"More than machinery, we need humanity."

Plague Poems – The Seventy-Second Week

I would not be so bold
as to now predict
exactly how much longer
the plague will last
for I will admit
that it has already lasted
(much longer)
than I had initially predicted.


Whenever I place another order
for disposable masks
I tell myself that
this will be the last time
I need to place such an order
and when a few months later
I place another order
again I tell myself that
this will be the last time
and in that “perhaps” I find hope.


Contrary to the brightly lit maps
that radiate from TV screens
on election nights
the states are not a color
no, they do not belong to
a single hue or tint
there are no blue states
there are no red states
there are only plague states.


When the shop on the corner
removed the sign
from its door that read
“you must wear a mask to enter”
I grew worried.

As I walked by the shop today
and noticed that the sign
had returned to the shop’s door
I grew even more worried.


Editorial Note: This is a collection of Plague Poems written between June 24, 2021 and July 30, 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.


Amidst the renewed talk
of personal responsibility
you must not forget
that these exhausting discussions
could have been prevented
had those persons responsible
for managing the pandemic
fulfilled their duties.


We know what it is
that we must do
and yet still
(even now)
we refuse to do it.

How unfortunate it is
that those words
are applicable
to so very many
of the crises
in which we are mired.


After a year
(after more than a year)
we find ourselves once more
worriedly gazing towards
the fall
it is debatable whether or not
we are any wiser
but the gray in our hair
but the lines on our faces
but the stoop in our shoulders
testifies that we are older
so much older now.


From bitter experience
we know where it is
that this present route
will take us
and nevertheless
we just keep going.


In our eagerness to declare victory
the moment that we had
raced ahead
of the steady-paced virus
we happily emulated
the overconfident hare
basking in the sunlight
forgetting to our detriment
that in that ancient fable
it is the slow but steady tortoise
that wins the race.


It is not the case
that we could not imagine
that it would be this bad
but that we were unwilling
to imagine
that it would be this bad
for so long.


When the ship
is already sinking
it is not advisable
to drill fresh holes
into its hull.


Over these last months
when I grumbled
that it was premature
to speak or write about
the plague
in the past tense
I had hoped
I had prayed
that I would be proven wrong.


Every time we fail
the plague provides us
with another opportunity
to take the test again
and though the exam questions
remain the same
time after time after time
we refuse to give the correct answers
though at this point
we cannot claim not to know them.


The novel
you intended to write
remains unfinished.

The flour
you had purchased for baking
sits unopened on the shelf.

The instrument
you so wanted to master
remains in its case.

Do not lament
if your pandemic project
has not been completed
for the pandemic is far from over.


In frightening movies
the scenes wherein the hero
pays no heed
to the dire warnings
of the frightened villagers
always struck me as ridiculous.

In the real world
(I would scoff)
nobody would ignore such
obvious signs of danger.

But now
I no longer find such scenes


A year ago
in the waning days of July
I could not imagine
(I refused to imagine)
that a year later
I would again be bracing
for a plague riddled fall.

And now
in the waning days of July
I cannot imagine
(I am too jaded to imagine)
that a year from now
we will not be here again.


Those who are raised
to believe
that everything
will turn out alright
in the end
are ill prepared for the moments
when it becomes clear
that it is quite horribly likely
that everything
will not turn out alright
in the end.


The plague would not be
(the plague could not be)
this successful
if it did not have
so many willing helpers.


Living as I do
here, in this city
I recognize that many
of my fears
are less than rational
for I have little cause
to worry about poisonous spiders
or rampaging bears.

Living as I do
here, in this exceptional country
I recognize that my fear
of the virus
is entirely rational.


Even now
especially now
you must believe
that a week will come
when the pandemic
finally ends.

that week will come
but it will not be
next week.



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 Seventy-Second Week

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

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

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

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