Saturday, April 18, 2009

Richard Dutton

It is with delight and a warm sense of friendship that I present Richard Dutton's poetry here as a celebration of his 75th birthday. Dick Dutton's strong and insightful voice resonates amidst Southern California poets. His unusual points of view, vivacious charm, and wry humor ring true and powerfully with personal vision. He is an encouraging and good friend. He and his wife Pauli Dutton are two wonderful poets. He came to poetry through her influence but his voice is individual and unmistakable.

RICHARD DUTTON’s main career has been as an aerospace engineer specializing in field, systems, software development, operations and performance analysis, and system procurement specifications for North American Aviation, Teledyne Systems Company and Lockheed Skunk Works. While in college he worked at Mat Lab at New York Naval Shipyard, Raytheon Research Division, and the National Bureau of Standards (NIST). He has also had stints as a stockbroker for Dean Witter and an electronics specialist in the US Army. After retiring, he began substitute teaching in the Los Angeles Unified School District and elected as a state delegate to the National Education Association where he has been a state contact. He began writing stories and poetry following his wife Pauline’s leadership and inspiration.

SOUND OFF / FACE OFF Richard Dutton (what’s his name?)

People don’t have names now

Their name was the key to opening them up

They have faces

Over time they disguise themselves

Faces can tell a lot

But a friend wants to be able to

Include sound to spill emotions

Telephone works better than silent video

Software recognizes face and voice

It translates speech to text or to commands

Computers in pencils correlate student’s notes

With the audio of the professor’s voice

Talk to programs faceless (so far)

Or to humans on face-book or video

See the earth from orbit

Your abode from different views

The computer is a brain extension

For memory storage communication

We are part of the world brain

(Accessible by voice for less reading)

Has Big Brother spread or caught

Knowledge viruses from the web

Broadcast with evil or good intent?

Too many media police watching you?

Are they changing A.D. to A.I.?

Expert systems can guide the Media-ocracy

The battleground is communication

Design babies can be DNA’d to accept the message

Will octuplet youngsters tweet on twitter?

Either get together or order frozen embryos?

Part of that is slightly late for my generation

Unless I had something like a feel-o-vision suit

Where are my hearing aids?

Can YOU hear ME now?

Umm… What’s your name?

God. is that really your face?


The door … opened …slowly

Father came in

I was four years old

Got a ride on his shoulders

The door … opened …slowly

Father came in.

I was six years old

He showed me how to do chess openings

I won with the opening checkmate he showed me

The door … opened …slowl

Father came in

I was eight years old

He explained Santa’s spirit was all around at Christmas

And that is real after all

The door … opened …slowly

Father came in.

I was sixteen years old

He told me I would be best as a lawyer or as an engineer

The door … opened …slowly

Father came in

I was eighteen years old

He told me he had a friend who became a doctor

And therefore was able to marry one of the wealthiest women

The door…opened…slowly

Father came in

I was twenty five years old

He said, “Put your money in things YOU think have a future”

The door … opened …slowly

I…came in

Was fifty years old

We started a game of chess

I won with the opening checkmate he had shown me

The my mind…opens … slowly

Father …taught me…slowly

By letting me win

Increasing the challenge …slowly

Stretching my perseverance with each win

Eventually he would sprinkle some losses in

This was a help in my life

The door.. to my husbandry… opens slowly

To daughter and wife chess was an enjoyment.

I played them and would take wins there too quickly

That door closed and I don’t know how to open it


Guilty of coasting, ignoring reality

And falling from the grace of higher education

Lying dead in a possible career path

No future in sight

The easy life was gone

Trapped in the purgatory of the Army

Perhaps Jesus would show me stepping stones

I prayed

Then the Army let me finish college and some grad school while I was serving them

I landed a lucrative job that paid more than professors or generals.

Enough to retire modestly

I coasted, ignored opportunities, made mistakes

Broke the habit of praying

Fell a second time into near poverty

I prayed

I was saved the second time by a figurative Angel from Heaven

Who, along with the GI bill, helped me

Get three masters degrees, a modest success and a small family

Now I am coasting again

Could I play the role of Lazarus a third time?

I have been ungrateful

Should Jesus be my friend when he does miracles for me

and I pray only when times are bad

I passed up more opportunities than most people get in a lifetime

Am now frozen in indecision

I know I was supposed to do things for the world

But I have less time left and low resources

I need to “resurrect” the opportunity

God and Jesus know how I feel when I pray

It’s up to them


On and off I lived with Grandma

Had sugar sandwiches and sweet pickled cucumbers

A few times slept on her bed

She would always call me her little professor

On the way home from Sunday school

Stopped off to see her with my bible

She knew I told the truth with her

Gramma said, “When I’m in Heaven

I’ll be looking down watching you”

Before Grandma died Aunt Ada told me

“I’ve been telling her that you’re a professor

So please go along with that”

When Grandma asked me I told her

“No, but I’m making much more than a professor”

Sorry Grandma, sorry Aunt Ada

Later I went for a Doctorate in Business Administration

But didn’t complete it

Sorry Grandma

Was a Witter Critter in San Marino

(Dean Witter is now part of Morgan Stanley)

Apparently marketing securities was not my bag

Sorry Grandma

Later after retiring from Aerospace

I didn’t get that job teaching calculus at PCC

Sorry Grandma

At Seventy One I’m a Substitute Teacher at LAUSD

Sorry Grandma

Maybe my daughter will be a professor

If she doesn’t get married first


I carry you with me

As we are joined

I dream of Yosemite

With the light brown bear…

Waking us, out in

Our sleeping bags

Us down the river on

Air mattresses

You are with me

San Francisco

“Dance your ass off”

Mark Hopkins or the “Y”

You are with me

As I re-travel

Eurail pass

Sex on the ferry boat

Almost missed at the Lourve

You are with me

Or my old stomping grounds

Where we lived, relatives

Church pews, libraries

You are with me

Back stage, dancing,

Poetry, your office

Seeing you those times

on TV and in movies

You are with me

Our college classes together

The parenting of a genius daughter

Now so far away

You are with me

When I walk alone

At night or day

When I am alone at home

I carry you with me, forever

When I walk alone

At night or day

When I am alone at home

I carry you with me, forever


How did I come here?

Or was it a dream?

I did appear

Or so it would seem

Inside the car with my impressive companion

Outside the car must have been time travel -- Fast!

Was there anything outside the windows?

I saw green lights and street signs go past

Did I drive or did we fly?

I did see a beautiful sky go by

But my mind was not on the car

My companion traveled me afar

A dream through life

With my wife


To make it through the day

At home I have an electric heater

She warms my life in every way

She’s so good you can’t beat her

She knows when my power is low

She’s also an electric meter

She charges me up so I can go

I always say, “I love you.” when I greet her

Ever since so long ago

I was so happy to meet her


What do I write?

Checks, Credit card slips, crossword letters

My name on the board, brief reports about work

Who would read those?

But my messages for the world are lost

In the Internet ocean and media swamp

Should I warp myself to sound bites in debates

When warped ideas control the mike?

Screened by Nielsen, viewership, advertisers, ownership

Sensationalism and attention span limits

The current topic is deemed “newsworthy”

And is given the right of way

Entertainment, news and hypnosis have a lot in common

Public opinion is herded like sheep

By two teams of smiling sheepdogs

Where each calls the other team wolves

This breeds split opinion

Which breeds controversy

Which brings in politics

Which brings in money

Oops, I don’t have money!

How can I broadcast my simple ideas?

I’m not trying to write a book

I’m not trying to write a bible

But my truths disappear in a sea of blogs

A local paper might help

If we’re in the same choir

When major media is the battleground

What they want to hear is what I need to write

A timely, sensational, controversial, and entertaining book

To a large segment of society’s delight.

That’s tough to do with my ideas

But that’s what I should write. Right?


Should we call it MEDIOCRACY?




Takes over the republic

And the democracy

Monopolies in the

Flow of information

Worse than oil

Flow in this here nation

Do we realize that

The power of the press

Can usually out-bat

The power of the prez?

And who is who controlling

Pen, mike, camera and election?

But who would advertise it

As they want power and extension?

All of us media zombies think

We can handle ninety-nine percent

But they still spread knowledge viruses

With evil or good intent

High schools, churches and colleges

Are part of media hypnosis

Movies, TV, the net, and books

Is Poetry in this psychosis?


One of the richest experiences I have shared with Pauli and Dick is our collaborations as Poets on Site. Last year we travelet to Sunset Beach, to the Anderson Gallery. Dick, Pauli and I viewed the same painting by Milford Zornes, Greenland and we all wrote our impressions:

Milford Zornes, Greenland,1954, oil painting

Richard Dutton

sun almost gone
mother earth's rising body
obscures horizon
moon above icebergs
families floating on rippling water
with white shawls overhead

Pauli Dutton

snow moon overhead
crystal frosted crowns
float on rickrack sea

Kathabela Wilson

thousand peaked origami cathedrals
tents shimmering with glacial glow of veiled inner moons
one has escaped—our moon innocently knowing
what it was and what is hidden like a word
oh white Greenland of our unconsciousness

One of the delights of Poets on Site is the deep sharing of experience and the presentation of our individual, insightful, simultaneous impressions. A wonderful bonding and heightening of artistic visions.

Poets on Site at the Anderson Gallery: PAULI and RICHAD DUTTON 2nd and 3rd from right. In photo, left to right: poets Mira Mataric, Sharon hawley, Kath Abela Wilson, artist Bill Anderson, Deborah P Kolodji, Richard Dutton, Pauli Dutton, and Wendy Wright.

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