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Poetically Yours - Stop the violence

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Luis Villasmil / unsplash.com
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Man in the shadows

Welcome to Poetically Yours. This segment highlights poets from northern Illinois. Today’s episode features Carol Obertubbesing.

Obertubbesing grew up in Union City, New Jersey and saw the New York skyline every day of her life until she left. In 1969, she became part of the first coed class at Princeton University. She said that was the defining event of her life.

The Princeton Alumni Weekly published an article she wrote about her experience as one of the first women to attend Princeton. She returned to Princeton almost every year for reunions and other events and now serves as Regional Vice President for the Class of 1973. In 2019, she organized a national conference held in Chicago to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Undergraduate Coeducation at Princeton. Last year, the University gave her the Distinguished Service to Princeton Award.

Obertubbesing has served on the Board of Woodstock Folk Festival since 1993 and has organized the festival’s virtual performances for the past two years.

She’s worked in public tv and radio. She was the director of Outreach at WGBH, and at PBS she was the associate director of the Elementary and Secondary Service. She said she is an avid listener of public radio.

Today’s poem is a response to the acts of violence taking place in the world today. She calls it her response to the daily news. The title is “A Call for Peace.”

A woman stands beside her silver Chevy on a quiet street

Reaching into her purse to retrieve her keys

Suddenly, you jump from the shadows behind her

Pushing her to the ground, you speed away

Don’t you see she is the doctor who birthed you?

The man slowly climbs the stairs to the platform

Heading home from a long, hard day at work

Suddenly, you jump the fare box behind him

Pushing him onto the tracks

Don’t you see he was the neighbor who caught you when you fell from the tree?

The grandmother reads quietly before going to sleep

Seeking an escape from the cancer she faces

Suddenly, you break through the front door

Ending what had been a peaceful, giving life

Don’t you see she is the woman who taught you to draw at school?

The student returns home after gender-confirming surgery

Learning how to live with a new identity

Suddenly, you appear in the vestibule

Beating them until they breathe no more

Don’t you see that was your best friend in kindergarten?

The refugee leaves a burning home

Hurrying toward the border with only a backpack

Suddenly, your troops attack the theater where she sheltered

Killing her and the child within her body

Don’t you see that war destroys all that gives us life?

Why don’t you see?

What monster lurks inside you?

Don’t you see that hate destroys the hated AND the hater?

Can’t you see that we are connected through our common humanity?

Turn from darkness to light while there is still time.

And we who see the crime

Turning away and losing hope

Must continue to bear witness and speak out

Not letting the boot of hate kill the flowers

But embracing, teaching, and living love

Yvonne covers artistic, cultural, and spiritual expressions in the COVID-19 era. This could include how members of community cultural groups are finding creative and innovative ways to enrich their personal lives through these expressions individually and within the context of their larger communities. Boose is a recent graduate of the Illinois Media School and returns to journalism after a career in the corporate world.