"More than machinery, we need humanity."

Plague Poems – The Forty-Ninth Week

In the winter
it becomes dry
so very dry
in my apartment
the skin on my hands cracks
my throat grows raspy
every winter
I intend to
but forget to purchase
a humidifier
the problem is the dryness
it’s just so very dry
I tell myself
lest I overthink
how much
I have been coughing.


Every year
for her birthday
they would travel
(far if necessary)
so that they could celebrate
her birthday
with their grown children
to be together
was the gift she wanted most.

Every year
for her birthday
every single year
they would travel
but this year
they just stayed home.


By now you should know
when you being
click on the ellipsis
(in the top right corner)
and select
“hide self view”
you will stare at the screen
who is that
gray-faced ghoul
wearing my clothes?


If only the virus
was as visible to the eye
as snowflakes
or as obvious a danger
as an ice covered road
we would not now need
to hesitantly thank
this dangerous cold
for finally convincing our neighbors
that it is too perilous
to go outside.


Editorial Note: This is a collection of Plague Poems written between February 13, 2021 and February 19, 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.


After breakfast
they got in their car
and began driving
I had to get to work
they had a long drive ahead
we had eaten quickly
our parting embraces
were short
had I known a year ago
that we would not touch again
for so logn
on that day a year ago
I would have held them
for longer.


When you rip open
the packaging
and press your disposable mask
over your face
be thankful
for the nauseating chemical aroma
that fills your nose
come the day
when you cannot smell
that unappealing scent
you will have worse things
about which to worry
than that unpleasant odor.


I miss
the sweaty discomfort
of crowded concerts
the annoyance of straining
to hear in noisy bars
the disappointment of losing
during trivia night
and the adrenaline from running
to beat the subway’s closing doors
but mostly I miss
how deciding to stay home
use to be
a choice.


My eyes have seen
the articles
touting hopeful developments
just as my ears have heard
the voices
claiming the worst is over
with my mind I attempt
to calm
my exhausted shaking body
and yet still I am ruled
by the distrustful uneasiness
of my stomach.


is surely preferable
to constant horror
yet that which
leaves open the door
through which
constant horror


Fleeing plague-ridden Florence
Boccaccio told
of ten friends who hid
in a deserted villa
there they passed the evenings
telling stories
ten a day
until they had receounted
a hundred tales
how lucky
those young Florentines were
to only need to
distract themselves
for two weeks.


There are days
when I am nervously occupied
by the fear
that nothing
in my society is working
as it is meant to
and there are days
when I am nauseously overcome
by the fear
that the things
in my society are working
as they are meant to.


How strange to see
a debate
over how one should speak
of the dead
in a country
that responds
to the thousands
of lives
the plague continues to claim
day after day after day
by not saying anything at all.


It is not only
young and healthy
who foolishly believe
that they are immune
to the dangers of this world
aging and fragile
hold the same hubristic belief.


Having endured
so many
once in a lifetime
it is no wonder
that you feel
so old.


Better a nervous child
who anxiously cries out
their shrill warnings
and insists that your hasty arrival
is what drove off the hungry beasts
than an uncaring shepherd
who abandons their post
leaving you to wonder in darkness
while your village’s flock
is eaten by wolves.


The guilty one must be identified
thus we give names
to plagues and storms
so that we know
who is to blame for our misfortunes
if we did not
give names
to plagues and storms
we would have no choice
but to learn the names
of those people
who are to blame for our misfortunes.


If only
it were as easy
to protect
the warm blooded living
here on Earth
as it is
to land
a cold metal creature
on a dead planet
millions of miles away.


My friend has sent me
an article
lamenting the environmental harm
caused by these mountains
of disposable masks
long after the plague
has finally departed
the N95s
the K94s
the light blues
will live on in the refuse heaps
for centuries
yet another reason
to just stay


Look up
from the frozen wreckage
you have been staring at
for days
look up and look around
behold your shaking society
so you will remember
how it looked
in the last week
when you still could claim
that fewer than half a million
of your neighbors
had been claimed by the plague.


On the nights
when we would just stay in
she would say:
you never
take me out dancing.

And we would
as we nestled deeper
into the couch.

when night after night
we just stay in
I say to her:
you never
take me out dancing.

And we are both
too toried
to laugh.



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

3 comments on “Plague Poems – The Forty-Ninth Week

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

  2. Liam
    February 25, 2021

    My skin feels that first poem.

  3. Pingback: Plague Poems – The Fiftieth Work | LibrarianShipwreck

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