Poets Walk: a gift on the altar

Poets Walk: "a gift on the altar"

Location on Poets Walk Map: 38

Which Side Are You On?  by Janine Pommy Vega

Where does my anger come from

            at the laziness, the prosaic?

How many times will you enter a room

            and leave it vacant: in and out,

in and out, visiting a temple of possibility

            and never leave a gift on the altar?

Come down to the river of your own soul, we are


here, the yellow helmets you see are so many

suns on the horizon, going down and coming up

in no particular time sequence or order.

            When one flower opens, Kabir says,


dozens open. I'm digressing.

Every time you visit yourself without

            respect, you lose. Without love,


Read the coins you've thrown down into the dirt,

            they spell integrity. You recall those

early moments in

your young life when you sang. And we were

            witnesses--if not then, now. We can

               see you

outside the ordinary, grab onto a miracle and

understand it was no more you than the


Oh, so that's it, finally:

No more you or me than that mountain

            there. And no mountain either.

                        Which side are you on?

Eastern Correctional Facility, Napanock, NY, June 6,1996

Janine Pommy Vega., "Which Side Are You On?" from Mad Dogs of Trieste: New & Selected Poems (Black Sparrow Books, 2000). Copyright © 2000 by Janine Pommy Vega. Used by permission of Bob Arnold, Literary Executor for the Estate of Janine Pommy Vega.