"More than machinery, we need humanity."

Plague Poems – The Hundred-and-Forty-Sixth Week

When you unwrapped holiday gifts
with your family
I hope that you received
exactly what you wanted
and if what you received
was not what you wanted
I hope it was just
a sweater you’ll never wear
or a book you won’t read
and not the plague.


My sister told me a funny story
from Christmas with her in-laws
in their tradition
whoever finds the almond
hidden in the rice pudding
will have a year of good luck,
but this year they forgot
to hide an almond
meaning none of them
will be lucky,
she laughs at this but I do not.


Every year
as we return it to its box
my father recounts the stories
of all the dark times
during which my family’s menorah
has been a source of light
perhaps some day
when I recount those stories
to my own children
I will include the pandemic
amongst the other dark times.


I was not visited
by any ghosts this Christmas
not a single spirit
reminded me of the past
showed me the present
or warned me of the future
indeed the holiday passed
without any spectral visitors
which is rather unfortunate
for I would have been happy
to have some company.


Editorial Note: This is a collection of Plague Poems written between December 24, 2022 and December 30, 2022.

They were initially posted online on Twitter at @plaguepoems, on Mastodon at, and on Instagram at @plague_poems.

Throughout the duration of this crisis new poems will be posted regularly at the above mentioned accounts, they will then be collected and reposted here as weekly compendiums.


That hideous sweater
from your great aunt
can be donated to charity
the unwanted gadget
from your parents
came with a gift receipt
that book you’ve already read
from your sister
can be exchanged for store credit
unfortunately the virus
from an unclear someone
will stay with you.


is such a banal way of saying
that in this moment
we are not even trying
to keep track
of this deadly virus.


Please understand
when this or that calamity
is described as
a once in a lifetime event
the lifetime in question
is not that of a human
but that of a mouse
which is precisely why
you are enduring so very many
once in a lifetime events
in the course of your lifetime.


The year nears its end
but so what
that means almost nothing
a different digit next to a signature
the start of a new month
the predictable churn of seasons
months end seasons end years end
but the pandemic
the pandemic endures.


is such a dramatic way
to describe a person
who is just trying their best
to survive.


If you are wondering
“what it’s like
to wear masks for COVID
when most others
have long since moved on”
it is like heaving
a bucket of water
at a burning building
while all around you
others are throwing
buckets of gas
and all of you are together
in that burning building.


My friends who gathered
with their families for the holiday
have all come back
saying that it went
one or the other way
either half the people
did not come as they were ill
or everyone came
but half the people seemed unwell.


Steps are being taken
in order to ensure
that certain travelers
are tested for the virus
this is certain to protect you
from the maskless man
coughing in the produce section
the sneezing woman
standing in line at the pharmacy
and the virus
which attended your Christmas party.


A note of clarification:

I do not plan on
wearing a mask
though I will continue
wearing a mask
for the duration
of this deadly pandemic.

this should not be
particularly difficult to understand.


It is a confusing moment
in which we find ourselves
wherein those
still taking precautions
are derided as holdouts
even as new travel restrictions
are put in place.


According to the news
the state of the virus
over there
is very worrisome
according to the news
the state of the virus
over here
is only worrisome
to holdouts and alarmists.


Though distressingly much
about this moment
seems quite familiar
you must not say
that it is just like
being back at the start
of the pandemic
for at the start of the pandemic
we could still be bothered
to at least pretend
that we are in this together.


If as a unit of measurement
a single incalculable loss
one hundred thousand lives
taken by the virus,
in this year that is ending
we have experienced here
just shy
of three incalculable losses.


When historians write
of 2022
they will say it was the year
in which people declared
“the pandemic is over”
even as
the pandemic dragged on
into yet another year.


And so
the year ends
exactly as it began:
with the plague.


Raise your champagne
to the year that was:
where the pandemic ended
as the virus kept evolving,
where smiles returned
as masks were mocked,
where the numbers looked fine
as we had stopped counting,
a year that was
not survived by so very many
but that at least was survived
by you.


So the goals you had set
were not achieved.

So the plans you had made
all went awry.

So all of your hopes
(your quite moderate hopes)
just ended in disappointment.

You have survived another year
of the plague
and while that may feel
as though it is not enough

it suffices.



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 @libshipwreck

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

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

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