"More than machinery, we need humanity."

Plague Poems – The Eighty-Fifth Week

If you wish to see
the pandemic
continue even longer
by all means
act as though
it has already ended.


We will not
to mourn.

We will not
to think.

We will not
to rest.

I fear
we will not
while we
still can.


There is something wrong
with the mail
the letters I send
now take weeks
they now take several weeks
to reach their destinations.

And so
I have taken
to beginning my letters
with the words:
By the time this reaches you,
I hope the pandemic
has ended.


When misfortunes struck
my grandfather insisted
that we not despair
but instead see the tragedy
as having given us
a good story
a tale of endurance
to tell.

From us
this catastrophe
the pandemic
has taken so much
and it has not
even left us
with a good story
to tell.


Editorial Note: This is a collection of Plague Poems written between October 23, 2021 and October 29, 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 you go shopping
you might as well
purchase hand sanitizer
and another box of masks
if you do not wind up
needing them
in the coming months
just put them in the back
of your closet
that way you will have them
when the pandemic ends.


We used to laugh
at the way
the plastic sign reading
“no food or drink”
was so casually ignored.

next to that plastic sign
hangs a paper printout
which reads
“masks required”
and we are too distraught
to laugh at how
it is so casually ignored.


When I returned to it
I found my office
was much the same
as I had left it
though the I that returned
to once more sit
at my desk
is but a strange doppelganger
of the person
who previously occupied
this space.


At the edge of my vision
rests the black line
where my mask presses
against the bridge of my nose
as I look ahead
I try to ignore
its distracting presence
yet just like the virus
try as I might
not to let it distract me
it is always there
at the edge of my awareness.


When the news
about politics, or
about technology, or
about the economy, or
about education
fills you with despair
take a moment
to remind yourself
that there is also
an ongoing pandemic.


It is certainly
too early
still much too early
for any sort
of final pronouncement
on the present decade
though it seems fair
to admit
that it is off to a horrid start.


At the time
we were insulted
that our leaders
thought our lives
were only worth
a few thousand dollars
yet in retrospect
what a nice change it was
for our leaders
to think our lives
were worth anything.


We do not lack
for proof
that a person
just one person
can make a difference.

What we desperately want
is proof
that a person
just one person
can make a positive difference
for by now we know all too well
that it only takes
a person
just one person
to make everything worse.


When the plague began
I put my hope
into a box
and placed it in a drawer
to keep it safe
until I was ready
to retrieve it.

when I checked
to make sure the box
was still there
I discovered
that something
has chewed a hole
into the cardboard.

And now
the box is empty.


After nearly two years
of plague
We are quite accustomed
to settling for less
though we must not forget
that we still deserve
so much more.


It is easier
(more socially acceptable)
to laugh
than it is to scream
but remember
the joke
is on you.


While wearing
a high-tech headset
you will someday be able
to see your hovel
as a mansion
to see your friends
as cartoon avatars
to travel the world
while staying put
but as your eyes
behold such lovely illusions
your nose shall still inhale
the acrid scent
of your burning world.


Having given up
on the idea
of living
in a virtuous world
we pin our hopes
on the idea
of living
in a virtual world.


in this exceptional land
we would prefer
not to know.

It is easier
to carry on
when the burden
of knowledge
is not weighing on us.

It is hard enough
knowing there is a pandemic
we would prefer
not to know
that it has claimed
more than forty thousand lives
this month.


From a block away
I recognized him
and when he looked at me
as I drew nearer
I was grateful
that my mask
prevented him
from recognizing me
for I lacked the energy
to concoct a polite lie
if asked how I have been.

still wearing a mask
is not such a bad thing
after all.


Stop waiting
to be carried
the rest of the way
you are not sitting
at a bus station
but leaning against
a gravestone
you got here
by putting one foot
in front of the other
and that
is the only way out
catch your breath
but do not get comfortable
you still have so far
to walk.



Plague Poems…the next 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 Eighty-Fifth Week

  1. Pingback: Plague Poems – The Eighty-Fourth Week | LibrarianShipwreck

  2. Makaveli
    November 7, 2021

    i really appreciate all of your writing, it makes me think in ways I haven’t thought about and have helped me engage in the world around me, help cope with the seemingly unending pandemic, and piece together a more coherent worldview and intentional engagement with social media platforms. forever thankful 🙂

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This entry was posted on November 5, 2021 by in Plague Poems and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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