"More than machinery, we need humanity."

Plague Poems – The Hundred-and-Twelfth Week

If you have forgotten
how to make small talk
here is a reminder:
instead of speaking of the plague
comment on the weather,
rather than talk of variants
mention local sports,
make no reference to masks
but allude to summer fashion,
the key is to converse
like everything is fine.


It is not the case
that the plague refuses
to attend black tie soirees
but that the people
who attend black tie soirees
are confident they have the means
to survive the plague.


My friend
who is a doctor
told me a joke:

What do you call
a public health response
without a public
without health
and without a response? I

I said, I did not know.

So my friend
who is a doctor answered:
What we are doing.

Neither one of us laughed.


This room
is reasonably comfortable
this apartment
is big enough for me
this block
is relatively quiet
this neighborhood
contains a small park
this city
is better than people think
so when you hear me say
that I wish
I was somewhere else
know that I mean
not living in a pandemic.


Editorial Note: This is a collection of Plague Poems written between April 29, 2022 and May 5, 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.


all of this
and still
the plague
as well.


How many more
of the wretched things
that you were always told
that you always believed
could not happen here
need to happen here
before you realize
that you are not safe here.


I confess:
I am beginning
to lose track
of how many times
the world
as we knew it
has ended
in the last few years.


After three years
of plague
you really should have learned
that this world
really can
keep getting worse.


Forgive me
it is not my intent
to minimize the severity
of this moment
but I cannot help but think
that the plague
is the least of our problems.


Revise your assessment
where once it was sensible
to be shocked (shocked)
at how terribly
the pandemic has gone
you must now update your thinking
consider all that has happened
do not be shocked (shocked)
at how terribly
the pandemic has gone
be shocked
that it hasn’t gone worse.


You cannot just stay inside
not at a moment like this
you must get out
you must take to the streets
but do not go unprepared
bring your fury
bring your despair
bring your hope
bring your sorrow
and since you are already
bringing so much
you might as well
bring a mask with you.


There are some who accuse
our leaders of giving up
on defending our rights
just as they had
previously given up
on defending us from the plague.

But this gets the order
all wrong.

You must understand
our leaders gave up
on defending our rights
long before the pandemic.


There are no words
but there are
more than a million names.


We cannot stop
to mourn
the passing of a million lives
for we are too busy
over the death of the world
we thought we knew.


Be careful
with your forecasting
it is impossible
to truly know
how bad it will get.

Have some more humility
with your predictions
do not be so quick
do not be so certain
you have been wrong before.

Do not be so sure
about how bad it will get
in all likelihood
it will be worse.


Please stop
take a moment
(just a few seconds)
and commit today to memory
where did you go?
who did you see?
what did you do?
how did you feel?
it is not every day
that a death toll passes
one million
so you really should take a moment
to commit this day to memory.


You know what they say
if it ain’t broke
don’t fix it
and if it is broke
just pretend that it ain’t.


They say,
get used to death
stop fixating on the plague’s toll
just because the news counts it,
cancer and car crashes
heart disease and liver failure
do you know ho many die
each day from those? You do not.

They say,
get used to death
after all
you’re already used to it.


At first
it was easy to blame
the lethargic feelings
on the plague
the days spent inside
the diet of rubbish
the unfinished tasks
the lapsed communication
it was the plague’s fault
everyone understood that
at least they understood that
at first.


Is there a word
for a warning
that is not heeded?

Yes, there is a word
for a warning
that is not heeded.

The word
for a warning
that is not heeded
is “history.”



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-Twelfth Week

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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Ne'er do wells



Creative Commons License


%d bloggers like this: