"More than machinery, we need humanity."

Plague Poems – The Eighty-Ninth Week

By vehicle
by train
by airplane
thus shall we travel
this week
to be together
with one another.

By vehicle
by train
by airplane
thus shall the plague travel
this week
to be together
with us.


A year ago
they asked us
to cancel our plans
knowing (of course)
that many
would still gather
but that many others
would heed the request.

This year
they do not bother to ask
for those who would
still be willing to listen
are likely those
who can safely gather.


Above the oranges
grapefruits and lemons
at the grocery store
a sign asks customers
“please do not squeeze me”
as the pandemic
has not yet ended.

Though I purchased
several oranges
I left the sign there
if you should want
to take it with you
for your family gathering.


In a dream
I walked through the aisles
of a crowded supermarket
and as I loaded my cart
with strange objects
what alerted me
that something was awry
what convinced me
that I was actually sleeping
was that every single one
of my fellow shoppers
were wearing their masks properly.


Editorial Note: This is a collection of Plague Poems written between November 20, 2021 and November 26, 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.


Where once
we shuddered
when cases increased
we can now
scarcely find
the energy necessary
to shrug.


It is possible
to read
the same sentence
the same paragraph
multiple times and yet
retain nothing
from the words read there.

After nearly two years
of plague
we have read
the same sentence
the same paragraph
multiple times
retaining nothing and yet
we are eager
to turn the page.


Before you go shopping
consult the recipes
check the spices
catalog the fridge’s contents
verify who is coming
will they really bring it
is so-and-so still vegan
don’t stress
you need not buy
anything special for the plague
it is not a very picky eater.


Though I do not believe
the virus
has robbed me
of my sense of taste
I confess
that everything
no matter how
supposedly sweet
now just tastes
on my tongue.


As you pack your bags
for the holiday weekend
remember to make space
for an extra sweater
comfortable pants
and plenty of reading material
but as you zip up your suitcase
and take it out to the car
be certain that you are not
taking the plague with you.


How fortunate
that the sign on the door
which politely asks
customers to wear masks
is an inanimate object
otherwise it might
be saddened
by how blithely
its modest entreaty
goes ignored.


When they ask tomorrow
what you have been up to
or about your plans
they will not be satisfied
if you say
that you have been
surviving a plague
and that you plan
to keep enduring
these are true answers
but not polite ones
you still have time to practice
less confrontational replies.


According to
my brother in law
we are at greater risk
of dying in a car crash
than of being
taken away by the plague
and though he is not wrong
he seems to be forgetting
that car crashes
are not contagious.


When giving thanks
be grateful
that you have survived
the plague thus far.

But remember
it is still too soon
to definitively state
that you have survived
the plague.

if you are fortunate
you will be able
to give such conclusive thanks
on this day next year.



Do not mention it
to your uncle
he will
spout conspiracies.

Do not comment on it
to your grandmother
she will
change the subject.

Do not describe it
to your siblings
they will
tell you to move on.

I am not there
to hear your concerns
about the plague
but know
you are not alone.


Of course
you are tired
exhausted even
after these many months
how could you not be
in desperate need of rest.

You have good reason
to feel so drained
but at least today
you need not dwell
on the true sources
of your exhaustion
instead you can
just blame it
on the tryptophan.


With hot water
you can rinse
the cranberry skin
from the food processor.

With a new sponge
you can scrub
the burnt marshmallow
from the casserole dish.

With strong soap
you can clean
the grease
from the broiler pan.

If only
it were as easy
to wash the plague
from your thoughts.


Responsible doctors
speak in muted tones
wary that their words
might cause panic.

But perhaps
an ounce of overreaction
would be preferable
to the blasé indifference
we show towards
concerning developments
in the plague.


When you look
at the latest numbers
many health departments
will take
a few days off
their employees will take
a few well deserved days off
for the holiday
but the plague
never takes a day off.


That the latest news is
so unsurprising
so wholly predictable
so completely in line
with the warnings
we blithely ignored
only serves
to make the latest news


Sitting across from me
at the family table
my aunt (the doctor)
cuts her leftover turkey

When I ask
what she thinks
of the latest news
she looks up

The table goes silent
to hear her response
as she clears her throat

And then
she asks
for the stuffing.



have learned

But we.

have learned



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-Ninth Week

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

  2. shakespearian12
    December 3, 2021

    I like this. Good job.

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This entry was posted on December 3, 2021 by in Plague Poems and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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