"More than machinery, we need humanity."

Plague Poems – The Forty-Fourth Week

Where once
every ten thousand deaths
gave rise to despairing cries
as such large round numbers
easily quantified the tragedy
eventually four zeroes
no longer proved shocking
and now ten thousand death
is simply what occurs
every three days.


We are not the first
to live during dark times
our ancestors knew horrors
of which we have only read
the fanged monsters that stalk us
in our fitful sleep
were not just frightening tales
for our forebears
no, we are not the first
but knowing this
does not diminish our darkness.


When the history of our time
is written
there will be some
who write of the plague
there will be some
who write of the coup
and there will be some
who stubbornly insist
that to understand
the coup
one must also understand
the plague.


Abandon your longing
to one day return
to the port of call
from whence you embarked
where it once sat
only burnt ruins remain.

Another shore awaits
the stars cannot guide you
should you consult
compass and map
to center yourself
you find only the words
“here be dragons.”


Editorial Note: This is a collection of Plague Poems written between January 9, 2021 and January 15, 2021.

They were initially posted online on Twitter at @plaguepoems and Instagram at @plague_poems.

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.


History is slow
it passes its judgement
in its own time
not in yours
but history is not jealous
it shall not be offended
if you choose to pass judgement
before it does.


And to think
when they warned us
of the dark winter ahead
they were speaking only
of the plague.


the frightened shrieks
from the little chicken
contrary to its cries
the sky
is not falling.

The glaciers?
are melting.

The states?
are plagued.

The capitols?
are besieged.

But the sky?
is not falling.

is not falling yet.


Once we reach the peak
our descent
perilous though it may be
can finally begin.

Unclench your fists
my friend
you will still need your hands
your bruised aching hands
for the climb ahead
and to steady yourself
whenever it is
that we begin to make our way
back down.


We still cling
by fingertips
with splintering nails
to the edge
our plummet
though likely
is not certain
we may still claw our way out
back up to level ground
but the fact remains
we have
into the abyss.


When reflecting on the horrors
of the last seven days
do not forget
to include amongst them
that more
than twenty thousand lives
were ended by the plague
in the last seven days.


We laughed when the clowns
tumbled over one another
contorted their faces
flung pies at their fellows
doused the acrobats in seltzer
spoke crass nonsense
but having volunteered
as the target
for their knife throwing routine
we no longer find
their greasepaint smiles
so amusing.


Another page has been written
but slow
but wait
do not turn the leaf so quickly
the ink is still wet
you cannot risk smudging it
that would render the words
illegible for those
who will need to learn from them
no, stay on this page
it would do you well
to reread it.


Before 2,000 deaths
in a single day
1,000 deaths
became normal.

Before 3,000 deaths
in a single day
2,000 deaths
became normal.

Before 4,000 deaths
in a single day
3,000 deaths
became normal.

Soon 5,000 will die
in a single day
because we allowed
4,000 deaths
to become normal.


In my introverted and antisocial
frequently I would half-joke
that what I really wanted
was to become
a hermit
isolating myself far away
from other people
to indulge in monastic isolation
after months spent now
in hermetic practice
I no longer dream of such a life.


No one will judge you
if you should feel
in the present moment
that concerns
other than the plague
demand most of your attention
no do not fear
that you will be judged
worry instead
that the plague will still be here
when you are ready once more
to worry about it.


How generous
of the universities
to invite the plague back
for the spring semester.


With discomfort we recall
that a year ago
we sat and watched
the plague unfolding
over there
while telling ourselves
that it could not reach us
over here.


Stop saying
that you are the children
of the witches
they could not burn
if you would but look
you would see
they are gathering
the kindling
with which to build
your pyre.


Regardless of the tongue
there is no word
no verb adjective or preposition
no single noun
that will adequately capture
this moment
there is only the list
the still growing list
that now contains
than two million names.


Do not be concerned
that you do not know
how you can possibly endure
many more months
of this constant isolation
of this shaking anxiety
of this raw depression
for you did not know
how you could possibly endure
the many months
that brought you here
and yet somehow
you endured.



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-Fourth Week

  1. Pingback: Plague Poems – The Forty-Third Week | LibrarianShipwreck

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

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