"More than machinery, we need humanity."

Plague Poems – The Ninety-Second Week

It was this week
two years ago
when we started to see stories
ominous stories
about a virus spreading
but we did not worry
for it was happening
over there.

This week
two years from now
will be remembered
as being when we passed
eight hundred thousand deaths
over here.


Some outlets say
eight hundred thousand
have died.

Others argue
such declarations
are premature
they insist that milestone
will not be passed
until later
this week.

Studies argue
we have been
undercounting deaths.

And according to a man
who approached me
at the store
my mask is unnecessary.


eight hundred thousand
once seemed impossible
one million
now seems inevitable.


When you see these words


just for a moment

as a nation
we will not pause
(even for a second)
to acknowledge
that eight hundred thousand
of our neighbors
have been claimed by the plague

but even if we will not
you can still do so

at least someone should.


Editorial Note: This is a collection of Plague Poems written between December 11, 2021 and December 17, 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.


It was yesterday
when here
in this exceptional land
we learned that the plague
had claimed
its eight hundred thousandth life
and today
is just another Tuesday.


Keep up
you cannot live in yesterday
if you stop to mourn
the plague will not stop with you
by the time you cry out
in desperation and grief
at eight hundred thousand deaths
your exceptional land
will already be well on its way
to nine hundred thousand deaths.


How difficult it is
to read the writing on the wall
when you are too busy
scrolling through doom
to bother looking up.


We still discuss
the albums we are listening to
the projects we are working on
the shows we are watching
but when we speak
he no longer bothers
asking how I am holding up
were he to ask
I would just change the subject
he once knew
how to read my silences
perhaps he still can.


A nation
that will not change course
that will not even pause
after eight hundred thousand deaths
is precisely the sort
of nation
that will not change course
that will not even pause
to prevent reaching
nine hundred thousand deaths.


A catchy song
has the power to make
boring work bearable
just as a familiar chorus
can diminish the tension
in an anxious space
but whoever it is
who chose the music
for this testing location
probably should not have put
“It’s the end of the world
as we know it”
on the playlist.


They say
that if the virus
catches you
it can make you lose
your sense of taste and
your ability to smell
but even if you manage
to safely avoid
being caught by the virus
it can still make you lose
your sense of time and
your ability to hope.


Of course you feel
worse now
than you did at this moment
a year ago
your past self
did not know
what was coming
but the present you
knows only too well.


We canceled
our plans
last year.

We have canceled
our plans
for this year.

We are too wary
to even think
about plans
for next year.

But with luck
we can be together
for the holidays
in 2023.


As a child
my sister buried me
in the beach’s sand
laughing she ran away
leaving me
to stare at the water
when I could no longer hear her
panic choked my cries
I was helplessly immobilized
and the waves were coming in.

I had forgotten
how that fear felt
but now I remember.


It was difficult enough
to wait
when we believed
salvation awaited us
if only we could be patient
for two (or three) more months.

How much more difficult it is
to be patient
when you have stopped believing
that salvation is coming
and all that remains
for you to do
is wait.


I have read the articles
arguing that this country
is not ready for Omicron.

And I have read the articles
carefully presenting
the good news about Omicron.

I have even read the articles
saying do not be surprised
when you get Omicron.

In the mirror I read
my utter exhaustion.


much is being asked of you
so forgive me
this simple request
but please
do not joke
that it’s about time to get COVID
the virus will not hear you
but those in mourning will.


If you are wondering
it feels like everything
is just getting worse
it is because everything
is just getting worse.


My friend in the city
sent me a picture of the line
at the testing site
it encircles the entire building
he has been waiting for hours
but it’s not that bad
he has brought a book to read
and though he is standing outside
thanks to the other crisis
it is sixty degrees in December.


Where once
we believed
that no virus
could defeat us
we can now
scarcely muster
the energy necessary
to do anything
but surrender.



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-Second Week

  1. Pingback: Plague Poems – The Ninety-First Week | LibrarianShipwreck

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