"More than machinery, we need humanity."

Plague Poems – The Sixty-Ninth Week

We celebrate
with the greatest intensity
when we suspect
that we have little cause
to celebrate.


How very unfortunate
are those
who can act as though
this last year
never happened.

How very unfortunate
are those
for whom
this last year
never ended.


And today
the patriotic snack cakes
are on sale
at the supermarket.


After more than a year apart
we sat on his small porch
drinking warm beer
and telling each other
about all of the nothing
we had done
since last we saw one another.

I thought he looked the same
as before
just thinner
I wish my own deterioration
had been equally small.


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


From the mouths
of newscasters
from the lecterns
of politicians
we no longer hear much
about the pandemic
but if you listen
(if you are willing to listen)
plenty of coughing
can still be heard.


Those lacking
in the virtues
of temperance
of generosity
of patience
of conscientiousness
of benevolence
deride any unselfish decision
mock and empathetic act
as virtue signaling.


In my youth
tales set in a ruin swept future
filled me with excitement
as I imagined myself
battling mutants
instead of writing essays.

Now that I am old
and that ruin swept future
seems near
what fills me with excitement
is the idea that I might
eke out a living
grading essays.


There are some days
when I forget
exactly what it is
that I am so worried about
though luckily
I still remember
to worry.


Should you find yourself
searching for words
where you are asked
(and you will be asked)
what new skill
you developed
during the pandemic
calmly reply
that you learned
how to survive a pandemic.


My friend asked
if I am available
to watch her cat
knowing how desperate
she has been to travel
I agreed
and inquired as to her destination
when she answered “Florida”
I asked “for the beach”
to which she replied
“for a funeral.”

Here uncle is now
amongst the pandemic’s victims.

After so many months
of always making sure
to have a mask
before leaving home
how strange it feels
to get three blocks
from your abode
before realizing
that you left your mask
on the little table
next to your front door.


It is easy
to look at the death count
when you do not
personally know
any of the individuals
who appear in that count
as little more
than nameless numbers.


According to the headlines
the pandemic has now claimed
than four million lives.

According to studies
that we ignored
the pandemic had claimed
that many lives
months ago.

I do not know
whether the headlines
or the studies are correct
though I do know
the pandemic is not over.


And so it was
that in the plague’s
second summer
went out of style
while selfishness
became all the rage.


Do not let the fact
that it could have been
even worse
lead you to forget
that it did not have to be
this bad.


I sit
at my desk

I am
for things to get

I am
for things to get

Since I am sitting here
surely I must be
for something.


It is understandable
why you feel frustrated
for every three steps forward
we immediately take
three steps back
it is infuriating
to know that your feet are moving
while you remain in place
and yet nevertheless
you must keep walking.


I confess
that I do not know
what it will take
to convince you
if the numbers
if the coffins
if the fires
if the variants
if the floods
if the heat
if these cannot convince you
that the crises are real
I do not know what will.

I have not given up
on you
but I fear
I will soon.


From my childhood
I remember a game
in which the only way to win
was for the players
to win together
otherwise the game itself
with its colorful cardboard
would be victorious.

We are now losing
a version of that game
though the way to win
could be understood by a child.


Fascinated by ruins
as a child
I would spend hours
pouring over tomes
filled with pictures
of once mighty structures
crumbling into nothingness.

Consumed by such images
I struggled to imagine
how the civilizations
that erected these marvels
could collapse.

And now
I know.



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-Ninth Week

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

  2. Pingback: Plague Poems – The Seventieth Week | LibrarianShipwreck

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This entry was posted on July 15, 2021 by in Plague Poems and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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