"More than machinery, we need humanity."

Plague Poems – The Fifty-Second Week

It is not
that this week
marks the anniversary
of the plague
but that this week
marks the anniversary
of our no longer being able
to pretend
that the plague
could not strike us here.


Of course
you are not required
to read any of the articles
that will appear this week
opining on our plague year
but as you pass over them
in your pandemic fatigue
take a moment
to acknowledge how good it is
that at least some people
are still thinking
about the plague.


There is no need to exaggerate
stop yourself from groaning
that you cannot believe
you have been enduring
for an entire year
after all there is still another week
seven more days to trudge through
before you can truly say
that you have been enduring
for an entire year.


After the pandemic ends
when it is well and truly
I shall start living my life.

that is what I will do
after the pandemic ends.

At least this is what
I tell myself
as another day
as yet another day
of isolation drags to a close.


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


Because so many
cannot endure
these restrictions
for even a moment longer
we must all prepare ourselves
for either the return of restrictions
or the resurgance
of the plague.


A year ago
it was understandable
if unwise
to believe that the pandemic
would be over soon.

A year later
it is understandable
if unwise
to believe that the pandemic
will be over soon.


Perhaps it is simply because
of this winter’s temperatures
if not that is surely due
to how dry my apartment becomes
failing that it has to be caused
by my incessant hand washing
for it has only been a year
and yet my hands
are now as wrinkled and thin
as my grandfather’s were.


Where once it required
genuine effort
a stalwart commitment to
selectively closing your eyes
strategically stopping up your ears
to avoid
learning of the number of
daily deaths
it now requires genuine effort
some conscious act
to keep yourself informed
of that woeful number.


On the days when you tire
of pacing in quarantine
and choose to walk out of doors
take care to follow a random path
north at the intersection
west at the next
east for half a mile
then south before
quickly turning east
thus you can pretend
that you are not
simply going in circles.


When you are tired
so bored and so aggravated
with the voices of those
urging caution
it is in that moment
through exhaustion
through frustration
that you must force yourselfv
to listen to their wary words.


Eager though you may be
for life to return
to the way it once was
there is no shame in confessing
that you no longer remember
how to behave in the world
that demanded you
maintain a performance
of acting as though you believed
that world was stable.


If the weather was only permitted
to be pleasant
when all is right in the world
there would never be days
with pleasant weather
that you know this unfortunate fact
only makes it more essential
that you allow the sun
to touch your face
on the days
when the birdsong fills the trees.


We knew
a year ago
that the plague was here
yet we were certain
we would be spared
other people would get sick
other people would die
but we
would remain healthy
and then
the adored movie star fell ill
and then
the basketball game was canceled
and then
we began to know fear.


As the bad news
about the pandemic
begins to slowly dissipate
the bad news
which the pandemic
had distracted us from
once more becomes visible.


We were never good at talking
about the dead
our silence on the matter
was not of the reflective
or of the mournful variety.

We did not know how to talk
about the dead
so we said nothing
about them at all.


When they advised
that the time had come
to wear a disposable mask
beneath a cloth one
I purchased a supply of KF94s
now that this stock has dwindled
my hopes tell me
that I need not bother
to order too many more
but this year has taught me
not to make decisions
based on hope.


By now
you should have learned
not to mark the dates
politicians optimistically point to
on your calendar.

How many more
can you survive?

As you long for
the day
that the pandemic ends
you need only know
that today
is not that day.


Had you dared predict
a year ago
that 100,000
of your neighbors
would be claimed by the plague
you would have been vilified
for your pessimism.

Should you predict
that 600,000
of your neighbors
will be claimed by the plague
before its end
you will solicit only
knowing sighs.


The lessons
of this plague
will be written down
in books
that no one
will bother to read.


You may have forgotten
how it feels
to embrace your
aging parents.

You may have forgotten
how it sounds
inside of a noisy
concert hall.

You may have forgotten
how it smells
inside of a crowded

But you must not forget
that all of this
was preventable.



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 Fifty-Second Week

  1. Pingback: Plague Poems – The Fifty-First Week | LibrarianShipwreck

  2. Pingback: Plague Poems – The Fifty-Third Week | LibrarianShipwreck

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