The Patriarchy Apologizes
By Tony Brown

Dear Baby Baby,
I’m going to shut up now
after saying I’m sorry;
you must know I lament how
this world is all so very
violent. The sky is violent,
the sea is violent, I am
violent, ashamed of this,
don’t care who
knows it, but I am sorry
and that is peace, isn’t it?
I dare anyone to say it isn’t,

dear Honey Honey, dearest
Sugar Sugar. I am sorry
that when I close my empty hands
they become fists — what is man
except a tree of fists, swinging
like figs on his arms? I dare anyone
to say these fruit aren’t natural and
I’m sorry, sorry I grew this way, but

dear Sweetcheeks, Sweetcheeks,
dearly beloved Ladyfriend, most treasured
Helpmeet, I’m sorry, sorry
you’ve taken all I am the way you have.
Dear Bloom In My Garden, Loveflower
Of My Eye, I’m as natural
as you are, limited, constrained,
a square of edge and mass in a round world
that contrasts and conflicts and isn’t that
what the good God intended, what
Nature and Nurture intended for us both?

Dearest, you flee me and I’m sorry
but I’m angry and some words come hard
to the angry and when I call you “Dearest”
I’m sorry it comes out like a war cry but
I am forced to become the Violence I claim to see
in the world and when I call you “Beloved”
you are meant to come as you are and I’m sorry
if it’s not as you’d most desire but I am
sorry, Love, sorry you see me as such a
disaster but I am at least a natural disaster —

when you say I can learn, Sweetness,
when you say I can change, Dearest,
I’m sorry but I don’t see how
or why.

By Tony Brown

All our well-schooled
experience of poisonous
double talk would suggest that
if one controls
the language, one then
controls the thought.
Science-based, evidencebased
conclusion: if not true
then why do we believe in the
rarity of diamonds? Why
advertising, sloganeering,
marketing, speechwriting?
We are as vulnerable as
our ancestors. We are curled
into word-coated wombs of
belief as tightly as any fetus,
stuffing our entitlement to freedom
into spaces too small
for us to feel comfortable for long.

Let them try to chain down
our diversity of song. Let them
forbid “transgender” or any other
and we will spring out in a birth
of allowance, saying all the
words at once:

revolt, ignore, engage,
detach, disrupt, exist,

Tony Brown is a poet living in Worcester, Mass., and the frontman for the poetry-music fusion ensemble, The Duende Project.