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Plague Poems – The Hundred-and-Sixteenth Week

Do not believe
that we are exactly where we were
a year ago
that idea is ludicrous
compared to last year
cases are now five times higher
and of course
compared to last year
we have stopped paying attention
so we are not exactly where we were
a year ago
we are somewhere worse.

*

Perhaps in some distant future
a day shall be named
for remembering the victims
of this horrendous plague
a solemn day of contemplation
that shall be observed
with sales on tires and beachwear.

*

Stop saying
in a normal world
this would not happen
we are loathe to admit it
but these weekly tragedies
are distressingly normal
it is easier to imagine
the next calamity
than to imagine it
being prevented.

We already have
a normal world
what we need
is a better one.

*

Moments of silence
do not last very long
the flags at half-mast
are run back up the pole
wreaths and bouquets
wilt surprisingly quickly
the mournful displays
do not last
but the grief endures.

*

Editorial Note: This is a collection of Plague Poems written between May 28, 2022 and June 3, 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.

*

Whoever was responsible
for assigning names
made a serious mistake
when looking at the Greek alphabet
it was wrong to call this
Omicron
they should have named it
Pi
for it certainly seems
to go on forever.

*

After so many moths
of being exposed
to conflicting guidance
and mild assurances
we have finally achieved
heard immunity
wherein we are at last immune
not to the virus itself
but to caring about it.

*

If you should fall ill
do not fret
just go and speak
with your physician
and if you do not
have one to speak to
or cannot afford
to speak to one
well in that case
you can always pray.

*

We are where we were
a week ago
sitting in the same chairs
starting at the same screens
living with the same crises
trying as best we can
to maintain our grasp
on hope
though we have even less of it
than that paltry amount we had
a week ago.

*

It was not the masks
or social distancing
that made the early days
of the plague abnormal.

It was the belief
that faced with calamity
things would change
for the better
that made those days strange.

But now we feel
that change is impossible
so clearly life
is back to normal.

*

There’s no rush
take the time you need,
wait to regain your composure
until you are ready,
this isn’t about moving on
just being able to move ahead,
really, there’s no hurry
the plague is patient,
it will still be here
whenever you can bring yourself
to remember its presence.

*

Packing for a trip
is not so different
from how it was before
you still must consider
how many shirts
how many undergarments
how many books
and which toiletries to bring
though now when you pack
you must also remember
to bring enough masks.

*

Do not keep your wisdom
to yourself
or bother saving it for a later date
this is not a stable world
your assessment of it
will age not like expensive wine
but like a week old banana
share your thoughts in the moment
by this time next week
they’ll seem naively optimistic.

*

Every night
from seven until ten
my neighbors’ newborn
screams
when I see them outside
through their exhaustion
they apologize
it is not a problem I assure them
I empathize completely
for I too
would like to scream every night.

*

If you don’t look for it
how easy it is
not to see the plague
the headlines have shifted
to other tragedies
the graphs and maps
need to be sought out
masked faces
are an increasingly rare sight
how easy it is
not to see the plague
though wherever you go
you hear so much coughing.

*

When they had to cancel
the plans they had made
as a result of their dog falling ill
they felt it was a nice change
from having to cancel their plans
as a result of the pandemic.

*

Keep your cynicism to yourself
hard-earned and justified
though it may be
amidst halcyon indifference
a cry of despair may provide
a necessary disruption
but that same cry
hard-earned and justified
though it may be
is just gratuitous in a graveyard.

*

I confess
while I often enjoy
a society in the throes
of collapse
as the setting for
a novel or a film
I do not enjoy it
(no, not in the least)
as the setting for my life.

*

Thanks to the wonders
of automation
a website promises
that with a few buttons
you can ensure you never run out
of toilet paper and coffee beans
cat littler and double-a batteries
however they will not allow you
to sign up for a mask subscription
for you go through those too fast.

*

The me that was
has not survived
the pandemic
they are gone
they are no more
they have been replaced
by this mournful doppelganger
that wears my old clothes
and slouches through my routines
as it tries to survive
the pandemic.

*

Stop telling yourself
that you’ll get around to it
that you’ll get back to it
“after the pandemic”
you might as well
just take care of it now
it will be satisfying
to complete something
to complete anything
and by now you must realize
“after the pandemic”
might never happen.

*

A reel of film
a bundle of sticks
a crash of rhinos
a library of books
a parliament of owls
a cog of robots
a garland of sonnets
a colony of badgers
a quiver of arrows
a chest of drawers
but the collective noun
we most need to know
is the one that denotes
multiple tragedies.

*

*

Plague Poems…the following week

Plague Poems…the first week

Plague Poems…the full list

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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 librarianshipwreck.wordpress.com @libshipwreck

One comment on “Plague Poems – The Hundred-and-Sixteenth Week

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

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