"More than machinery, we need humanity."

Plague Poems – The Hundred-and-Third Week

It is inaccurate to say
that after the pandemic
came the war
for the pandemic has not ended
it is more accurate to say
during the pandemic
a war as well.


My expertise is limited
but there must be a better way
to fight global warming
than with a nuclear winter.


Though I have heard
that we have nothing to fear
but fear itself
I must confess
that when I look
at the world around me
I find that in addition
to fear itself
there are plenty of other things
to fear.


You need to listen
to the CDC’s new guidance
the CDC’s new guidance says:
you are on your own.


Editorial Note: This is a collection of Plague Poems written between February 28, 2022 and March 4, 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.


Contrary to what
you may have heard
the world (as we know it) ends
not with a band
and not with a whimper
but with endless chattering.


According to an article
my brother-in-law sent me
this pandemic
is part of a massive conspiracy.

The proof is everywhere!
(if you are willing to look)

How comforting it must be
to believe that this
is the result of a master plan
and not the consequence
of a failure to plan.


After two years of plague
you should have learned
how disastrously foolish it is
to believe
that what is happening
over there
need not concern you
over here.


The state
of our union
is plagued
by this virus
and still afflicted
by the sicknesses
that plagued us
from before the virus.


Let the suggestion
that wearing a mask
is akin to bearing a scarlet letter
remind you
of how it is not only the case
that we fail to learn
from history
but that we also fail to understand
works of literature.


I have heard it claimed
that once the hubbub dies down
we shall all realize
that this virus
is really just the common cold
though I cannot recall
there being a year in which
one hundred and twenty thousand
lives were taken
by the common cold
in the year’s first two months.

When the pandemic began
we were told
to start wearing masks
basic disposable masks.

As the pandemic dragged on
we were told
to stock up on test kits
simple disposable test kits.

Now as we seek to move on
we are told
not to think of those at risk
as though they are
disposable people.


Masks are not comfortable
they chafe against your lips
they tug at your ears
they flatten your nose
they muffle your voice
yet the most discomforting thing
about these masks
is that the sight of them
is a reminder
that the pandemic has not ended.


Buckets only last so long
they are not immune
to age and events
that which could once hold much
becomes riddled with cracks
becomes pockmarked with holes
until the contents leak out
creating a mess
so have sympathy for the old bucket
for it understands
what you are going through.


According to the experts
in order to protect yourself
from the virus
you no longer need
to wear a mask
so that it covers
your mouth and nose
remove it from over your lips
and instead place it
over your eyes.


Though you are far too
to genuinely believe
in the existence of
the Four Horsemen
by now you must acknowledge
that their myth
gets at least one thing correct:
apocalyptic events
come in groups.


Lucretius once wrote
of how there is something sweet
in watching a ship sink
from the safety of shore
to behold tragedy
while spared from it.

Through screens not from shore
we safely watch
wrecks and wars and plagues
but to witness while spared
there is only bitter helplessness.


There is a disaster movie
that prepared us for this
no, not the one about an outbreak
or the other one about a contagion
but the one with the shark
in which the mayor
scoffs at the idea of precautions
as closing the beach
would be bad for business.


If you speak
of the pandemic
you will be accused
of ignoring the war.

If you speak
of the war
you will be accused
of ignoring the climate.

If you speak
of the climate
you will be accused
of ignoring the pandemic.

If you speak
you will not be able
to say enough, yet
you must speak.


When you are asked
(and you will be asked)
why it is
that you are still wearing a mask
do not bother arguing
do not say anything at all
instead raise a hand
to your covered mouth
and cough, cough loudly
then give a polite nod
and go about your business.


When the bus is running late
there is solidarity at the bus stop
the wait becomes endurable
as we become
a community
of those who are waiting
but then those with money
call cabs, the healthy ones
decide to walk, and then
to still be waiting
to be waiting alone
becomes unbearable.



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 Hundred-and-Third Week

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

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