"More than machinery, we need humanity."

Plague Poems – The Forty-Seventh Week

After so many weeks
spent huddled indoors
it is a strange pleasure
to stay inside
buried under blankets
drinking hot beverages
watching the world
through your windows
yet it is a strange pleasure
to have cause to stay inside
when the reason
is something other
than the plague.


There are some mornings
where I worry
that I am preparing my students
for life
in a world
that has ceased to exist.

And there are some afternoons
as I read over their papers
where I suspect
that many of my students
are increasingly
of the same opinion.


If you cry “wolf!”
and they come running
they will not believe you
when you tell them
that it was their hasty arrival
that scared off the beast.

If you cry “wolf!”
and they do not come running
leaving you
to be devoured
they will blame you
and appoint a quieter shepherd.


Had I known
on this date a year ago
that this was
the last full month
in which my world
would maintain
some semblance of normalcy
I like to believe
I would have
gone out dancing
gone out drinking
gone out
every night of the week
that is what I like
to believe
I would have done.


Editorial Note: This is a collection of Plague Poems written between January 30, 2021 and February 5, 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.


Do not bother
getting angry
with the groundhog
it is not the rodent’s fault
that after six more weeks
of winter
you will need to spend
the spring
watching the trees flower
through the windows
of your quarantine.


Seized by optimism
at the year’s start
I purchased a day planner
it sits now
in the desk drawer
next to the barely touched
day planner I purchased
seized by optimism
at last year’s start.


That the people around you
have stopped talking
stopped constantly muttering
about the plague
does not mean that they
have forgotten
its presence
rather it is a sign
that they exhausted their supply
of fearful words
months ago.


I had grown so accustomed
to life amidst the ruins
that when good news arrived
I stared blankly at it
rereading the words
searching for the negative qualifiers
I must have missed
confident that it was
some cruel trick
it could be anything
it could be anything
except good news.


If laughter
helps you to cope
by all means
you should laugh
but when you joke
about the things
the plague has stolen
from you
do not forget
the others around you
(within earshot of your chuckles)
from whom
the plague has stolen


The books that will be written
about this plague
will be placed on shelves
next to the dusty unread tomes
that were written
about previous plagues
there they shall sit
until they (dusty and unread)
are pushed to the side
to make room
for the books written about
the next plague.


My intrepid great aunt
is a committed traveler
her home a museum
filled with the trinkets
she has brought back
from her adventures abroad.

A bored curator
dusting display cases
she calls me to say
“If I survive this
I know where I’ll go next!”

I try
but cannot laugh
at her “if.”


I know
that you are tired
of reading
about the plague.

Please believe me
when I tell you
I am tired
of writing
about the plague
as well.


Every morning I wake quivering
physically shaking
with an irrepressible certainty
that there is something
very wrong
with this world
in which I live
so I drink a cup of coffee
and turn on the computer
working away the hours
until exhaustion claims me
and the cycle repeats.


Resist the cynical urge
to dismiss positive developments
as falsehoods
permit yourself to feel
cautious hope
take in the good news
but when you step outside
continue to behave
as though you had not seen
any news of positive developments.


When the plague was new
artists plastered every wall
every telephone poll
every postal dropbox
with bright posters
exhorting onlookers
to stay stafe
to have hope
if you walk now
through the plagued streets
you can still see the faded posters
defiantly clinging
to the walls.


The the alarm
has stopped its wailing
does not mean
that the emergency
has ended.


After weeks
in which the plague claimed
ten thousand lives
every three days

the situation has improved

the plague now claims
ten thousand lives
every four days.


Were you raised
by wolves?

Surely you were taught
that ingratitude
is unacceptable
if you wish
to be taken seriously!

So you will not receive
that you were promised
still you must
(be an adult)
express relief
be grateful
or next time
they will give you nothing.


For months my watch
has sat
on the bedside table
unworn and unwound
its hands
seconds minutes hours
remain stationary
paying silent tribute
to the last moment
when being told that
seconds minutes hours
were steadily passing by
was not
such an unwelcome reminder.


In the moment between
tick and tock
we wait

in quiet anticipation

of relief checks
of further deaths
of vaccine availability
of more virulent strains
of the next headline
of the after

It is our faith
in the inevitability of tock
that makes all of the ticks



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-Seventh Week

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

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

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