"More than machinery, we need humanity."

Plague Poems – The Seventy-Third Week

How exhausting it is
to begin your week
knowing that by week’s end
the situation will have become
even more dire.

And how exhausting it is
when you come to realize
that you are growing accustomed
to beginning your weeks
in this horrid way.


I confess
when I began
writing these foolish poems
I believed I would only need
to write them for a few weeks
they were to be about the pandemic
and surely it would not last
very long.

Now here I sit
beginning my seventy-third week
of these foolish poems
and I want to scream.


I know that you are
losing patience
with wearing a mask
and with travel restrictions
and with your unvaccinated neighbors
and with being stuck at home
but somehow you must find
the strength to endure.

you may be losing patience
bu the plague’s patience
is limitless.


You should not say
that it is just as bad
as it was a year ago
for it is easy enough
to go and check the data
which clearly shows
that it is not just as bad
as it was a year ago.

it is not just as bad
as it was a year ago.

It is worse.


Editorial Note: This is a collection of Plague Poems written between June 31, 2021 and August 6, 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.


Studying history
taught me to be attentive
to the small details
the subtle cues
that hint at graver problems
the way a crisis is foretold
not on the front page.

Having studied history
I did not expect
the signs of coming collapse
to be as obvious
as the ones that surround us.


When it was happening
over there
we told ourselves
it would not happen
over here.

And when it happened
over here
we told ourselves
it was just a fluke.

And when it was happening
over there (again)
we told ourselves
it would not happen
over here (again).

And now
here we are.


The headlines touting
the end of the pandemic
have aged even more poorly
than the unused vaccines
quietly expiring
on pharmacy shelves.


Of the many things
I miss
from my life before
perhaps that which
I miss the most
is being able to believe
that we would be ready
if a pandemic were to occur.


It is not the case
that we lack the words
to describe the horrors
of the present moment
but that we already used
those same words
to describe yesterday’s horrors.


Please, my friend,
you must get your facts straight
we are not back
exactly where we were
a year ago.

At this point a year ago
the number of daily cases
was decreasing.


The plague’s belly
is bottomless
it never tires of gorging itself
for its hunger is never sated
a chasm like mouth
it does not even stop to chew.

The plague will devour
as much life as can be
shoveled into its open maw
but that does not mean
that we
must keep fading it.


Like an awkward embrace
while meeting for drinks
with a former love
(from a long relationship
that ended in shuddering tears)
the anxiety wrought tightness
has returned to my chest
seizing me
with the familiar grip
that I had labored to forget
as its touch breaks my heart anew.


If you have lost
your sense of smell
you may have fallen
victim to the plague.

If you have lost
your sense of taste
you may have fallen
victim to the plague.

If you have lost
your sense of empathy
you may have fallen
victim to the plague.


Once a plague year
is permitted to become
plague years
you must not be surprised when
the plague’s second year
threatens to become
the plague’s third year.


Whenever you find yourself
as you look upon
the latest headlines
say these words aloud:
that it is this way
does not mean
that it had to be this way.


When the plague was new
I purchased a reusable mask
an excellent one that was
comfortable around my ears
soft against my nose
even moderately fashionable.

But now
the fabric has grown thin
and its straps have lost
their original elasticity.

It was not meant to last
this long.


When the plague was new
our leaders
sought to satisfy its hunger
by feeding it
the old and the infirm.

As that proved insufficient
to satiate the plague
our leaders
have now decided
to let it eat the young.


When first I sat down
in my quarantine chair
the tree outside my window
was beginning to flower
from here I watched
as leaves replaced flowers
as the leaves turned red
as snow covered the branches
and as the flowers returned
I fear I shall watch this cycle again
from this chair.


Too many of those
who took comfort
in the promise
that we
shall make it through this
are no longer with us
in this moment
when we once more
try to take comfort
in the promise
that we
shall make it through this.


By now
you should have read
the user manual
the one that you were given
when you first arrived
the user manual says:
this world will break 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 Seventy-Third Week

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

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

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This entry was posted on August 13, 2021 by in Plague Poems and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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