A Vice is a Virtue Occluded – a poem by Alfred Fournier

A Vice is a Virtue Occluded
A dam in the river where the blood won’t flow.
Debris piled up like misery at the narrow neck.
Boatman on the shore with shadowed face
doesn’t give a damn if you think you want to cross.
He extends a boney hand for your fare, asks
if you’ve considered it’s a one-way trip.
In Kundalini yoga, a snake coiled at the base
of the spine tenses with unreleased power.
The day we make accommodations for darkness—
offer her a warm meal and a bed,
look into her eyes over after-dinner wine—
is the day the snake will rise.
I’ve carried my desire in bucket-shaped words,
in a hardened knot of muscle braced against the past.
I have to hold it up in my hands
as my ribs hold up my heart,
let it fly with open wings,
innocent as a dove,
stretch my body until the dam breaks,
snake rising through a shower of grief,
rising like Egyptian sun—third eye,
flickering tongue tasting
mountains and sky.
White wings disappearing into night.
Based on a lecture by Joseph Campbell, incorporating a line by W.S. Merwin


Alfred Fournier is an entomologist, writer and community volunteer from Phoenix, Arizona. He coordinates poetry workshops for Connect and Heal, a local non-profit organization. His poems have appeared in Amethyst Review, Third Wednesday, American Journal of Poetry, The Indianapolis Review, The Main Street Rag and elsewhere. On Twitter: @AlfredFournier4.

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