Renita Phifer: The Archbishop Visits

17 Jun

The following poem was written by RWW contributor Renita Phifer after Catholic Archbishop Timothy J. Dolan visited Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in 2009.

The Archbishop visits Bedford Hills Correctional Facility

Who am I
I’m told, I’m no one
My number defines me
And allows for their abusive

Does the archbishop know
They can hit me, verbally abuse me,
Violate me without provocation
My number means my name is taken from me.
And without a name I’m removed
From humanity—
An inmate, convict, not a person
Yet when visitors come concrete
Is waxed!

C.O.’s paint on smiles and put on dress uniforms—
There’s a pretense of care Commissioner Fisher
Arrives and inmates become a part of humanity.

Let’s all sing cum ba ya, the Archbishop
Is here pull out the red carpet
–Symbolic—for their infamy—
As it symbolizes the bloodshed of
My peers beaten bloody by batons and

Does the Archbishop know about that, and
After his visit—I’m told I’m no one!


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