"More than machinery, we need humanity."

Plague Poems – The Ninety-Seventh Week

We blame the virus for
the disastrous condition
of our schools
the catastrophic state
of our hospitals
the ruinous structure
of our workplaces
the collapsing authority
of our institutions
so we need not acknowledge
the virus is not cause
but revealer
of our society’s frailty.


When snow fills the air
we stand at our windows
watching the white flakes
and for our safety’s sake decide
that we had better stay inside.

When plague fills the air
we stand in the bathroom
readying our appearance
and for our finance’s sake decide
that we had better go to work.


With sharp enough scissors
and thick enough paste
the past can be mutilated
then stuck back together
in any shape desired
symbols can be reshaped
quotes can be trimmed
the crude reconstruction
of the past
presents a deceptive facsimilie
of having learned
from history.


There is so much data
too many graphs
stacks of reports and studies
without proper expertise
they can be very challenging
to fully comprehend
someone else (not me)
mus truly understand them
but I will admit
when I look at the numbers
I cannot tell which deaths
were the mild ones.


Editorial Note: This is a collection of Plague Poems written between January 15, 2022 and January 22, 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.


If you find yourself
reminded of the plague by
the empty shelves
in the supermarket
the vacant seats
int he classroom
the closed sign
in the shop window
consider yourself lucky
how fortunate you are
not to be remind
of the plague
by the memory of one
you have lost.


A virus’s reign
may be cruel
but a virus is not

A virus’s grasp
may be unjust
but a virus is not

A virus’s stance
may be uncaring
but a virus is not

A virus’s toll
may be inhuman
for of course
a virus is not
we however
have no such excuse.


Have sympathy for the mouse
whose tail hangs limply
from the cat’s jaw
they say it is natural
for cats to kill mice
but find sympathy
for the terrified squeaks that cry out
a lament against larger forces
especially in this moment
when you are caught
in the jaws of the plague.


Graciously accept
their offered assistance
your utopian dreams
were never going to come in the mail
by now you should have learned
not to expect enough
just be grateful
you are getting something
remember to say thank you
otherwise next time
you will not receive anything at all.


Future historians
will have no shortage
of primary sources
to explain how this pandemic
lasted so long and so horribly
they will have so many
television appearances
and social media posts
to draw upon
try your best
not to give them
more material.


For we
who are mortal
sickness sorrow and death
are inevitable
contracting this plague
in this moment
is a choice
though that choice was made
by one other than you.


It already feels like
just goes on and on
but let us pray
that we do not encounter
the next letter
of the Greek alphabet
if memory serves
never ends.


Let your friends have
their rows of colored boxes
they find comfort in
the line of green that annoys you,
shows conclude
sourdough starter dies
workout crazes end
new distractions are needed
waste not your frustration
on fads for coping
the colored boxes won’t last
but the plague will.


In order for that
which was once
to become normal
all that is required
is to convince enough people
that they have no choice
but to live with it.


When first it occurred
thousands of lives
being claimed by the plague
in a single day
was shocking
but that was long ago
it has happened again
on so many days
therefore it is no wonder
that few notice now when
thousands of lives
are being claimed by the plague
in a single day.


There seems to be
a great deal of confusion
good manners dictate
that you should not
speak ill
of the dead
not that you should refrain
from speaking
of the dead
who were felled by illness.


In my youth
I often played a game
a game which taught me
that intelligence
and wisdom
are not the same thign
this is a lesson
that so many of the intelligent
even now lack the wisdom
to truly understand.


The sight
of a partially covered face
may remind that something
is still off
beyond this, however, life
is back to the way it once was
for what is more normal
than people in this society
not giving a damn
about anyone else?


That which made
the pandemic abnormal
was not
the temporary closures
working from home
online education
masks while shopping
or other brief disruptions
but that for a moemnt
we acted as though
we owed each other something.


Disaster movies
should not last too long
contemporary audiences
have short attention spans
the heroes should save the day
within ninety minutes
two hours max
anything more is too much
the spectacle of death
gets old fast
someone please
tell this to the director
of the pandemic.


What will come
after the plague times?
Will it be as it was before?
No. It will never again
(can never again)
be as it was before.

After the plague times
will come new times,
new times during which
we shall strive
to forget
that we ever lived
during the plague times.



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-Seventh Week

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

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