Meet an Immense Goliath: Hercules

When King Kong protected me

From harm as I rode his back,

Brookfield Zoo Gorilla cage

At forty through thick window,

Stared in the eyes of immense

Five hundred pound Goliath

Munching grapes like emperor.

Sunny mood, gentle with mice,

Endless quarts of milk swallowed

Brute's brown bristle-brush torso,

Rough-hewn wrinkled hairy head,

Divided by muscle wall

My frame cast dappled shadow

On grey rock sanctuary.

My boys romped to ape's shelter

Before wife with baby came

Giant arose like mountain,

Lightening blaze from fire eyes

Grasped my gaze, enraged  he dashed

Smashed thunder fists on thick glass

Shattering serenity

Terror-stricken faces jumped

Back from rattling refuge cave.

Black janitor smiled and said,

“Don’t you know how to read, man?”

Mortified, body shaking,

Looked at sign above his den

"Never stare in gorilla’s eyes,

it challenges his space.”

Cultural Awakening in Japan

Story Salon                     Dan Reading poem at Onion Fall Poetry Festival 11102013

(Below was my presentation at the Story Salon this evening)

I am 15 in Japan on my first day of school with my brother Chip where Dad was stationed as a Naval Commanding Officer at Yokosuka Naval Base

Every school day at 7:00 A.M., Chip and I walked a mile to an electric train that took us to Kamakura. We caught a larger train to a city called Sushi passing a huge statue of Buddha’s mother, Maya, in Ofuna, the site of one of the most hideous concentration camps. Crowds of Japanese workers, professionals, and students nudged the person in front until the warning bell and then they shoved smiling until each car was stuffed so different than in America where touching seems forbidden. From there we boarded a grey Navy bus to Yokohama High for our first class at 8:15 A.M. The one-hour commute covered thirty miles.

Japanese Commuter Train

On my first trip, I looked around and, for the first time, realized what a member of a racial minority felt like when surrounded by people with backgrounds alien to mine, whose skin and hair color, eyes, foreheads, differed significantly from my features. I studied the faces of the people called “Japs,” in war movies, often depicted as inferior vicious buck-toothed warriors, a “yellow menace,” the allied forces had fought in World War II. Fanatic fascists who would never surrender, President Truman felt compelled to drop two atomic bombs, decimating them like so many insects.

Upon careful inspection, however, each face had a wide variety of unique characteristics. They had long or short noses, relaxed or tightened mouths, and different hair styles. Many wore hats and long, or short dresses, or silk kimonos of all colors, and black school uniforms with white shirts. Others sported three-piece suits with brief cases and wore glasses of every kind imaginable. The males had their hair slicked straight back, wavy, crew cut, or bald. Their skin pigment varied from dark to light, and every shade in between, some were clean-shaven; others had beards or a mustache.

They did not move like the automatons, or simplistic people portrayed in newsreels I had watched. The Japanese stereotypes portrayed in the movies had propagandized and prejudiced me. The Japanese were actually far more complex and distinctive.

When I attempted to communicate in my broken Japanese, they were responsive in either good or broken English, courteous, and welcoming. They seemed delighted when an American boy showed enough interest in their culture to ask a question in elementary Japanese and were as intelligent, industrious, and, often, as athletic as any American. This awareness helped me learn one of life’s most important lessons: we are all part of one race, the human race. No race, because of any attribute, over which they have no control, stands inferior, or superior, to any other.

Buddha in Kamakura Avatar

Nearby the bronze statue of the Great Buddha majestically rose above stone steps encircled by natural vegetation. A Japanese garden rested behind the immense meditating figure that induced a sense of tranquility from his facial expression, folded hands on his knees, his seated posture, and the ambiance of the surroundings. The adjacent Hachiman Shrine held the Shinto god of war and archery, in an old reddish-orange wood building with a sloping roof.

sunrise over Fuji with Torii

Located at the top of stone steps on the other side of a park, a long approach formed a tunnel ending at a large vermilion stone entrance with a black lintel known as Torii. For those who follow Shinto, this structure divides the spiritual area within from the profane region beyond. Shaped like two “T”’s their trunks straddled the cherry trees, whose white blossoms spread like dancers on branches. Petal blizzards covered the ground like pink dotted snowflakes mixed with shiny green leaves while gangs of squirrels romped, darted, and danced.

Alex(Yoshio Suzuki) Birthday Chip, Bill and Dan top left)Kamakura 1955

(Chip, Bill, Dan, top left back row at birthday party with Japanese friends from Kamakura 1955)

In another location thousands of bystanders watched a traditional spectacle featuring mounted equestrian archers in black shaggy wigs adorned in hunting costumes of feudal samurai warriors from the Kamakura period (1192-1333). The horsemen shot arrows from quivers slung across their backs as they raced at three targets set up along a straight riding ground eight hundred feet long. The turnip-head arrows made a whistling sound as they flew through the air. The large crowd loudly applauded each time an archer scored a direct hit. They shot, quickly reloaded, and launched arrows in a swift coordinated motion. A few hit all three targets that caused a thunderous roar.


  Buddha Smiles in Kamakura

Bronze folded hands and Buddha’s smiling face,

White circular blossoms from cherry trees

Smoothing the wrinkles of the human face.

Blossoms tumbling down and spreading in space,

Beckoning all to seek a world of peace.

Bronze folded hands and Buddha’s smiling face.

Nature’s beauty slowing man’s frenzied pace.

Flying buzzing pollen gathering bees,

Petals like a dancer’s dress of white lace.

Bronze folded hands and Buddha’s smiling face.

Gentle wind blowing waves upon blue seas,

Swallows flying, drifting, gliding in grace.

Archer’s arrows whistling shatter the base.

At warrior’s thunder animals freeze.

Bronze folded hands and Buddha’s smiling face.

White flowers placed at Buddha’s feet in vase.

Peaceful worshipers fall down on their knees,

Seeking enlightenment and state of grace.

Bronze folded hands and Buddha’s smiling face.

(Excerpt modified from my Memoir, All the Difference, for presentation at the Story Salon this evening)

Related Images:

Poem Honoring My Brother on His Birthday

(Chip the fisherman, father, and grandfather)


Click to Zoom all Photos that seem too small)

Born Richard J. Lavery III in Morgan Park near Chicago in 1938

On August 14th which later proved to be a very special date


(Chip and Val)

(Val, Lewis, and Chip Chicago 1940)

Husky, muscular, athletic, intelligent and handsome lad

Named after and followed the footsteps of his demanding Dad


( Dad, Paul, Aunt Jane, Val,Chip, Dan Morgan Park 1946) 

 (Dad Annapolis plebe year 1928)

 (Dad Commander Headquarters Support Activity Yokosuka Japan 1955-7)

Loved fishing anytime and lived in places near the sea

Natural leader who could always explain the world to me


As children we would play cards, hide and seek and hike everywhere

We played hard, competitively and no matter what we played fair


He would bait my hook, untangle my line and knew all the fish

Even organized a menu telling Gammie what to put on the dish


Playing the sax with rhythm, riffs, jazz, classical and rock

Glen Miller, Parker, Desmond, Mozart, Beethoven and Bach

Took me to Lyon & Healy music lessons in Chicago by train

Summer Michigan boys scout camps and 3 day canoe trips in rain


Boxing, softball, cowboys and Indians, and piano lessons in Vallejo

Folding newspapers & packing our bikes for our routes in Coronado


Dillon beach, Los Coronados islands or Jenner-by-the-Sea

He'd show the way and teach his little brother a better person to be

Taught me to square away my uniform, shoes and drill at MPMA

Win at monopoly, canasta, chess, pool or other games every day


Yes he’d tease me, call me names and dunk me in the pool

But never had a malicious thought while making me look a fool

He’d tell a joke and break me up with a belly laugh and roar

I would follow his lead whatever he wanted me to do and more


Once on a playground a bully threatened Chip when I was six

I screamed at him to leave Chip alone or I'd give his face a fix


He knew better than to mess with these Lavery boys

Despite our daily battles, as a team we could make much noise


Inseparable from his loving Chihuahua Tico the mascot of YoHi

Who would wander off, bark, ruffle his fur and go eye to eye

(Tico, white husky Chihuahua, YoHi Mascot)


With any animal ten times his size no matter how vicious or mean

A magnificent and loving pet, his coat shimmering white and clean


Long distance track star and halfback at fifteen for CHS

When I saw him in shoulder pads and cleats proudly I said, "Yes"

(Alex's Kamakura Birthday Party 1955, Chip, Bill, Dan top Ken, Alex  Bottom)

(YoHi Varsity Football 1956 Defense, Chip 15, Dan 13)Click to expand

Hard running YoHi fullback who could cut and run through you

Potent stiff arm, dive, rolling block or a mighty bulldoze too

(Tom running, Dan and Chip blocking for YoHi at Yokohama Japan 1956)

(YoHi Offense 1956)


(Chip and Pat, high school sweethearts, first to marry Annapolis class of 1960 at USNA Chapel)

Fell in love with a beautiful gal born on his birthday

Apple of his eye and by her side he would always stay

(Dan and Chip at Annapolis 1959)


To the Naval Academy at Annapolis at only 17 he proudly went

After much refined preparation he was appointed by our president

(Chip at Pensacola Summer Training)


Scientific mind with peerless mathematics and engineering skill

After a Rickover interview a nuclear submarine billet he did fill


First married from the proud class of 1960 he led the way

Love of family, character, and knowledge lit each day


Honest, hard-working family-man who traveled far and wide

Pat, Rick, Bill, Tim, Steve, Chris and their pets always by his side


Until one dark day when fate dealt Chip and us a bitter blow

And took her and her mother to a place some day we will know


She sang silver-toned with angelic voice any musical part

Wonderful mother and companion who was always in his heart


Five happy, healthy, handsome and hearty boys remind us every day

Of  her and her mother's beauty, commitment, and love here to stay


We see this in each wonderful grandchild's life and face

Rick, Bill, Tim, Steve, and Chris's support provided a special place


For Chip to begin a new life and find another soul-mate to share

The future with and build a business from scratch with flare

Linda came into his life at just the right time to help them both

Quell the despair from the unspeakable loss of the one they troth

Melodious voice, warm heart, love for kids, teaching, and Chip

Perfect match to ease them into the golden year's trip


Their boys moving forward steadily since they were born

All in their own way the family heritage they well-adorn

Now another fateful blow from a doctor's shrill report

A new battle against a foe that knows not fair sport


We support you with the love that characterizes your life

Knowing interceding forces will sustain you in your strife


We hope that the enormous resources of our medical world

Will help your life flourish like a bright flag unfurled


Know from your brother this poem is written from the heart

To the best brother I could have been blessed with from the start


(Presented at Richard J. Lavery III’s funeral in Gainesville, Florida, and to him in the hospital )

Related Images:

At an Old Hand I Sat Today

My wife was cleaning out some papers from her desk and ran across a poem that our eldest son wrote the year his grandmother and grandfather died. It still brings tears to our eyes when we read it. Just wanted to share it. We feel blessed to have such a sensitive and remarkable son.

At an old hand I sat today.

Listen Listened to the winded way

Leaves unfolded in their day

Once needed not let free

Once needed next to me

Once needed bodied lair

Once needed needless care

Grandpa can you hear me

Spoken words miss their goal

Hours, minutes take their toll

Lasting moments now go

Message in your bottle

Sent out at sea,

Find your destination be


Looked into her frightened eyes,

Saw her far and distant skies

Listen, Listened as she spoke

Many times my heart was broke

Many times I have awoke

Many times are many still

Many times enough to kill


Grandma are you grandma still,

Or does the life take that as well

Will you find me out one day

When my hair is light and gray

Hold my hand in lullaby,

Sit here by my side

Whisked away in rising tide.


At an old hand I sit today

 Listen, Listened to these songs

Twitching itching down my throat,

Fiddle fiddled up this note

Broke the candy coated coat

I need them as they pass their ways

Dancing, singing in their days.



Related Images:

Crispus Attucks poem by John Boyle O’Reilly

 Crispus Attucks.jpg

in Crispus Attucks Legacy and Historical Landmarks

John Boyle O’Reilly (1844-1890) was an Irish-born poet who wrote the poem Crispus Attucks.


WHERE shall we seek for a hero, and where shall we find a story? Our laurels are wreathed for conquest, our songs for completed glory. But we honor a shrine unfinished, a column uncapped with pride, If we sing the deed that was sown like seed when Crispus Attucks died.

Shall we take for a sign this Negro-slave with unfamiliar name— With his poor companions, nameless too, till their lives leaped forth in flame? Yea, sorely, the verdict is not for us, to render or deny; We can only interpret the symbol; God chose these men to die— As teachers and types, that to humble lives may chief award be made; That from lowly ones, and rejected stones, the temple’s base is laid!

When the bullets leaped from the British guns, no chance decreed their aim: Men see what the royal hirelings saw—a multitude and a flame; But beyond the flame, a mystery; five dying men in the street, While the streams of severed races in the well of a nation meet!

O, blood of the people! changeless tide, through century, creed and race! Still one as the sweet salt sea is one, though tempered by sun and place; The same in the ocean currents, and the same in the sheltered seas; Forever the fountain of common hopes and kindly sympathies; Indian and Negro, Saxon and Celt, Teuton and Latin and Gaul— Mere surface shadow and sunshine; while the sounding unifies all! One love, one hope, one duty theirs! No matter the time or ken, There never was separate heart-beat in all the races of men!

But alien is one—of class, not race—he has drawn the line for himself; His roots drink life from inhuman soil, from garbage of pomp and pelf; His heart beats not with the common beat, he has changed his life-stream’s hue; He deems his flesh to be finer flesh, he boasts that his blood is blue: Patrician, aristocrat, tory—whatever his age or name, To the people’s rights and liberties, a traitor ever the same. The natural crowd is a mob to him, their prayer a vulgar rhyme; The freeman’s speech is sedition, and the patriot’s deed a crime. Wherever the race, the law, the land,—whatever the time, or throne, The tory is always a traitor to every class but his own.

Thank God for a land where pride is clipped, where arrogance stalks apart; Where law and song and loathing of wrong are words of the common heart; Where the masses honor straightforward strength, and know, when veins are bled, That the bluest blood is putrid blood—that the people’s blood is red!

And honor to Crispus Attucks, who was leader and voice that day; The first to defy, and the first to die, with Maverick. Carr, and Gray. Call it riot or revolution, his hand first clenched at the crown; His feet were the first in perilous place to pull the king’s flag down; His breast was the first one rent apart that liberty’s stream might flow; For our freedom now and forever, his head was the first bid low.

Call it riot or revolution, or mob or crowd, as you may, Such deaths have been seed of nations, such lives shall be honored for aye. They were lawless hinds to the lackeys—but martyrs to Paul Revere; And Otis and Hancock and Warren read spirit and meaning clear. Ye teachers, answer: what shall be done when just men stand in the dock; When the caitiff is robed in ermine, and his sworders keep the lock; When torture is robbed of clemency, and guilt is without remorse; When tiger and panther are gentler than the Christian slaver’s curse; When law is a satrap’s menace, and order the drill of a horde— Shall the people kneel to be trampled, and bare their neck to the sword?

Not so! by this Stone of Resistance that Boston raises here! By the old North Church’s lantern, and the watching of Paul Revere! Not so! by Paris of ‘Ninety-Three, and Ulster of ‘NinetyEight! By Toussaint in St. Domingo! by the horror of Delhi’s gate! By Adams’s word to Hutchinson! by the tea that is brewing still! By the farmers that met the soldiers at Concord and Bunker Hill!

Not so! not so! Till the world is done, the shadow of wrong is dread; The crowd that bends to a lord to-day, to-morrow shall strike him dead. There is only one thing changeless: the earth steals from under our feet, The times and manners are passing moods, and the laws are incomplete; There is only one thing changes not, one word that still survives— The slave is the wretch who wields the lash, and not the man in gyves!

There is only one test of contract: is it willing, is it good? There is only one guard of equal right: the unity of blood; There is never a mind unchained and true that class or race allows; There is never a law to be obeyed that reason disavows; There is never a legal sin but grows to the law’s disaster, The master shall dropp the whip, and the slave shall enslave the master!

O, Planter of seed in thought and deed has the year of right revolved, And brought the Negro patriot’s cause with its problem to be solved? His blood streamed first for the building, and through all the century’s years, Our growth of story and fame of glory are mixed with his blood and tears. He lived with men like a soul condemned—derided, defamed, and mute; Debased to the brutal level, and instructed to be a brute. His virtue was shorn of benefit, his industry of reward; His love!—O men, it were mercy to have cut affection’s cord; Through the night of his woe, no pity save that of his fellow-slave; For the wage of his priceless labor, the scourging block and the grave!

And now, is the tree to blossom? Is the bowl of agony filled? Shall the price be paid, and the honor said, and the word of outrage stilled? And we who have toiled for freedom’s law, have we sought for freedom’s soul? Have we learned at last that human right is not a part but the whole? That nothing is told while the clinging sin remains part unconfessed? That the health of the nation is periled if one man be oppressed?

Has he learned—the slave from the rice-swamps, whose children were sold—has he, With broken chains on his limbs, and the cry in his blood, ‘I am free!’ Has he learned through affliction’s teaching what our Crispus Attucks knew— When Right is stricken, the white and black are counted as one, not two? Has he learned that his century of grief was worth a thousand years In blending his life and blood with ours, and that all his toils and tears Were heaped and poured on him suddenly, to give him a right to stand From the gloom of African forests, in the blaze of the freest land? That his hundred years have earned for him a place in the human van Which others have fought for and thought for since the world of wrong began?

For this, shall his vengeance change to love, and his retribution burn, Defending the right, the weak and the poor, when each shall have his turn; For this, shall he set his woeful past afloat on the stream of night; For this, he forgets as we all forget when darkness turns to light; For this, he forgives as we all forgive when wrong has changed to right.

And so, must we come to the learning of Boston’s lesson to-day; The moral that Crispus Attucks taught in the old heroic way; God made mankind to be one in blood, as one in spirit and thought; And so great a boon, by a brave man’s death, is never dearly bought!

John Boyle O’Reilly

Related Images: