The Poem Challenges Torture

Katrina’s Dream published a new poem today by Malcolm Boyd about torture in American prisons.  The poem connects torture in our American jails and prisons with Jesus’ suffering.  The publication is timed to encourage the Episcopal Convention in Anaheim this July to pass a resolution asking Congress to outlaw torture in American jails and prisons.  It is on the internet at

Change Us
By Malcolm Boyd
We’ve mainstreamed torture, haven’t we, Jesus?  Turned it into just another word in the clutter of everyday news.  Not something to work up any sweat about.  It seems to me our worst sin is to torture people who are already in our power as prisoners.  Like people in our prisons.  Like Bobby Dellelo.
The 33 years you spent with us here, Jesus, including when we nailed you, still hasn’t taught us what we need to know about love and justice, has it?  Our prison system seems an agonizing and endless system of crucifixion.  Why don’t we wake up, Jesus?  Prison torture is torture of flesh and blood beings.  It’s not unlike our torture of you when you dwelt among us.

Please convert us, Jesus, to work against prison torture.  Change us into community organizers for peace, justice, nonviolence and your love.  Thank you, Jesus.

Boyd, 86, is poet/writer-in-residence at the Episcopal Cathedral Center of St. Paul in Los Angeles.  After a career in Hollywood and television, Boyd, was ordained an Episcopal priest.  He founded a college coffee house in Colorado and opposed segregation in Louisiana in 1959. He joined 27 other Episcopal priests, Black and white, in a Louisiana Freedom Ride in 1961, and registered voters in Mississippi and Alabama in 1965, the year “Are You Running with Me, Jesus?” was published.  A fortieth anniversary edition has been published with additional poems.

In 1966 national media reported on his gig reading prayers and his dialogue with audiences about God in the San Francisco nightclub, the hungry i.  He performed with Dick Gregory, Vince Guaraldi and Charlie Byrd.  The New York Times wrote, “Malcolm Boyd is a latter-day Luther or a more worldly Wesley, trying to move religion out of ‘ghettoized’ churches into the streets where people are.”  In 1968 Boyd was with Martin Luther King, Jr. in a nonviolent protest against the Vietnam War inside Arlington Cemetery, directly below the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  He was arrested in the Pentagon for being part of a Peace Mass protesting the Vietnam War.

Bobby Dellelo, 67, spent 40 years of his life in reform schools and prisons, five years in solitary, with three escapes.  He works on the American Friends Service Committee Criminal Justice Program.  He was featured in the March 30, 2009, New Yorker Article “Hellhole” about torture in solitary confinement.

Katrina’s Dream was founded in memory of the late Katrina Martha Swanson, one of the “Philadelphia Eleven” ordained priest irregularly in 1974.  When the Equal Rights Amendment was voted down, Katrina always said the Pledge of Allegiance, “With Liberty and Justice for Some.”  Katrina’s Dream is dedicated to the full inclusion of women in society and Liberty and Justice for All.
Among other justice issues, Katrina’s booth at the Episcopal Convention will support a resolution that “requests the Congress of the United States to prohibit torture including long-term solitary confinement and every cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of prisoners in all prisons, jails, and other places of confinement within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction, following the definition of torture in the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.”  Bobby Dellelo will help staff the booth at the Episcopal convention and speak at the legislative hearing on the resolution which he helped write.

Katrina’s Dream:   George Swanson,   415 464 7744,
Malcolm Boyd:
Boyd is on the web at
Bobby Dellelo:   339 226 0475,
Dellelo is described in the New Yorker Article “Hellhole”
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