"More than machinery, we need humanity."

Plague Poems – The Ninety-First Week

You have not
the plague.

You are
the plague.

And your
on understanding
that distinction.


We wish to do the right thing
the responsible thing
but doing so
can be costly
can be bothersome
and it is so much easier
so much quicker
to do the wrong thing
the irresponsible thing.

Just like our neighbors.


Some will
to regret
the choices
they are now

some will not
to regret
ever again.


Against the darkness
we lit candles
and when they burned down
to nothing
on the next night
we lit one candle more.

But now we have used up
all forty-four candles
that we in the box
and so we singe our fingers
lighting our few
remaining matches
against the darkness.


Editorial Note: This is a collection of Plague Poems written between December 4, 2021 and December 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 the snow comes
it will cover the dead leaves
blanketing them
as they decompose
feeding the dormant life
which will bloom in the spring.

But the discarded masks
that litter the ground
those will remain
long after the snow melts.

And so too
I fear
will the virus.


A handsome man
smiles at me
from the teal packaging
of my disposable mask.

I like to imagine
we have become friends
after these many months.

So whenever I open a new mask
I say to him
“thank you handsome man”
just so he feels

How I despise
his calm handsome smile.


Stop your griping
about the cost
of disposable masks
of at-home test kits
of calling in sick
they gave you
thirty-two hundred dollars
surely you knew
to save it
for these expenses.

Do not forget
we are all in this together
but when the bill arrives
you are all alone.


Between Christmas songs
a plaintive voice
comes over the speakers
to politely ask shoppers
to wear their masks
but like the crooned words
about having yourself
a merry little Christmas
the voice’s request
fades ignored
into the background.


I know it is tempting
to exhaustedly lament
that we have learned nothing
(absolutely nothing)
from this plague
but if you would just calm down
and think rationally
you will recognize
that slowly but surely
from this plague
we are learning
the letters of the Greek alphabet.


There are some
who say
the latest variant
is not as bad
as we originally feared.

And there are some
who say
it is still too early
still much too early
to know that for sure.

But greater than
these somes
are the many
who act as though
the pandemic is over.


There are days
when I put on my mask
look at my reflection
and think to myself
I am the dam.

there are days
when having put on my mask
I look at those around me
and think to myself
we are damned.


This window looks out
at my neighbor’s yard
where they have erected
a red and green sign
wreathed in white lights
bearing the word
in capital letters.

With its bright defiance
against the dark
the glowing placard
has convinced me
that I must find
a different window to stare out.


In the days of panic
you could not find
toilet paper
and all that remained
on the market’s shelves
were boxes of rice pasta.

Now the quantities of canned goods
cereal boxes and egg cartons
attest to our calm state
just do not bother asking
if they have at-home tests in stock.


If I could go back
to warn myself
of the coming plague
I would not bother
with specifics
there is nothing
I could have known then
that would have prevented this.

If I could go back
to warn myself
of the coming plague
all I would tell myself
is to buy a more comfortable chair.


I am ready
to receive
a booster shot
to cancel
my holiday plans
and to endure
another winter
of plague.

For all those things
I am ready.

But seeing as
you wrote
to ask
I will admit
that no
I am not ready
for my student loan payments
to resume.


In the before times
I delighted in canceled events
no disappointment
for the called off gathering
could equal the gift
of being allowed
to just stay home.

And though I do not lament
the canceled office party
the delight
is just staying home
is now so much less
than it once was.


Prepare yourself
for the moment
in the coming week
when a headline will inform you
that here, in this exceptional land
the plague has claimed
its eight hundred thousandth life.

There will be a headline
but you will mist it
unless you watch for it
grim milestones
no longer shock.


Like sports commentators
they talk about
delta and omicron
as if the variants
were rival sprinters
pounding down the track
towards the finish line,
they squabble
over which variant will win
for they have accepted
that containment efforts
are not even in the running.


I would like to participate
really, I would
so I have gone through
all my pictures
searching for images
of myself
“not knowing what was coming.”

I have found photos
of someone I clearly resemble
but I do not recognize them.

These pictures
are of someone else.

Someone who is gone.


It was
the unthinkable
until it became
the only thing
about which we could think
but after dwelling on it
for mornings noons and nights
boredom replaced distress
and deemed no longer deserving
of any thought at all
what was once
the unthinkable
became the commonplace.



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

One comment on “Plague Poems – The Ninety-First Week

  1. Pingback: Plague Poems – The Ninetieth Week | LibrarianShipwreck

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