"More than machinery, we need humanity."

Plague Poems – The Hundred-and-Eighteenth Week

I have heard it said
that in life
the only things that are certain
are death
and taxes
that short list of certainties
is quite bad enough
without having
contracting the plague
added to it.


Would it kill you
to wear a mask?
it probably won’t.

Would it kill you
if you caught the virus?
but probably not,
though many seem eager
to find out
for themselves.


It’s time to be realistic
with variants this contagious
a strategy that aims for zero
is just patently ridiculous.

Yes, of course
with variants this contagious
seeking zero percent infected
may be unrealistic
but better to strive for that
than one hundred percent infected.


That you tried your damndest
only to fall ill now
is no reason to feel shame
after so many months
of masks and social distancing
of shots and canceled plans
it is not that you failed
but that your society failed you.


Editorial Note: This is a collection of Plague Poems written between June 11, 2022 and June 17, 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.


Though I will admit
I have heard it so often
that it hardly counts as novel
no matter how many times
I hear from someone
that they have contracted the virus
I refuse to allow myself to believe
that it has to be this way.


I do not know
how effective it truly is
to reuse the same disposable mask
though I will note
I have spent the last months
reusing the same hope
and its utility is certainly waning.


When they told us
that this would be
a hot vax summer
at least they were being honest
about the heat.


If you wish to know
the secret
of how I have avoided infection
(avoided infection so far)
I fear you will be disappointed
for the secret is not mysterious
I simply never went back to living
as if the pandemic was over.


Prepare yourself appropriately
for each season’s hazards
in the fall bring a scarf
in the winter wear a coat
in the spring carry an umbrella
in the summer put on sunscreen
and keep in mind
that the plague season
encompasses the other four
so please
prepare yourself appropriately.


That which is torn
can be mended
though doing so requires time
skill and a decent supply
of thread or tape or glue
as well as a recognition
that the rip needs fixing.

that which has been allowed to tear
can be mended
though it is better
not to let it rip in the first place.


I know it’s been awhile
since last we spoke
it is not that I’ve forgotten you
it is not that I’ve nothing to say
but I lack the energy
to hear you speak of your travels
and then when you ask
what I have been up to
tell you that I’m still
just sitting here in this room.


Given a choice
between an unfortunate tan line
from wearing a mask
and an unfortunate health decline
from contracting the virus
consider that even a bad tan
is unlikely to last much longer
than a couple of weeks.


It may feel as though
you are the only one
still wearing a mask
maintaining social distance
avoiding bars and restaurants
testing when ill
and checking the transmission maps
but take some comfort
in knowing that nobody
is truly alone
for the virus is with us.


After the embarrassment
of being proven repeatedly wrong
they have learned their lesson
no longer do they declare
that the pandemic has ended
if they make such pronouncements
they know they’ll be proven wrong
so regarding the pandemic
they now say nothing at all.


There are prominent figures
who have fallen ill
and are working from home
until they are no longer contagious
let us hope
they recover swiftly.

As for our neighbors
who have fallen ill
and as they lack sick days
are working in person
let us hope
they do not infect us.


Update your fabric references
please do not say
the minimizers and normalizers
pulled the wool over our eyes.
Have you never worn a sweater?
Wool is so very itchy
if we had wool over our eyes
we would feel it.
The minimizers and normalizers
distribute blindfolds
made of velvet.


Let the extreme heat
and the record rainfall
and the mudslides
and the flooding
remind you
that the pandemic
is not the only crisis
we are ignoring.


The distance between
my door and my neighbor’s door
is roughly thirty-six steps
which is not that far
really, not that far at all
it would be possible to walk
from one door to the other
in well under a minute
and yet we remain
a world apart.


Though I miss him
and long for his wisdom
sorrowfully I will admit
that I am glad
my grandfather is not alive
to witness this moment,
for one should not have to live
through the rise of fascism
twice in a single lifetime.


When your friends ask you
what your goals are
for the summer
tell them
of people you would like to visit
of beaches you wish to walk on
of projects you hope to complete
of outfits you are eager to wear
but tell yourself
that if you can just avoid the virus
you will be content.



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-Eighteenth Week

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

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