"More than machinery, we need humanity."

Plague Poems – The Forty-Eighth Week

It is unwise to celebrate
in the lifeboat
mistake not your relief
at being plucked
from the waters
with the safety of the shore
you remain at sea
and lifeboats
have been known
to sink.


Politely refuse
the invitation to play cards
as best you can
rolling dice
do not place bets
no matter your certainty
you only have so much
do not waste it
in the midst of a plague.


Last night
I listened to the excited cheers
of my neighbors
and their many guests
as they defiantly gathered.

This afternoon
I wrote a condolence letter
to my colleague
whose bother
has been claimed by the plague.


We are willing to do
to honor the brave souls
who face the plague daily
just so long as we
are not required
to inconvenience ourselves.


Editorial Note: This is a collection of Plague Poems written between February 6, 2021 and February 12, 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.


That the number of
daily deaths
is gradually diminishing
does not mean that
daily deaths
have stopped occurring.


When we were still hopeful
we made plans
spring restrictions
became a summer gathering
a closed border in summer
led to a cottage rental in fall
renewed fall lockdown
would be made up for in winter
after we ended the year apart
we grew wiser
and stopped making plans.


Learning from history
is not unlike
a cup of coffee:
freshly poured
it burns your tongue
as it banishes
slumber from your eyes
but those who leave it
forgotten on the countertop
find it cold and bitter
preferring to pour it
down the sink
rather than take the time
to reheat it.


And periodically
we are reminded
exactly how
precisely why
we find ourselves


With anger and woe
in their voices
they insist
that we must not allow
last month’s catastrophe
to fade from our memory
it is a dangerous thing
they warn
to grow accustomed to disasters
we nod
in discomforted agreement
as we scroll past the news
of the plague’s daily toll.


Shivering in the aft
of the lifeboat
we stare back
at the sinking ship
from which we barely escaped
as we watch the waters
slowly swallow its broken hull
we relive the terror
of our desperate flight
and are briefly distracted
from the coughing
of the lifeboat’s ragged crew.


We are told that it is imperative
for us not to tolerate
the intolerable attacks
upon our society
but we who live
in this land that has learned
not to blink
not to pause
not to change
as thousands die daily
live in a society
that has already learned
to tolerate the intolerable.


is given to us
so that we
are forced
to dig for hope.


six more weeks of winter
the ice clad roads
the snow piling against our doors
is the planet’s subtle way
of suggesting
that we just stay inside.


When a calamity is filmed
from countless angles
we who have grown accustomed
to staring at screens
watch the footage on loop
until we can see the images
with closed eyes.

When a calamity continues
in hundreds of hospitals
we struggle to visualize it
and thus we forget.


Stop wasting your energy
trying to rebuild
the ruined structure
(have you already forgotten
why it collapsed?)

Salvage what you can
from the rubble
some of those planks
some  of those nails
some of those bricks
can be reused
no, not to rebuild
but to build something new.


If we knew
if we were forced to recognize
how thin
how weak
this ice we walk upon has become
we would speak softly
barely daring to whisper
lest our frightened cries
trigger the fatal crack.


Begin every day
by telling yourself
you need only endure
for a while longer
just a little while longer
your resilience has held
thus far
you can endure
for a while longer
just a little while longer
begin every day
by telling yourself this
especially if
you no longer believe it.


We already know
how this movie will end
but nevertheless
we keep watching
out of the desperate hope
that this time
we will be wrong.


If you must ask me
how I am getting along
ask me
about my kitchen sink
inquire as to how many
bowls cooking pots knives
mugs spoons pans
glasses forks and plates
have piled up there
an unwashed mountain
threatening to spill over
ask me that
and I will tell you
that I’m doing fine.


We all know
it is a fake holiday
a corporate concoction
designed to sell
flowers and chocolates
jewelry and lingerie.

We all know
it is a fake holiday
but after so many months
of sustained isolation
how lucky are those amongst us
who will not
spend this amorous occasion



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-Eighth Week

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

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

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