"More than machinery, we need humanity."

Plague Poems – the Fifty Sixth Week

The less we speak
about the plague
the more we say
about the plague times.


Only a cynic
refuses to be impressed
by the well executed cleanup
that occurs in the aftermath
of a train wreck.

Only a fool
is convinced
that the well executed cleanup
means that the train wreck
should be regarded a success.


We are told that
scaring people
does not ultimately work
the frightened behave irrationally
seeing premonitions of doom
in every new headline
yet have sympathy for those
who are afraid
for there are moments
wherein the absence of fear
is the gravest irrationality.


Do not say
that you are in limbo
such an expression
makes this tragedy
sound like a delayed train
it cheapens
the present moment
by failing
to name it accurately
my friend
you must credit the source
of your unhappy stasis:
you are not in limbo
you are in a plague.


Editorial Note: This is a collection of Plague Poems written between April 3, 2021 and April 9, 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.


A quantity of daily deaths
that horrified us
a year ago
is now hailed as a clear sign
of progress.


The more eagerly we rush
to stamp a definitive
on the plague times
the more we ensure
that this foul era
will continue.


When Orpheus walked
out of the underworld
he was instructed
not to look behind him
(lest Eurydice should vanish)
though he faltered
he had cause to believe
looking backwards would be unwise
but what excuse have we
for our refusal to glance back
at the path that brought us here?


Some will mourn
for the time that was lost
and others will mourn
for the lives that were lost
to grieve for time
is not the same as
to grieve for lives
those who head to bars
do not look the same
as those who weep in cemeteries
but we need not pretend
that we are not all mourning.


Do not fall
for the conspiratorial beliefs
circulating about the vaccines
the shot will not
scramble your DNA or
turn you into the puppet
of some smirking technologist
you must not fall
for such strange ideas
but you also must not believe
that the vaccine
will make you invincible.


My friends
down the street
are planning to venture
back outside.

My friends
in other countries
are planning to return
to lockdown.

My friends
regardless of place
keep alternating
back and forth between
these forms of planning.


In this moment when
the data showing
60,000 new cases each day
is met with shrugs
you must try to remember
how at this moment last year
the data showing
30,000 new cases each day
was met with worry.


Grow accustomed
to the annoying pull
of your mask’s elastic straps.

Slowly adjust
to working every day
mere steps from where you woke.

Gradually learn
to be satisfied by seeing
your friends only on a screen.

But refuse
to become inured to
the plague’s ever rising toll.


Though we have lost
in the plague
it remains quite focused
on us.


We panicked
at the first wave
we shuddered
at the second wave
we gawked in numb horror
at the third wave
and now we putter about
with our backs turned
waiting disinterestedly for
the fourth wave
while wading in waters
higher than the crests
of the first two waves.


Do not confuse
being told that you can stop
frantically cleaning ever surface
and scrubbing the packaging
on your groceries
with the plague’s end
your hands will be thankful
to no longer be constantly
lathered in cleaning chemicals
but you must still
cover your nose and mouth.


it is because
I hope
to be with you
in the summer that
I fear
I must refrain
from being with you
in the spring.


If the creation of vaccines
was the only thing necessary
to defeat this plague
we would be justified
in believing that this ordeal
would soon be over
alas the vaccines need
our assistance to succeed
and too many of us
are still blithely
assisting the plague.


For every step
we take a step
and then we are perplexed
at how we do not seem
to be making much progress.


Enjoyable though it was
to fantasize
about what you would do
at the plague time’s end
now you must stop dreaming
about the after
and return to preparing yourself
to endure
as the plague times continue.


When I was young
I struggled to understand
how those who lived
in dark times
were able to carry on
in the midst of such horrors.

Now that I am old
I have come to realize
that many of those
who live in dark times
simply allow their eyes
to grow accustomed to the gloom.



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 Sixth Week

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

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

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This entry was posted on April 16, 2021 by in Plague Poems and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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