By Steven “Walks On The Grass” Maisenbacher
Photo by Gabriela Palai on Pexels.com
Chapter 13

Twenty-One Songs

In my free time, which wasn’t much considering my work and my first love, singing with the band, I continued to develop my jewelry-making skills as well. There in Petersburg, I was allowed to order pretty much whatever I wanted in the way of gemstones and supplies. The majority of my crafting was done sitting outside on the patio at recreation. Looking thru the fence I could see the US Army training facility for tank and military vehicle rescue across the highway. It was interesting to be able to watch the maneuvers of tanks and tracked vehicles doing all sorts of cool stuff while I worked.

At Petersburg, I was always able to do the right things. I had my work, my music and I continued to grow in my personal spiritual journey with each sweat lodge I attended. The Native circle wasn’t a formal one, there was not a method to become a member, just attendance or not attendance; the one  point of criteria was that you had to be registered with the chaplain as Native American. The only real problem I had to deal with was my ever-worsening back pain. I had seen another specialist and had more MRI’s done, but months went by and I was never scheduled for corrective surgery.

Now, let me tell you, in prison you always know your world can fall apart in a heartbeat. Like when I was simply going to ask about my birth certificate, the last thing I expected to hear was, “You can get it at the next institution, you’re designated and awaiting transfer.”

WHAT? I knew nothing about this! Out of a clear blue sky they drop this on me! No, No, No… my sister had already booked the flight and reservations for the hotel and was coming to see me from the Netherlands! Yeah, I went a little crazy, but finally talked sense into them and they agreed to pull me off the transfer list if she would send proof of her itinerary, tickets and all that. No problem, Leontien provided what they needed and they put me on transfer hold till after the visit.

So the days go by, now I’m scrambling to buy a bunch of stuff that I knew they don’t have in Yazoo.  Yes, they had redesignated me right back to the very same place I left to go to Petersburg and I left because I absolutely hated it there.

Anyway while all this is going on I had another major jewelry order in, more than $300.00 worth of materials set to arrive the following week, so I’m sweating that as well. See, when you order supplies through the recreation department’s hobby crafts, you cannot take them with you if you are relocated, so you lose your investment. I knew I could easily work out of those materials if I were in a hurry and had five days to do nothing but building jewelry. I get the visit, everything to be expected, and more. (Thank you again, Leontien, I love you.) Then the very next day my jewelry order arrives and my case manager tells me they have re-entered the order for my transfer and as soon as the marshals are ready to move I will be going.

So feeling the squeeze, I bought 2 bags of coffee and spent 73 hours awake building jewelry, all at once, no sleep nor rest, just a soup on the run and more coffee. I literally set up 10 necklace builds at a time and ended up with over 200 pieces including necklaces, bracelets, earrings, sets and all variations, multiple types and styles. It was crazy the amount of jewelry I managed to build in this marathon knowing it was stay awake and get it done or lose the opportunity to turn my investment into income down the road. When I finished I gave all my left-over materials to a guy who was interested in the craft and mailed the jewelry out to Paints On The Rocks and Karen where it’s still waiting for me to get out so I can start marketing my Rocks On A String line of jewelry to help make a living. So don’t go away, it’ll be available in a little over a year! Smile.


Now I want to take a minute to talk about the band I had there in Petersburg! This is where my heart was and if I do say so, we were incredible. The caliber of musicians was intense; we had been playing some cool copy tunes, by bands like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Dio, and Queensryche. Then overnight we stepped it up when the guitarist said he was sick of cover tunes.

“Walks,” he asked, “Can you write?”

“Not only can I…but I have!”

The next practice I came in with my red folder that had been packed. Inside were the 21 song lyrics I had written over the duration of the treatment for Hepatitis C back in Beaumont Low a few years before.

I just told Mike, “You play, I’ll figure it out.” You would not believe how it went, the guys just fell into it and the jams that Mike and Frank and Tex came up with were totally unbelievable! We were so good that the cops on the compound would come and stand outside the plate glass window listening to us. They would stop me on the compound and go, “Man you guys are something else, when are you playing again?”

Twenty-One Songs

  1.  Deep End
  2.  Self Portrait
  3.  Peaceful At Night
  4.  Camouflage
  5.  Footnote
  6.  Breathe
  7.  Vengeance
  8.  Jealousy Is A Poison
  9.  Dying All Over Again
  10.  Insane
  11.  Twice Baked
  12.  Here and Well
  13.  Pirate
  14.  Peanut Butter
  15.  Bad Day – Go Away
  16.  Then Change It
  17.  Dear Friend
  18.  Sober
  19.  White Noise
  20.  Shame
  21.  Free Here Now

In a matter of six months we went from having no original songs to a total of 26 songs, all original. We could play 3 1/2 hours nonstop; we would go into the band room at 5pm and still be jamming at 8:30pm when they called recall!

We did 2 concerts there at Petersburg and I truly believe that was one of the best bands and line ups I have ever been in. Some of the lyrics you will see in these pages; there sure are some that stand out to me, like Footnote or White Noise or  Robocop or even Camouflage, all so dang good and true-to-life interesting.

You would be amazed at what prison bands can do. This is the Set List for our President’s Day Concert on February 19, 2012 at FCI Low, Petersburg, Virginia.

Editor’s Note: The song, Robo Cop, may be seen by some as “politically incorrect,” so it’s important to understand the story behind it. The song was written in direct response to a particular staff member there at Petersburg who stepped far out of bounds in his abuse of power and disrespect for the rights of the inmates. Whenever Walks sang this song in the band room, even the other guards listening knew its meaning and appreciated this musical call-out of the man’s obnoxious and offensive behavior.

I finally got a job where I can just be me,
Worthless where I serve no purpose, working for the BOP,
I’ll talk real low so my voice is always heard,
I’ll try to act legit when I’m really just a psychopathic turd.

I’m gonna save the universe one onion at a time
I don’t care where you’re going, I’ll make you stand in line.
Touching and groping and fondling, yea, that is what I do,
If you don’t let me rub on you, you’re gonna go to the SHU.

Sir – Sir, can you step over here,
Sir – Sir, I’m robo cop and I’m a queer.
Sir – Sir, I’ll touch you inappropriately
Sir – Sir, I’m gonna make you fill my needs.

I’ll speak to you in passing and hope you don’t respond,
So I can raid your cell and shake you down really hard.
I’ll try to act like I’m really a military man, “Affirmative”
But actually I’m a mama’s boy creep who never had any friends.

Sir – Sir, can you step over here,
Sir – Sir, I’m robo cop and I’m real weird.
Sir – Sir, I’ll touch you inappropriately
Sir – Sir, I’m gonna make you fill all my sick needs.

Well now the story is out, and everybody knows,
Underneath his uniform he’s wearing women’s under clothes.
And he learned to act like that from watching cops on his TV, 
I’m not really sure, but I bet he squats when he pees. . .

Sir – Sir, can you step over here,
Sir – Sir, I’m robo cop and I’m blatantly queer.
Sir – Sir, I’ll touch you inappropriately
Sir – Sir, I’m gonna make you fill my sick needs.

Radio noise: Oh, my god,  I need back up, he’s got a Danish   

Sir – Sir . . .

Robo Cop lyrics © Steven Maisenbacher (Walks on the Grass)

Published by Edna Peirce Dixon

I am an elder in my 9th decade. I have lived an ordinary life, I’ve done all the ordinary and expected things, went to school, got married, raised a family, tried to be a good person. Throughout this life I have also been a seeker, an outsider by nature, always looking through cracks in the fences of life, questioning, challenging, learning, trying to make sense of the world and its conventions. Then in my golden years, as I sought to find meaning in my existence, some unexpected things happened and I’ve since learned it took a lifetime to prepare me for the challenge to come. My journey – indeed my calling - led me to come to know a remarkable man who happened to be an inmate in federal prison. Nothing could have been more foreign to my personal experience. GHOST DANCER Communicating daily for nearly nine years I had the opportunity to walk many paths with Ghost discussing our thoughts on many common interests with candor and respect. With enormous generosity Ghost has allowed me to share his wisdom and knowledge of his Native American heritage on Journeys of the Spirit. Over time, Ghost gradually revealed his life story in small bits, like scrambled pieces of some gigantic puzzle. Now, after spending more than 40 years in prison, Ghost Dancer is at last free and ready to tell his amazing personal story. As the saying goes, “you can’t make this stuff up” and as his friend and editor I can say this is a story so big that even after working with him for nearly nine years, I continue to be astonished as he shares new details my mind simply could never imagine. From the very first chapter, Ghost leads us on his journey and invites us to walk with him on his Nene Cate (Red Road). From the day he was born, a happy, loving gifted child, he endured heartbreaking sorrows, betrayals and exploitations. Through it all, Ghost fought a system determined to destroy him by any means, as he struggled to remain true to his calling. Through Ghost Dancer I also met and came to know Walks On The Grass, another federal prisoner whose story is also compelling even though very different. In Journeys of the Spirit, Walks has shared his decades-long journey from deep addiction to wholeness in LONG ROAD HOME and shared other bits of his story in ALONG THE WAY. Now as he approaches his August release into this crazy world of 2022 Walks shares his the thoughts and misgivings as he counts down to the big day in LIGHTS IN THE DISTANCE.

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