"More than machinery, we need humanity."

Plague Poems – The Ninety-Fourth Week

Perhaps it was selfish
at the very least
it was naive
but I had really hoped
that just for that day
I would be able
to forget the plague
I had been managing to think
about other things
until a friend called
not to convey holiday wishes
but to say that he
had tested positive.


It might not have been
sitting under the tree
in festive wrapping paper
but be patient
give it a couple of days
and you shall discover
whether or not
one of your loved ones
gifted you with the plague
this holiday season.


Of the many things
I have watched this year
on black or silver screens
none have occupied my attention
so completely
none have made me more anxious
to know the conclusion
than the muted drama
I am currently watching develop
on the small white rectangle
of this at-home test kit.


I tried
to gift them
what they wanted
and so:

To my sister
the journalist
I sent
a new wool sweater.

For my parents
the retirees
I made
a charitable donation.

To my partner
the librarian
I gave
socks and old books.

for my aunt
the physician
I canceled
all of my plans.


Editorial Note: This is a collection of Plague Poems written between December 25, 2021 and December 31, 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.


will get through this.

Yes, of course,
will get through this
but how many
current members of that
will not?


Stop telling everyone
to just stay home
we cannot all heed that advice
some of us don’t have sick days
we must go to work
for if we do not
we will receive no pay
and if we receive no pay
we will not be able to afford
to buy masks and test kits
or save up for our trip
to the hospital.


During the plague times
our trash cans overflow
with single use masks
with takeout containers
with used test kit components
with shipping boxes.

Some have grown
so accustomed
to throwing things away
that they even view
the people working the register
as disposable.


You need to sit
with despair
if you refuse it entry
it will stalk your home
tapping at the windows
instead you must let it in
offer it a comfortable seat
provide it with a cup of tea
allow it to sing to you its dirge
then you can ask it to leave
but first
you need to sit with it.


There is a joke
that every disaster movie
begins with a scientist
being ignored.

But those films are fictional
we know
from the present disaster
that the scientists are ignored
long after the beginning.


An open note to the thief
who stole the package
from my front door
leaving behind
the cardboard box, bubble wrap,
and the packing slip which noted
that the package had contained
two boxes of masks and
five at-home test kits:
I needed those,
but you
probably need them as well.


The schools
must be kept open
lest we deprive the students
of the opportunity
to learn firsthand
how not to manage
a dangerous pandemic.


Normal is a planet
we have left behind
staring back at the blue marble
we tell ourselves
that our vessel is just in orbit
that re-entry will begin momentarily
that soon we will return
to familiar solid ground
this we tell ourselves
as we hurtle deeper
into the darkness of the unknown.


Stop saying
that we
are in denial
look around
and you will see
it is not
that we
are in denial
but that we
are in
the United States.


Had you studied the classics
a bit more attentively
you would understand
that those who mock
are the ones who wind up being
tragically proven wrong.


Find a different word
it should not be difficult
open a thesaurus
look for synonyms
of course it is a fitting word
(that is why it is used) but
with so much happening so quickly
no longer alerts us
it only reminds us of our fragility
and of how much
it is already broken.


you just don’t seem to get it
the frustration you express
makes your misunderstanding clear
for you still seem to think
you still seem to believe
that it is people who rule here
fallible (if persuadable) people.

But people do not rule here
the plague rules here.


to what you have heard
we still have
the freedom to choose
though admittedly
our choices
are rather limited:
we can choose
to shutdown
or we can choose
to let the plague
shut us down.

And deciding
not to choose
still counts
as a choice.


Of the things
I lost this year
most can be lived without.

The missing remote control
the vanished socks
the disappearing book
the job I had worked for years
those things
can be found again
their loss is survivable.

Of the things
I lost this year
the one I miss most
is hope.


When they told us
in the autumn
to brace ourselves for
seven hundred thousand deaths
by the year’s end
they were only underestimating
by a hundred twenty-six thousand
one hundred and fifteen deaths
or so.


Forgive yourself
your shortcomings
so you did not
finish your screenplay
so you did not
workout five days a week
so you did not
become the person
you so desperately want to be
give no more thought
to your broken resolutions
you survived
an entire year of plague
let that suffice.


At the year’s start
you sat in the dark
telling yourself
if you could persevere
a few more months
everything would be

As the year ends
you sit in the dark
how much longer
you can possibly

that though
you sit in the dark
you do not sit there



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-Fourth Week

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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Ne'er do wells



Creative Commons License


%d bloggers like this: