American Life in Poetry
It pains an old booklover like me to think of somebody burning a book, but if you’ve gotten one for a quarter and it’s falling apart, well, maybe it’s OK as long as you might be planning to pick up a better copy. Here Ron Koertge, who lives in Pasadena, has some fun with the ashes of love poems.
Burning the Book
The anthology of love poems I bought
for a quarter is brittle, anyway, and comes
apart when I read it.
One at a time, I throw pages on the fire
and watch smoke make its way up
I’m almost to the index when I hear
a murmuring in the street. My neighbors
are watching it snow.
I put on my blue jacket and join them.
The children stand with their mouths
I can see nouns – longing, rapture, bliss –
land on every tongue, then disappear.
Poem copyright 2012 by Ron Koertge. Poem reprinted by permission of the author. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.