – The Forty-Second Week | LibrarianShipwreck

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