"More than machinery, we need humanity."

Plague Poems – The Seventy-Eighth Week

At the start of every month
I tell myself
that this is the month
in which the pandemic
will finally come to an end.

Of course I know
that I am lying to myself
(of course I know that)
but if I just believe
that maybe this month
it will end
than maybe next month
I will be right.


If you are forced
to praise your leaders
for their management
of the pandemic
you are free to say
that they lived
up to your expectations.


Historians debate
which species of rodent
was responsible for spreading
the Black Death
yet no matter which
tailed creature it was
those small beasts could not
have truly understood
that which they carried.

have no such excuse.


My friend is trying
to break
the habits he developed
during the plague times:
too much drink and food
too little sleep and work,
glumly he confesses
that it would be easier
to break
the habits he developed
during the plague times
if we were not still
enduring the plague times.


Editorial Note: This is a collection of Plague Poems written between September 4, 2021 and September 10, 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.


When we finally meet
in the physical world
people always tell me
that I am taller
than they though I would be.

What a relief it is to know
that I am still capable
of standing up straight
even while my spirit
is hunched over.


We talked about
the children
we do not yet have
and about what we might
name them.

We talked about
our parents’ mistakes
to ensure we do not
just wind up
replicating them.

We talked about
the world awaiting
our potential child
and then
we stopped talking
about having children.


It was not an illusion
from the bow of your lifeboat
was truly in sight
was finally in sight
but reaching that solid safety
would have required
that we row togehter
and too many of our boat-mates
were otherwise occupied
drilling holes
into the lifeboat’s bottom.


At this point last year
if you had dared suggest
that we would still be here
(and that it would be even worse)
a year later
you would have been mocked
as an alarmist.

How little comfort
those alarmists must derive
from having been right.


Before the headlines announce
that here, in this exceptional land
the plague
has claimed more than
seven hundred thousand lives
prompting many
to shudder with horror
and wail “how could this
have happened here?”
there will be weeks
like this one
where thousands of deaths
go unacknowledged.


If you were one of the few
able to revel
in the brief respite
of the early summer
hold tight to your memories
of those sunny days
of those warm nights
it will help you to endure
the cold seasons ahead.


The stores
are filled with skeletons
hollow eyes glaring
clenched teeth grinning.

The stores
are filled with ghosts
drifting without aim
mourning incessantly.

The stores
are filled with monsters
their bestial laughs
and threatening poses.

And also
the stores are filled
with decorations for Halloween.


We laugh at the idea
of rearranging deck chairs
on the Titanic
of changing seats
on the Hindenburg
of tightening safety belts
on the Challenger
one day our descendants
will laugh at the idea
of scrolling social media
during the pandemic.


According to the reports
the delta wave
has reached its peak
and though this news
should hearten you
remind yourslef
that this is not the first time
you have been heartened
to hear that a wave is receding
and this may not be
the last time you will be heartened
by such news.


Of course
we are far too mature
to still be fascinated by death
we outgrew funeral garb
in high school
we grow embarassed
when our parents pull out
those old photos at holiday parties
we no longer romanticize death
well-adjusted adults don’t do that
they prefer to just ignore it.


In Exodus
plagues of
blood and frogs
lice and wild beasts
animal pestilence and boils
hail and locusts and
days of darkness
were ignored.

How difficult it is to believe
that the death of the first born
was enough to shock
in this moment
when the plague walks
through our schools.


You must forget
whatever it was
your high school teachers
praised you for
the skills they assured you
would guarantee
your future sucess
are meaningless here.

This place doesn’t need
people who are a pleasure
to have in class
it needs those who can
with grace.


I know you are concerned
about being dressed fashionably
you certainly would not want
to appear laughable
but I assure you
that wearing a mask
during a pandemic
is not the same
as wearing a band’s t-shirt
to one of their performances.


I used to dislike crowds
though I will admit
if you had asked me why
two years ago
I would have struggled
to provide you
with a decent answer.

I fell that today
if pushed
I could offer
many good reasons
for why I so dislike crowds.


We are all of us
for this to end
yet still not
desperate enough
to do what is needed.


When we were young
our elders told us
that it was our duty
to make the world
a better place.

Now that we are older
we tell today’s young
that it is their duty
to make the world
a better place.

It is as though
age has convinced us
that we are no longer
up to the task.



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

One comment on “Plague Poems – The Seventy-Eighth Week

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

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This entry was posted on September 17, 2021 by in Plague Poems and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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