"More than machinery, we need humanity."

Plague Poems – The Hundred-and-Fifth Week

For you who dwell
in cities far from the ocean
it is pointless
to worry about sharks.

For you who avoid
venturing into the woods
there is no need
to be scared of bears.

But for you who live
during the plague times
there is nothing irrational
about being wary of the virus.


Listen to me
you really have to move on
stop obsessing over your ex
forget that missed opportunity
don’t replay that old argument
enough wondering about “what if”
move on from the past
be here in the present moment
focus your sights on the now
in which the plague continues.


Be grateful
that they’re allowing you
to order more test kits
something is better than nothing
especially once you’ve become
accustomed to nothing
so order your test kits
but don’t get used to this generosity
(haven’t you seen the news?)
after this you’re on your own.


When I look back now
at the plague’s early days
I do not miss the uncertainty
the pharmacy’s empty shelves
or the panic in people’s eyes
though I will admit
I do quite miss
believing that it would not last long
and the idea that we
would get through it together.


Editorial Note: This is a collection of Plague Poems written between March 12, 2022 and March 18, 2022. This compendium marks the official shift into the third year in which these poems have been written.

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.


You need not be a mystic
trained in arcane arts
able to read portents
in stars and bones and cards
to know what is coming
such wisdom is not hidden
it requires only that you look back
and see that each time
after it has gotten worse
over there
it eventually gets worse
over here.


We scoffed at the celebrities
when they serenaded us
with their off-key rendition
of Imagine
but those were simpler times
before “imagine there’s no virus”
became a national policy.


Please stop asking
if there is anyone out there
anyone at all
who has managed not
to get the virus
I know that you mean well
but the plague doesn’t need help
picking targets.


Our leaders have given up
on trying to address
the worsening climate
and the evolving virus
but do not despair
for they have come together
to protect us
from having to change our clocks.


Do not forget
to update your language
yesterday’s numbers
only diminish the present
two years of pandemic
are already behind us
we are speaking now
of and in
the third year of plague.


Over time
immunity wains
empathy wains
over time
as well.


Open your refrigerator
push the takeout containers
jars of pasta sauce and condiments
out of the way
retrieve the sourdough starter
that you have forgotten
from its spot behind the old rice
and patiently coax it back to life
there is so much death
try to keep something alive.


Historians are a cautious lot
they know better
than to call an event historic
simply because it seems significant
while it is happening
historians know
even headline tragedies
get lost in the archive
but for what it’s worth
know that in this moment
historians are overwhelmed too.


Before celebrating
over how you can now see
the last peak
in your rear view mirror
remember that the small text says
“objects in mirror
are closer than they appear”
and besides
you are currently driving
towards more mountains.


There is plenty of money
to keep you safe
all those funds for bombs
and planes and bullets and
drones and missiles
(haven’t you heard?)
it is to protect you
from this dangerous world
in which you live
yes, there is plenty of money
to keep you safe
just not safe from this virus.


In the first year
of the plague
I was frightened.

Then in the second year
of the plague
I was frustrated.

Now in the third year
of the plague
I am just tired.

By the fourth year
of the plague
there will be nothing
left of me.


Justifying your
suffering today
so that you might
prosper tomorrow
becomes much harder
to rationalize
when you no longer believe
in tomorrow.


According to an article
in a reputable scientific publication
the virus may alter the brain
and though this finding
is certainly very worrisome
it is not enough
to make us change our minds
about abandoning precautions.


Let us be honest
there has been learning loss
and mental health issues
workers have lost jobs
lives have been upended
lives have been lost
there’s no denying this
but please stop acting shocked
that disruptions have occurred
by now you should know
a pandemic is not a dinner party.


Is there a prayer to say
for the alarmists?
Yes, there is a prayer to say
for the alarmists.
May the Lord bless
and keep the alarmists
from being right.


Some claim
that there are only two kinds
of stories:
comedies and tragedies.
In comedies the heroes wed
life’s continuity triumphs.
In tragedies the heroes perish
inevitable death conquers.

I am sorry, my friends,
but I fear that this story
in which we are living
is a tragedy.


no one but yourself
is capable of judging you
from what you have done
or have not done
during these two years of plague
skills learned or forgotten
tasks finished or abandoned
steps taken forward or back
after two years of plague
you endure
that is accomplishment enough.



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-Fifth Week

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

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