"More than machinery, we need humanity."

Plague Poems – The Ninety-Third Week

who find yourselves
unexpectedly ill
after trying so hard
after trying to stay safe
after trying to be responsible
must not view your sickness
as a moral failing
you tried
it is not that you failed
but that your country
failed you.


There is
a slight scratchy feeling
at the back of my throat
but it is so cold in here.

There is
an occasional dry cough
that rattles my body
but it is so dry in here.

It is probably nothing.

there is
an anxious worry
that makes me wonder

what if

what if it is not nothing.


Of course
you are concerned
of course
you are anxious
of course
you are frightened.

get over yourself
please stop being so selfish.

In times like this
we must come together
not as indivdiuals
but as a collective
and commit to doing
what is best
for the economy.


The hospitals
are running out
of beds.

The pharmacies
are running out
of test kits.

The doctors
are running out
of energy.

The people
are running out
of hope.

The plague
is not running out
of victims.


Editorial Note: This is a collection of Plague Poems written between December 18, 2021 and December 24, 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.


Shaking in my arms
I tell them
that it
will be okay
that we
will be okay
and though
I do not
believe me
and though
they do not
believe me
for a moment
we both
(we both need
to pretend)
that it
will be okay.


Sacrifices must be made
we are sorry
you must cancel your plans
it is not safe
for you to gather
with friends and family
right now.

But keep your shoes on
your shift is starting soon
and your workplace
requires your presence.

You must make sacrifices
and be sacrificed as well.


On the television
I heard a man declare
“this is not
March of 2020,
two hundred million people
are vaccinated.
We’re prepared;
we know more.”

it is not March
and those vaccination
figures sound correct,
but though we know more
it is hard to believe
we are prepared.


They were to be married
amongst the flowering trees
but when alarms
silenced the wedding bells
their engagement was prolonged.

After the first third fifth
they said all that mattered
was they had each other.

A week before the ceremony
the bride
has started coughing.


Your decisions
are no only
for you
or for the small we
in which you include yourself
but for the larger us
that annoying group
unwilling membership in which
gives you headaches
many in that us
make their choices
irrespective of you
still remember
you are making decisions
for us.


Contrary to what
the conspiratorial shout at you
the government
about which they angrily speak
does not want you
to live in fear
frightened people
become ascetic hermits
and the government
does not way you
living in fear
it needs you
to keep working and shopping.


I have canceled my plans
no I will not be attending
the office holiday party
I must miss your birthday brunch
my family I will see
and embrace virtually
for I am not going anywhere
do not bother inviting me
I will not attend
my plans are canceled
but I shall be very busy


Today there is
slightly more light
than there was yesterday
and tomorrow there will be
slightly more light
than there is today

and yet

it just keeps getting darker.


The apocalypse
would be easy to handle
forty-eight hours of wretched terror
and then
either rise to build in the new
or become one with the nothing
we could manage that
just as we started realizing
what was happening
it would be over
what we cannot handle
is this slow catastrophe.


I live dangerously

when friends invite me
skydiving, I say no
when acquaintances offer
substances, I decline
presented with the chance
to run with the bulls, I stay home
but confronted with a pandemic
and an empty refrigerator,
I go to the supermarket.

I live dangerously.


My employers says
we will start the new year
after so long
meeting on screens
another two weeks of it
should not be a problem
(after all “you are
all pros at it by now”)
this is temporary
of course it’s temporary
we will be physically together again
by January 24
unless that is
we are not.


Do not bother reflecting
on whether or not
you succeeded in fulfilling
the resolutions
you had set yourself a year ago
the year has not yet ended
and it will take
all the resolve you can muster
just to reach its end.


When you chop vegetables
do it slowly
now is not the time
to be careless with knives.

That task for which you must
ascend the tall ladder
can surely wait
keep your feet on the ground.

Whatever you are doing
try to be cautious
the hospitals
are busy enough without you.


Some letters
are still not reaching
their intended recipients.

Of this I am certain
for when I wrote to him
I was clear
that the only thing
I wanted for Christmas
was for the pandemic
to be over.

I used enough postage
but alas it seems
my letter never reached
the North Pole.


Unlike a dictator
whose grip on power is weak
the plague is unbothered
by defiance:
live your life as you did before,
march maskless in the streets,
purchase fake documents,
spread forbidden news,
the plague will not care.

For it is not the plague
that you are defying.


There were some of us
who tried our best
(given the circumstances)
to be nice.

There were some of us
who were quite eager
(given the circumstances)
to be naughty.

No matter
which camp we fell into
this year
(given the circumstances)
we shall all
be getting coal.


Nothing gave her more joy
than entertaining
an excuse to search cookbooks
for new things to bake
an opportunity to decorate
every wall and surface
a reason to bring together
dear friends and family

it brought her life

to me she recounts memories
of past celebrations
while I prepare
a quiet meal for two.



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-Third Week

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

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