Pandemic Poem #4

This poem is called “Yes, Sorry, This is a Political Poem” because I was feeling angry about the slow, almost indifferent-seeming, “wait and see” response we were seeing from our officials even after we had been warned by China and Italy that this pandemic was far more than we might have expected. And so many people kept just blithely talking about “when this is over” as though it would just be a week or two. It was never going to be quickly resolved. The amount of misinformation fed to the public continues to concern me. Many folks I know claim this isn’t political, or that they aren’t political, ask others “not to make it political” but the reality is, it is absolutely political in all the ugliest ways, and every human being is a political creature because that’s how human society works. Claiming to be apolitical or non-political is still a political choice–and I would argue, a dangerous one that allows those who would to exploit this event for their personal and political gain, at all our expense. This poem is political, yes, but also another idealist response, sort of John Lennon “Imagine”-y, really.


Yes, Sorry, this is a Political Poem

I keep hearing when this is over, when this is over
but when this is over nothing will have changed
for the better, if we do not re-shape things
as we go.

There is no factory setting for civilization,
no call center for troubleshooting its collapse;
is not now, nor never has been, a normal
save that which we make among our friends
and family; we cannot hit “reset” and go back
to where things were before–and why should we
want to, presented with a chance to transform?

Come, let’s start something new, build a world
by the people for the people and not imposed
upon the people by a few individuals
with big pockets and too much power,
offer no apologies for taking away their toys
and insisting that everyone matters, that
everything deserves our love and care–

After all, they’ve never apologized for
their wars, their greed, their careless expenditures
of human and environmental capital in pursuit
of their goals.


(Originally written 3/23/2020)

I invite those who are also writing creatively in response to the pandemic to share their words in the comments below. I am sharing the “poem-a-day” on Instagram and Twitter, as well; follow me @mridleyelmes !


About Melissa Ridley Elmes

Professor and writer; Unrepentant nerd; chaotic good. Author of Arthurian Things: A Collection of Poems. PhD, MFA. She/hers. Views my own.
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2 Responses to Pandemic Poem #4

  1. Sarah Gordon says:

    Thank you so much for your poems. They give me something to look forward to each day after online teaching.

    • Melissa Ridley Elmes says:

      Thank you, Sarah, that’s amazingly kind of you! I’m so happy to hear that my poems are meaningful to readers. 🙂

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