"More than machinery, we need humanity."

Plague Poems – The Sixty-Third Week

My apologies
I do not wish to ruin your week
when it has only just begun
but as you remove your mask
and bask in the idea
of a return to normalcy
you should be aware
that by mid-week
the plague will claim
your five hundred and
ninety thousandth neighbor.


When we explain
to future generations
what happened to the Titanic
we will have to convince them
that there used to be icebergs.


Take care
that you do not
bury your hopes
with the dead.


On May 24, 2020
the newspaper of record
lamented the incalculable loss
of the plague’s first
hundred thousand victims
(victims here)
by listing their names
on its gray front page.

A year later
and an additional
four hundred ninety thousand
deaths later
it is just another Monday.


Editorial Note: This is a collection of Plague Poems written between May 22, 2021 and May 28, 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.


If we wait
to begin mourning
until the last grave has been dug
then it will be weeks
if it is not months
it it is not years
before we can begin grieving.

Mourning can be deferred
but not forever.


Choose your tenses carefully
it is unwise
to claim that you have
survived the pandemic
while you are still in the process of
surviving the pandemic.


Be thankful
that you still have time
to learn from the events
of the last year
many of your neighbors
not longer have
that opportunity.


It is disorienting
to live in a world
in which everything can change
without anything changing.


It is not the case
that there is nothing more to say
about the plague
but that we prefer not
to speak about it.


When the worst
is behind you
it is imperative
that you do not relax your pace
for if you glance back
over your shoulder
you will see that the worst
is hungrily pursuing you.


You probably did not see it
in the headlines
or hear about it in bereft tones
from elected officials
(it was expected)
(such things no longer shock us)
but in this moment
that the plague has now claimed
more than
five hundred and ninety thousand
in this exceptional land.


A frustrating teacher
history never tells
when the final grades will be assigned
semesters end
with no A B C D or F
the only mark on your report card
an incomplete
forcing you to keep working
studying in perpetuity
out of the hope
that when grades are finalized
you just might pass.


We need not wait
for this plague
or for the next plague
to destroy us
we are perfectly capable
of doing that ourselves.


After so many months
spent sitting in these chairs
staring into the screen
we are eager to return
to sitting in other chairs
while staring into the screen.


We ruminate
over the plague’s origins
so that we can place the blame
over there
in some decent elsewhere
and thus we are protected
from having to hold responsible
those who abandoned us
as the plague spread
over here.


The plague can still be seen
provided that you
are willing to look
but it is so much easier
to point your gaze
at something less depressing.

Refusing to think
about that which seems
will not prevent those things
from occurring.


How wonderful it would be
to live in a world
in which the plague
was the only thing
to worry about.


If progress is a book
then it is one we have dropped
as we have trudged forward
and though this sturdy tome
can withstand a fall
as we pick it back up
wiping grime from its cover
we must admit
that we have forgotten
the page we were on.


The distance between us
I cannot buy you a drink
I cannot listen to your worries
I cannot clasp your hand
in this moment
when despair claws at you
all that I can offer
is my assurance
that you are not alone
in feeling hopeless.

I am not with you
but I am there with you.



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 Sixty-Third Week

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

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

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This entry was posted on June 4, 2021 by in Plague Poems and tagged , , , , , , , , , .

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