LibrarianShipwreck

"More than machinery, we need humanity."

Plague Poems – The Hundred-and-Twenty-Eighth Week

When we speak of the plague
we dream about
the before
and we fantasize about
the after
so that we do not have to consider
that we are still mired
in the during.

*

I am not scared
of the maskless man
in the freezer aisle.

The coughing woman
in line at the pharmacy
does not fill me with fear.

I feel no terror
from yet another change
in government guidance.

It is not
that this world frightens
but that it disappoints.

*

What makes disaster movies
so very unrealistic
is that they end
after just a couple of hours.

*

Find a moment
to call your parents
difficult though it may be
listen to them
hear the rhythm of their voices
speak to them the words
you have always meant to tell them
but somehow never say
and as long as you have them
you might as well ask
if you were vaccinated against polio.

*

Editorial Note: This is a collection of Plague Poems written between August 20, 2022 and August 26, 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.

*

The sooner
we get back to normal
the better it will be
it is completely unsustainable
this aberrant state
in which too many still act
like we should help one another.

*

We must all decide
the risks we are willing to take
for the gourmand the restaurant
for the dancer the nightclub
for the fan the movie theater
for the athlete the gymnasium
but let’s be honest
these staff meetings
really aren’t worth the risk.

*

When I ask my friend
the professor
how her first day of class went
she replies that two students
had emailed in advance
to say they would not be there
as they had tested positive
several students were coughing
and almost all were maskless
but other than that
it was fine.

*

Try not to obsess
over what your parents
had achieved
by the time they were
your current age
so what they owned a house
so what they had children
so what they were debt free
keep things in perspective
when they were your current age
your parents were not
enduring a pandemic.

*

We cannot eliminate all risk.
Yes, of course,
we all know
we cannot eliminate all risk.
I only wish
you were not so cavalier
about eliminating
the at risk among us.

*

If you are unsure
of the mask policy
wherever you are
simply put one on your face
and within moments
a dozen helpful people
will descend on you
to inform you that
masks are optional.

*

If you would only look
for positive developments
you would find them
for instance
we no longer need
to devote so many resources
to contact tracing
after all, at this point
you could have contracted the virus
from almost anyone.

*

When times were wretched
my father always liked
to quote the old canard
that adversity builds character
though I must say
at this point I think I have
built sufficient character.

*

Contrary
to what you may have heard
when you run errands
you will still see plenty of masks
they cover the parking lot gravel
they litter the sidewalks
they blow about in the wind
masks are everywhere you look
except on people’s faces.

*

I have consulted several maps
and confirmed
that the area where I live
is not called fear
(though I did discover
that there is a Cape Fear
in North Carolina)
what a relief to have confirmation
that I am not living in fear
just in a place with
high community transmission levels.

*

You keep saying
that you are done
with the pandemic
unfortunately it seems
that the pandemic
does not really care what
you keep saying.

*

I do not know
if the ability
to endure suffering
is a laudable virtue
though I am fairly certain
that wishing for others
to endure suffering
is a grotesque vice.

*

In the end
there is only so much
I can really do
to help you with your struggles
my resources are few
my power is limited
and I have problems of my own
but even if I cannot do much
to actually ease your pain
please just know
I do not think you deserve
to suffer.

*

At your interview
when they ask you about
the pandemic:
do not say you struggled
say you learned perseverance,
do not say you stared at screens
say you mastered new technology,
do not say you fell ill
but ask about sick days,
do not say you mourned
just try to smile politely.

*

The tools
of which they speak
are far more real
than thoughts and prayers
though when they say
we have all the tools we need
what they are offering you
are thoughts and prayers.

*

And though it may feel crass
to grieve over it
when there are so many
standing graveside
you should allow yourself
to mourn
the future the plague stole from you.

*

When the pandemic began
I told myself
that merely surviving the virus
would not be sufficient
I had to treat this as an opportunity
to strengthen my mind and body
in at least one respect
I have certainly improved
for I now appreciate
just how much work
merely surviving entails.

*

*

Plague Poems…the following 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 librarianshipwreck.wordpress.com @libshipwreck

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

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

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