Burning poem

You can burn a book but a poem is
logically uninflammable. You can burn
your love letters, your diary, your house,
your volumes of nineteenth century French
pornography; any embarrassing, inexplicable,
unlikable thing that can burn, you can burn.
You can burn an argument by falling silent,
though a word is logically uninflammable.
You can burn the midnight oil, have a burning
ambition or burning desire, burn money or
burn time. Anything that burns, you can burn.
You can burn your dinner, burn the toast
or burn your bra. Burning is a primal power.
You can burn an opinion with censorship, or
burn authority by just not doing
what you’re supposed to do. —Try it sometime.
You’ll like it. A thing that burns recedes
in thought. You can burn Joan of Arc, though
the Church will still live, just to spite you.
You can burn parliaments, or the politicians
in their cars, but democracy will still
haunt you. You can burn Jews but then
there would be Nürnberg and unerasable guilt.
Anything that burns or does not burn,
you can burn. You can tie a nigger to a tree
and go to work with a blow-torch, though
there are now some people who would object.
Anything that burns or should not be burned,
you can burn. Burning is an absolute freedom.
You can burn someone else, burn yourself, or
yourself be burned. You can burn Dresden,
or burn Hiroshima, or burn the world.
Anything that burns or should not burn, that
you can burn, other people can burn, too.