The Shame Game


  If you have walked a mile in my shoes then you are sadly familiar with the Shame Game.  You know how it’s played.  Your Loved One Is A Monster.  No One In My Family Would Ever Do Something That Horrible.  Some will outright say it.  Some will cleverly try to hide it, like the Shell Game, under statements assuring you that YOU are acceptable, just not you loved one or their crime.  Some will clearly put out the NOT WELCOME here sign, some will let you walk on in…but please sit quietly in the back and don’t draw attention to yourself, kinda like the red-headed step-child of the family. Some will direct you to a place more suited for “your kind.” 

  Then there are the blessed few who will actually reach out to you In Public “gasp” and pull you in, all the while shooting “shame on you’s” at those others who didn’t, or wouldn’t, or couldn’t.  Those are the ones I choose to associate with.  Those are the ones who I strive to be like.  They operate from a place of love and compassion and kindness for all.  We could all learn so much from those blessed few.

I can’t judge any of you. I have no malice against you and no ribbons for you. But I think that it is high time that you all start looking at yourselves, and judging the lie that you live in.
Charles Manson



  I write today with a sad, disillusioned heart.  For many years, since my son’s arrest and subsequent 20 year federal sentence, I have been an active and proud member of the FedCURE organization.  To that end, I have supported every call for action, signed every petition, made calls to elected officials, and gave generously of my time, money and energy on behalf of FedCURE.  I whole-heartedly believed I was supporting a group that was fighting for the best interest of my son behind bars.  I was wrong. 

  I believed, however naively,  that I was part of a fair-minded group who stood for justice for all.  After all, a group that is supposedly made up of family members with a loved one in prison or have themselves experienced the pain and stigma of incarceration, would never stand in judgement of anyone in this predicament.  I was wrong.

  Perhaps as an example of my naivety, I posted a thread regarding prisoner treatment and the access to prison computers.  In that post I shed light on the nature of my son’s charge which consisted of  possession of child pornography.  He was sent a file of a Limewire type shareware program and did, in fact, open and viewed two but was charged with possession of the almost 1,000 images that were (and remained) unopened.  I posted this thread fully believing I would be supported by  FedCURE and it’s members and not encounter judgement.  I was wrong. 

  Judgement is exactly what I got.  After an initial barrage of vile and lurid messages (some emanating from one prominent “infamous” member) telling me just how SICK and DESPICABLE the charges, and in the end, my son were, I felt attacked, violated and shamed, not to mention completely shocked.  For the almost 5 years that I have been a member, I was never under any assumption other than that FedCURE stood for all.  I was wrong.    

  Some have written that FedCURE only stands for federal sentencing issues, well, that’s what I thought too and is the primary reason I joined the site.   My son is serving a  disproportionate sentence of 20 years for opening 2 pictures, when murderers can get out in half the time.  So I would answer those writing that, yes, FedCURE should be all about sentencing issues.    I have held out for so long that the FedCURE umbrella would afford protection and support for all that were sentenced, including my son and thousands like him.  I was wrong.

  I thought I would forever be a proud, lifetime member of FedCURE.  I was wrong.   


  “Never look down on anybody unless you’re helping them up”                   Jesse Jackson




She lies awake daring the night to a stare

Pupils wide open to the ghosts in the air

Her mind’s eye wandering off with a mind of its own

But where

A chamber, perhaps; cloaked thinly by the accent of her child’s cries

And witnessed only through the lens of a mother’s eyes

Well, a wistful swing to the past waits if she dares

A door swung wide to a thousand days olden

As seasons aging turn the aspens golden

Must be some warm memories there

Must be, must be

The genesis parading now unhurried and unfettered

After all, it was only the beginning; it was only yesterday

Tricycles and popsicles and first walk up the stairs

In Polaroid moments then gone in a flash

Come now into frame, no chance to revise

Now hang on the wall

In a mother’s eyes

A mother’s eyes never really close now do they

And rarely do they sleep

Ne’er to welcome slumber’s peace

For they still have souls to keep

Dreams to guard

A job never done

Ah, but having laid witness to the pain of labour and the labour of pain

She is most familiar with this bane

Discovering her fancy wrapped now in the throws of an implacable chain

She laments

For too rapidly went the years

For too quickly came the tears

For too gripping are the fears

And though she pines for the loss unspoken

There remains a way to a bond unbroken

Just a mile, she’d say; as the crow flies

Even less when drifting through the love

Of a mother’s eyes

JUNE 2011

Who would have ever thought my hands would strike these keys to speak of sorrows such as this. There is seldom a place of refuge or a place for compassion in a world that is ignorant to an experience such as this. We that come here to read, those of us that have in spirit gone to prison ourselves, serve time in a place so intimately our own for few can comprehend the depth of our loss.

Though no one has died, we mourn, though no person
has been laid to rest the fact of the matter is, the person we once knew, has left us forever and will never be the same – neither will we.

Who can know what it is like to manage a face of courage when inside your heart is screaming with fear and frustration? And how can any understand the prejudice that we encounter when others are appalled at the notion that we would associate ourselves with such degenerates. They do not know.

They do not know this journey that we share as the casualties to the varying scenarios that brought our loved ones to incarceration. And oddly enough having once sat in that seat of innocent, ignorance and condecention what they really do not know, is that it can happen to anyone, even them.

Until it comes to your door, you can not imagine or remotely fathom the capacity this beast of agony has to torment your life – and though we have come here to share and expose to each other our commonalities in pain – each one of us silently cries specific tears that only God can understand.

This we know, this we live and may God be with anybody who ever reads this and may He richly console you in your loss. May His promise of His peace that surpasses all understanding be with you.
Author unknown

  The words above were not written by me, but they could have been. 

“Those of us who in spirit have gone to prison ourselves, serve time in a place so intimatly our own for few can comprehend the depth of our loss”   That is how if feels.  We are all serving time with our loved ones behind bars.  Each mother, wife, child, father…it is the same.  Our heart doesn’t beat like it used to, our soul has withered, our hurt takes on a life of it’s very own.  We keep living, going through the motions, really.  Barely functioning ghost of the people we used to be.  Empty shells trying to fill the void left by that person who has been taken away. 

  It sounds dire and depressing.  All days are not like this, and yet too many are.  And unless you have walked a mile in these shoes…you can not begin to know.


Revelation 8:6 And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.

Mary Duval has passed.  The trumpets have sounded.  And yes there were angels; a million of them, joyously marking the fact that Mary D was now in their band.  But knowing Mary as I do, I believe these deities weren’t at all cloaked in flowing, diaphanous white robes, but rather in “steppin’ out” attire – black cocktail dresses and sharkskin suits; rocking ray-bans all.

No, for this contentious and invincible spirit I was thinking Saturday night Jazz.  Progressive, mind blowing fusions that conjure up Miles Davis in a neon-coated off-the wall-late-night ad libitum that blows the doors – and parochial musical concepts – off their frame and into the street, is how I will remember Mary.  For this is how Mary played.  She was fire.  She was electricity with no off switch.  A fearless social virtuoso who went for the highest, boldest, and loudest notes…especially when the bar manager was signaling to keep it down.   Please keep it down.  Never happened; that is not how she played.

The stage is empty, the chairs have been stacked and the lights turned off.  Mary played to encores and standing O’s.  It was a performance for the ages.

But if one listens, though…I mean really listens, one can still here her trumpet wailing from the club upstairs; seems as though she ain’t done her set yet.

Does that surprise anyone?

Goodbye, friend.  You were one hell of a player.





He Who Lives in a Glass House Shouldn’t Throw Stones at Others
Egyptian proverb
Though origins of the proverb may be English, the proverb is now widely used in Egypt.
It advises people not to attack others for their mistakes when they have the same mistakes.The proverb is an equivalent to the bible’s verse “Why do you see the speck of chaff that is in your brother’s eye, but don’t consider the beam that is in your own eye.”


    It saddens me when I see another case where someone has made a grave mistake in judgement that results in public condemnation and humiliation.  People love to judge and point fingers at someone elses expense.  However, when one of the very ones who relished in pointing those fingers is brought down in their own shame, then I must believe they are experiencing the fruits of Karma in their life.   One reaps what one sows. 

  Rep. Anthony Weiner had the audacity to mock the humiliation that Larry Craig experienced in his sex-scandal two short weeks before he found his own sext-scandal the newest headlines.  Glass houses come tumbling down.

   What I find most appalling in this case is Anthony Wiener in all his self-righteousness co-sponsored a bill to Keep the Internet Devoid of Sex Predators.  He stood and smiled for the voters in all the photo-ops and accepted all the accolades and kudos’ for being tough on anyone charged with a sex offense.  All the while, he had his own dirty deeds going on behind that blue screen.  Hypocrisy at its worst. 



Lessons From The Anthony Weiner Cybersex Escapades

Here’s a few lessons to learn from the Anthony Weiner fiasco.

  • Not all creepy married guys trolling for sex online are registered sex offenders. There’s even congressmen like Anthony Weiner.
  • Legislation like the KIDS Act of 2007 won’t do much to protect anyone from registered sex offenders or guys like Anthony Weiner.
  • Protect yourself when dealing with strangers online and don’t rely upon leglislation to protect your kids in cyberspace either. Parental supervision is key. 

  So-called “Polite Society” loves to throw around the term “Sex Predator” and Sex Offender” while they draw their curtains tight and keep offenders out of their neighborhoods.  I dare say Mr. Weiner would have been and has been welcomed at many a dinner table in “Polite Society”  and yet, so many sitting in prison right this very moment did no more than Rep. Weiner did to get themselves put there.  They, too, talked online or sent graphic images to someone they “assumed” was an adult which is exactly what Rep. Weiner has admitted to doing.  If it proves to be that just one of those pictures ended up in the hands of a minor then Heaven help Anthony Weiner because you are about to experience the Hell of being labeled a Sex Offender.  I do not wish that on anyone no matter how much bad karma you might have coming your way.

Tears of Blood


  Tears are the safety valve of the heart when too much pressure is laid on it.  ~Albert Smith

  A very wise woman once told me that I could cry tears of blood and it wouldn’t make a bit of difference or change the outcome of what was happening to me or to my son.  He would still be in prison.  People would still hate him and judge him and our family and life would still be unfair.  This had a profound effect on me.  Up until this point, all I had done was cry.  Cry so hard for so long that I would get physically ill.  Day after day and night after night, I cried.  For almost 2 years, that is all I could manage to do.  I could have filled a river with my tears.  I was living in a haze of pain and grief and semi-madness.  I don’t know if semi-madness is a real term or not but to me it means that place of limbo where you  should have been committed but you appeared to be still functioning so most people left you alone.  They also steered a wide path around you though, because you just give off a vibe of “something ain’t quite right here”.  In your head, you fluctuate back and forth between wishing someone would just put their arms around you and make it all better and having the urge to climb up on the top of McDonald’s and begin shooting random strangers.  Like I said, people steered a wide path around me. 

  These words came from this wise woman and mother, who by the way, was dealing with her own son in prison.  He was 5 years into a 20 year to life sentence for rape.  Even though the woman had recanted her accusation, the courts had refused to overturn his sentence.  He had been a soldier serving his country, home on leave when the incident occurred.  Somewhere between the Welcome Home BBQ and the Good-bye, Come Home Safe party, he had been arrested and charged and the nightmare for this mother began.  He was in Leavenworth Federal Prison wearing a prison jumpsuit instead of his Army dress uniform and a long way from his Kentucky home on the side of a mountain and his God-fearing and believing mother.  She was an ordained pastor and had a calmness and serenity about her that puzzled me.  I kept wondering what had kept HER off the roof of McDonald’s with a sawed-off shotgun?  During that time, the McDonald’s fantasy seemed perfectly reasonable to me.  (Told you, semi madness).  I never did find an answer to where her serenity came from, I assume it was her faith, something I was sorely lacking in during that time. 

Just as a small fire is extinguished by the storm whereas a large fire is enhanced by it – likewise a weak faith is weakened by predicament and catastrophes whereas a strong faith is strengthened by them.” Viktor E. Frankl (1905-1997, Holocaust Survivor and Author of “Man’s Search for Meaning”) 

  Still, somehow, this woman’s calm and knowing words to me was able to penetrate the darkness I was in and I felt them in my heart.  I dried my tears and went about finding my way back to sanity.   Semi-sanity maybe but sane enough to function and have a life again and even manage to smile occasionally. 

  I read just recently about a beautiful custom called a Tear Jar or a weeping bottle.   I could have filled a few of them to the brim.

       “In the dry climate of ancient Greece, water was prized above all. Giving up water from one’s own body, when crying tears for the dead, was considered a sacrifice. They caught their precious tears in tiny pitchers or “tear jars” like the one shown here (lifesize). The tears became holy water and could be used to sprinkle on doorways to keep out evil, or to cool the brow of a sick child.  

The tear jars were kept unpainted until the owner had experienced the death of a parent, sibling, child, or spouse. After that, the grieving person decorated the tear jar with intricate designs, and examples of these can still be seen throughout modern Greece.  

This ancient custom symbolizes the transformation that takes place in people who have grieved deeply. They are not threatened by the grief of people in pain. They have been in the depths of pain themselves, and returned. Like the tear jar, they can now be with others who grieve and catch their tears.”


  My son did not die nor did I.  It only felt that way.