Last Best Niche

found language from Brideshead Revisited

When I was seventeen,
ecstasy disguised itself as vice:
juicy, offensive, and easy—

pretty things want to get rough.
an impertinent affair of the heart & more than the heart,
when I was seventeen. 

Tipsy virgins viced their pimples
when I was seventeen,
and transformed pretty things to indecisive cornsilk. 

When I was seventeen I said
I give up, finding no keener pleasure than a dear
or unnatural boys in ecstasy.

My partner, the obscure other,
was very naughty and kind
insatiable as our affairs, 

so I gave up and let myself be offensive—
a juicy piece of impertinence 
when I was seventeen,

wearing coloured tails obscured
by poppies, hearts, and deers:
no thing could give me keener pleasure.

Come back! I’ll be keenly offensive!
whispered, when I was seventeen
and transformed the popping juice of pleasure.

With meaty boys, a juicy little piece 
of vice, when I was seventeen.
And with others? Pleasure. Hullabaloo. Ecstasy. 

The heart’s juicy poppy,
its rough pimples, its kindness—blasphemous.
I gave up more than my heart.

Copyright © 2021 by Cyrée Jarelle Johnson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 3, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.