"More than machinery, we need humanity."

Plague Poems – The Hundred-and-Sixth Week

It is very challenging
to see it coming
when you have tied a blindfold
tightly over your eyes.


As long as you’re up to it
(seeing as the weather is so nice)
go walk around your neighborhood
visit the shops
the ones you’ve been avoiding
get yourself a new book
pick up some pet food
perhaps some fresh bread
make the most of these days
these precious days
between waves.


Every spring since I was a child
it has been the same
stuffy nose scratchy eyes
mental fog labored breathing
since I was a child
the same bothersome allergies
how much simpler it was
to handle these symptoms
when I did not have to worry
if they were from allergies
or the plague.


We’re waiting
waiting for it to get worse
waiting for it to get worse

We’ll stop waiting
stop waiting when it gets worse
stop waiting when it gets worse

And when it gets better
we’ll go back to waiting
waiting for it to get worse
waiting for it to get worse


Editorial Note: This is a collection of Plague Poems written between March 19, 2022 and March 25, 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.


When hostile aliens arrive
in science fiction
humanity unites
from a shared danger
emerges a shared sense of fate
science fiction must now discard
this narrative trope
for the pandemic has taught us
that what is unbelievable
is not the idea of aliens
but of humanity uniting.


They have found
in the cold beneath the waves
the sunken hull of Shackleton’s ship
The Endurance
yes, the ship sank
but the ship’s crew survived.

Of course we
are in a very different boat
our endurance
is steadily sinking
in the cold beneath the waves
but we will not all survive.


It doesn’t take much
for shelves to empty
that which was once plentiful
can quickly become scarce
a factory gets quarantined there
and you’ll feel it eventually here
supply chains rust easily
take some comfort in knowing
that you are not
the only fragile thing in the world.


After a disaster ends
a fill will be made
in which the suffering
is but the background
for a story about love
you have seen such films before
ships sink love endures
if you keep the suffering
in the background
people will exit the theater
weeping for the lovers
not the disaster.


Your exhaustion
is completely understandable
you had been promised
that the previous wave
would be the last one
and yet now they tell you
to prepare for yet another wave
your exhaustion
is completely understandable
but do not despair
this new wave
is certain to be the last.


Give us your tired
give us your poor
give us your huddled masses
the ones yearning to breathe free
yes, give them to us
and will give to them
the plague.


In the old normal
we believe that
calamity should strike
we would get through it

In the new normal
we understand that
calamity does strike
we are all of us
on our own.


Reasonable people can disagree
in a complex world
it is ridiculous hubris
to believe that you alone
know what is best
there are multiple solutions
there are plenty of options
reasonable people can disagree
but to dare suggest
that we could do more
well that, is just unreasonable.


This is not what you ordered
though not thrilled
with the choices on the menu
you had made your selection
waited patiently for it to arrive
and now this is placed before you
your outrage is understandable
unfortunately you cannot
send the plague back to the kitchen.


We have to weigh tradeoffs
everyone understand this
it is the way of the world
just hope that your life
isn’t one of those
that gets traded off.


it is not enough
for them
that you have taken off your mask
they also expect
you to smile.


When they asked us
to avoid large gatherings
to wear masks
to work from home
to do our part
some of us were doubtful
about just how much of a difference
we as individuals could make
though in retrospect
how comforting it was
to be told there was something
we could do to help.


I do not mean
to suggest you are self-centered
but you really must stop
thinking only of yourself
you will achieve nothing
by convincing yourself
that you just need
to snap out of it
I regret to inform you of this
but a pandemic
is not the sort of thing
you can just snap out of.


There are some who claim
that [something]
is on the verge of collapse
while there are others who claim
that [something else]
is on the verge of collapse
and still there are others who claim
that [yet another something else]
is on the verge of collapse
I fear they may all be right.


We’re sticking
with what we’re good at
by this point we know
what we do not do well
so we shall focus on the areas
where we genuinely excel
it’s clear that we are not
particularly good
at fighting the pandemic
but pretending everything is fine
now that
is something we’re good at.


When I look back
at the early days and weeks
of the plague
I do not miss the fear
the uncertainty or the panic
those were terrible times
I do not wish to romanticize them
yet I will confess that I miss
how in the early days and weeks
of the plague
you were permitted
to be worried.



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-Sixth Week

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

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