"More than machinery, we need humanity."

Plague Poems – The Ninety-Fifth Week

Let us hope
that in this new year
we will not need
to learn any more
letters of the Greek alphabet.


There was the colleague
then the casual acquaintance
then the uncle of a friend
a smattering of others
I knew not too many
who fell ill
in the first two years.

on the first day of the new year
my mother called to say
a great aunt
an uncle
and four cousins
were all infected.


It is too early
still much too early
it has not even been a week
it is ridiculous to conclude
that you have already failed
in sticking with
your resolution for the new year
I recognize this
yet (nevertheless) I will admit
I am failing at my resolution
to spend less time worrying.


If you are wondering
why the start of this year
feels so much worse
than the start of last year
know that it is because
a year ago at this time
you still had hope.


Editorial Note: This is a collection of Plague Poems written between January 1, 2022 and January 7, 2022.

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.


She left me
(well, to be more precise)
she left the apartment
vacation is over, the campus
requires her presence
she has a mask, of course,
(one of the good ones)
I know that she has plenty
of work waiting for her there
I just pray that work
is the only thing awaiting her there.


After many months
of tireless effort
we have finally succeeded
in flattening the curve
we have flattened it
against the y-axis.


do not give up
the economy
still needs you.


If they call you
in a panic
there is only so much you can do
your expertise may be limited
your experience not pertinent
your exterior of calm
may just be a well-maintained facade
if they call you
in a panic
there is much you cannot do
though at the very least
you can listen.


Do not forget
there was a time when
a hundred thousand deaths
was an incalculable loss
there was a time when
three hundred thousand deaths
was a worst case scenario
there was a time when
no one would have believed you
had you dared to suggest
the pandemic would last this long.


In times like these
must be made
pray that you
are not one of them.


It is not
that the plague
has won
but that our society
has surrendered to it.


As each day ends
I tell myself
I shall be less distracted
I shall be less tired
I shall be less anxious
tomorrow I will finish
these tasks that are piling up
this I tell myself
as though the source
of my tired distracted anxiety
will not still be there


Across from me
in the laundromat, an old man
pulls down his cloth mask
to cough and cough
into a crumpled tissue
that he tosses on the floor
according to the dryer’s timer
my clothes will not be ready
for another twenty-three minutes.


We are all of us
sick and tired
so very sick and tired
of this pandemic
yes, we are all of us
sick and tired
but many of us
are still becoming


To stay safe
they say all you need to do is
be fully vaccinated
wear a proper mask
make sure the space
is sufficiently ventilated
keep a respectful distance
surround yourself
only with those
taking the same precautions
and live in a society
that has not surrendered
to the plague.


Earnest though
your question may be
that you must ask
we shall learn anything
anything at all from this
suggests that you
already know
the answer.


At first
the sight
of maskless faces
left me

And then
the sight
of maskless faces
left me

And now
the sight
of maskless faces
just leaves me


Though it is true
that the pandemic has meant
I have not been buying
cups of coffee
I have been quite unable
to save or invest those funds
for now I must buy
disposable masks and test-kits
which are more expensive
than the occasional cup of coffee.


If you can afford to
now is the time
to stock up
on some extra groceries.

If you can afford to
now is the time
to order more
masks and test kits.

If you can afford to
now is the time
to stay home
and work from there.

This pandemic
is horrid
but you can handle it
if you can afford to.


Try not to read
too much into it
your superstitions
will only make your head ache
so it made a rotten impression
in its first week
there are fifty-one more to go
do not give up on the year
so quickly
there is no reason to believe
it will stay this bad
it may become
even worse.



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-Fifth Week

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

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