"More than machinery, we need humanity."

Plague Poems – The Fifty-Third Week

Let not your excitement
for your impending vaccination
convince you
that this avoidable tragedy
that this historic failure
should in any way
be hailed
as a success.


When first they told me
to stay home
I was willing to oblige
eager to do my part
to help ensure
the plague would be gone
by that summer.

Though they still tell me
to stay home
and I am fortunate enough
to be able to oblige
I do not believe
the plague will be gone
by this summer.


After enough months
even a warped approximation
of normalcy
begins to resemble
a deceptively convincing
of what was once considered
to be normal.


When they told me
fifty-two weeks agao
that I would need to stay inside
for two weeks
I knew better than to believe
it would only be necessary
to stay inside for two weeks
but in all of my pessimism
I did not expect
that I would still need
to stay inside
fifty-two weeks later.


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


Whenever I think back
on past years
I am overcome with regret
for the things I did not do
and I know that I have only
to hold accountable for
these missed chances
these unsatisfactory choices.

At least when I look back
on this past year
I am able to blame
the plague.


If you had only
read the news
a little more carefully
you would not
be so confident
in declaring that
the plague
will be over soon.


When they say of the plague
that we
are all in this together
and that either we
defeat it together
or fail together
you must understand
that we
extends beyond the borders
of your country.


My chest was tight
my head was aching
and my left eyelid was
nervously twitching
as I sat at my desk
a year ago
shaking with the belief
that the plague
was being underestimated.

The only thing
that is different today
is that the desk
at which I sit
is now in a different room.


The plague
is not the only
that afflicts us.


There are days
when you will
grieve with sorrow.

There are days
when you will
grieve in rage.

And there are days
when you will
because you have forgotten
how it feels
to not be grieving.


Those who have studied history
know better than to say
“this is not who we are”
though such knowledge
only makes it more painful
to hear those words
after every tragedy.


I am thankful
for my mask
without it I might feel obligated
to hide
my despairing rage
behind a calm expression
it is much more convenient
much less draining
to simply wear
an actual mask.


I have heard it said
repeatedly of late
that the plague is near its end
not over yet
but soon
it is only a matter of weeks
at worst a matter of months
before the plague vanishes.

Yes, I have heard this said
but it does not seem
that the plague is listening.


It is not that
are impatient
but that the plague
is much more patient
than we.


That so many
are so eager
to forget that this
ever happened
is why this
will happen again.


take care
with your metaphors
not all things
can be compared to a virus
when facing an illness
there are
medicines to prescribe
vaccines to administer
public health policies to enact
if only the injustices that
plague your society
could be cured by
a single injection.


We used to
roll our eyes
at the ragged folk
who spouted grim predictions
stuffed our ears
so as not to hear the words
that would upend our plans
and remained resolute
in our belief
that all was going according to plan.

as such habits have resumed
has returned to normal.


Even as you wait for your turn
have patience for
your friends
when they share pictures
of themselves being vaccinated
at least in these images
there is a good reason why
they are gathered indoors
with strangers.


When tragedies heap
wreckage atop ruin
the last thing that is wanted
is a reminder that this mountain
continues to grow.

I know you are
already grieving
already weeping
but know that by the day’s end
the plague will have claimed
five hundred and forty thousand
of your neighbors.


Though I am eager
to embrace my aging parents
to raise a glass with friends
to dance wildly to loud music
to share in an audience’s laughter
and to leave my mask at home
more than anything else
that which I most hope to do
after the plague ends
is to have a night
of restful sleep.



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-Third Week

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

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

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