Contest Winner

Congratulations, Juliette Givhan! Our winner of the Making Magic Poetry Contest and featured writer in “Wondrous World”!  

“Call Me Magic” was inspired by Marcus Wicker’s collection Silencer, specifically the poem “When I’m alone in my room sometimes I stare at the wall, & in the back of my mind I hear my conscience call” which uses the title as a through line to the first stanza. While reading Wicker’s poem, I kept returning to one idea: I have been called many things by many people (friend, student, love, menace) but I have rarely claimed a title for myself. “Call Me Magic” is my attempt to change that- a long overdue self-naming that I saw happening in Wicker’s work. My poem is a spill of who I see myself as, and a reminder to give myself more credit for managing the multitudes that come with the different parts of my identity. – Juliette Givhan

Juliette Givhan (she/they received an MFA from Oregon State University and writes predominantly about myths and memes. A lover of thicc cats, overpriced seasonal coffees, and out of vogue video games- she WILL make a scene for a breakfast bagel. Their recent work appears in McSweeny‘s, stellium literary magazine, and DEAR Poetry magazine.

See more on on Juliette’s website: https://givhanj00.wixsite.com/juliette-the-poet

Add a bit of whimsy to your week.

night dreams (Uma painting)

Imagined Hug

As I focus, I know. I call

New beginnings for me and overall.

Grow with me as you wish.

Desire pulls me one way now.

I do not yet know, but it is a vow

To a one or a thing of great value.

Alone, I felt a sweet hug just today,

From exactly whom I cannot say.

May it swell with moon energy.

Though I cannot see the arms,

I have felt the attractive charms,

Expecting now the physical to appear.

I felt him holding me in delight

Not knowing who he is this night,

Yet feeling his hope rising with mine.

So it is and shall always be.

What I seed comes to meet me.

This I expect and do also believe

Amber Eyes

I never heard chants or spells

But folks thought my Mama

And her grandmother were

Somehow queerer than other folk

In eastern North Carolina,

Including Mama’s amber eyes.

Mama was superstitious,

Attributed to her grandmother

Who had lived in their home,

Reported to be half Lumbee or

Cherokee Indian, though

It’s not showing up in my blood.

Mama went to the best local psychic,

Who had said that her amber eyes

Meant something special for her life,

Not to waste it. Given her problematic life,

I can only assume Mama ignored

The good psychic’s advice.

My eyes are now ocean blue-green,

Though formerly blue like sky.

Now they bubble with green and amber,

Changing with mood or colors I wear,

Unpredictably shifting, like the special

Blood of my ancestors.

Full Crow Moon

Moon glow on the wood floor

Lights my path to the bright

East windows. A nearly

Full Crow Moon, Sap Moon,Sugar Moon, Worm Moon, the last

Full moon of winter. No matterHow hard or mild the season,

Our ancestors named them all,

Called them by the common

Truth of their own days, the laws of

Life, of planting their blessed harvest

With hallowed richness.

End of winter hardship, start of

Spring and new beginnings

Are heralded by this moon.

New

Thoughts, different patterns, my own

Grateful open offering to the fertile

Spring Goddess; true rebirth after

Lenten chastity, lean and lonely

Life begins anew with this

Connecting moon. Ready now,

I accept proposals for interesting

New adventures. Come now,

All offers, and lead my own

Precious creative self to my next

Fully blooming gracious Garden.

New Moon Prayer

These things I plant

And these I know

Will move toward me

‘Ere a fortnight grow.

My heart is set;

My mind is sure.

All good things come

And shall endure.

The Light in me

Attracts the same.

All these good things

Shall know my name.

I feel this good

Rising in me now,

Though I know not when

Nor yet see how.

Grateful am I

Here in this place

And ever thankful

For Heaven’s Grace.

And so it is

And so it shall be.

Amen, amen and

Grace to me.

Exquisite Magick

For my holiday tree I bought a

Tiny silver ornament on a shiny

Silver chain, two gleaming pieces

Adorned with glass-diamond beads,

Both free-hanging on chains.

The little shining crown, with its

Bright ring of pretend gems,

Hangs on the lower of two

Separately extended chains.

Above it a gleaming silver heart

With a bold diamond center,

On its own links hangs

Just above the silvery crown.

If there is to be another Handsome prince in my life,

His heart is here enshrined.

In my crown-mind, joined with My diamond-heart, I hold that

Sacred space for him until

He finds his queen, and

Loves her for who she really is.

Beads of glass and a cheap

Silver crown no more,

We shall employ the pure and

Exquisite Magick that

Unites True Mates in love.

Pamela’s poems have been published in the Virginia Bards Central Review, Virginia Writers Club Journal, Wingless Dreamer (Tribute to Lord Byron), Poetry Society of Virginia Journal and also in an international collection titled “Childhood, Vol. 1,” published by The Poet Magazine. Her chapbook, “Renewal: Cultivating My Better Self,” received an Honorable Mention in a 2020 National Poetry Writing Month Contest. In 2019 Pamela won the Hampton Roads Writers Poetry Contest for her poem “Mrs. Creekmore’s May Peas,” about the mass shooting in Virginia Beach.

     Pamela’s career-based writing included contracted nonfiction, instructional design and manuals, developmental and copy editing, and online/print writing for her regional newspaper and internet gateway. Now retired, she’s harvesting 40 years of poetry, journals and travelogues to create new works—and fun!

Mental Health Awareness Month

Simply Because We are Human by KJ Joseph. Published by Wise Ink.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. My cohort/friend KJ Joseph reminded me of this a few weeks ago while on our coffee date. I hadn’t seen her in person for over a year because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Much had changed for both of us. We both birthed babies of different kinds. While she asked about my little girl, I was more curious about her book. In comparison, both were labors of love. KJ had by far the more prolonged work than I did.


I first met KJ through Augsburg University’s MFA program, and we bonded over much more than our love of writing. The topic we came back to many times was mental health. We both have clinical depression and talk openly about it. I remember reading chapters from KJ’s early drafts and loving the concept of her book. Soon her book turned into an award-winning screenplay; then, soon after graduation, the book was published by Wise Ink.


KJ takes her reader on a journey to break the stigma of mental illness. Much like the mission of Other Worldly Women Press, she aims to create a safe place to talk about an issue viewed as taboo. Being a young woman battling mental illness is hard enough; in addition, KJ takes us on her journey running track (competing against older boys). The movement throughout the book makes you feel like you’re running in her shoes.


I implore you to peek between the pages of “Simply Because We are Human,” a memoir by KJ Joseph. As we continue to breathe and live through the last few weeks of May, think about how to break the stigma of mental illness. Learn more about KJ Joseph here.

Happy New Year!

Welcome to 2021! We have lots of fun things coming up this year. To celebrate the New Year and our first birthday we’re gifting you a free printable moon phase calendar! Downloadable below.

If you follow the lunar cycles here are some important dates to remember.

January 28, 2021 Wolf Moon

February 27, 2021 Snow Moon

March 28, 2021 Worm Moon

April 26, 2021 Pink Moon

May 26, 2021 Flower Moon

June 24, 2021 Strawberry Moon

July 23, 2021 Buck Moon

August 22, 2021 Sturgeon Moon

September 20, 2021 Harvest Moon

October 20, 2021 Blood Moon

November 19, 2021 Frost Moon

December 18, 2021 Cold Moon

A Look Back- My Santa

Veterans Day is a federal holiday celebrated in the United States to celebrate members of our armed forces. For me it is a day to be thankful my father lived through the Vietnam War and the hell it caused his body. I have written many essays about what it means to be a veterans daughter. But, I wanted to share this one since the holidays are coming up.

I’m inspired by my father in many ways, not only because of our shared love for nonfiction books, but also because of his hard work advocating for veterans. He was able to give voice to those who where ignored and marginalized through his work in the Veterans Administration and volunteerism. Like him I wish to give a voice to those who are not heard.

This essay is just one of many memories I hold dear.

Santa

My Santa had a hook for a hand. He also smelt like stale cigarettes. I’ve only met my Santa once, and I’m convinced he was the real deal.

I don’t remember much about Christmas that strange year when Dad packed up his new wife and life to move west. Maybe the Christmas I met my Santa was even a year earlier than Dad’s departure. I had to be less than five, and still extremely clingy to my Dad.

My siblings were there too; however, it didn’t matter to me. I can only imagine they ran around and played with all the other kids in the Veterans Administration (VA) Syracuse, New York, hospital’s cafeteria. Most likely I clung closely to my father the way I always did before he moved. That was when we still lived on Humbert Avenue and my biological mom moved out. That house had a haunted coffee table. Dad made it before we were born, and one by one each child hurt themselves on the sharp edges so badly that it required multiple visits to the emergency room. Dad said he got tired of paying for the E.R. bills and burned the darn table.

That was before I knew my father had much worse scars than I did. That is why we were at the VA hospital celebrating Christmas. After being a patient, Dad decided to work for the VA trying to make a difference for veterans like himself. He brought us to a VA party that had the real Santa, he even had an authentic silver beard.

I remember smelling him, like I used to smell Dad and Opa. Pulling close for a hug and snuggling into safety. He smelled like old smokes, generic hand lotion, and sweat. He hugged me with his left arm, his big yellow teeth gleaming under the twinkling lights. I loved him even before he gave me a large stuffed polar bear with his silver hook hand. My little hands grabbed the bear and hugged it hard, if it were a live puppy, the head would have popped right off. I didn’t want to leave the real Santa.

When I asked dad years later about ‘the real’ Santa having a silver hand replacement hook he looked me in the eye unphased and said, “Maybe he did, maybe you are just thinking of Uncle Fred.” Ma is always a few words away trying to tell me with excitement, “You got Big Bear there!” Ma was my father’s secretary back then; she knows about my Santa too.

After that I never really believed Santa would come, no matter how hard my Ma and Dad tried. My sister and I only whispered about all the other fake Santas when we saw them at malls or on TV. We were no fools—we kept up the charade of belief for personal gain. I told my parents Santa was real well into my teen years, and so did my sister. What they didn’t know was my Santa was out there somewhere in a VA hospital.

Basic Essential Oils — Tools for your wellness tool box

There is no such thing as a cure all medicine, herb, oil, tonic, elixir, or whatever you call it. I have found in my practice of mindfulness essential oils are great tools. No need to spend a bunch of money on them either. One oil (one that you enjoy most) can be used throughout the day and night.

Ways to use your oils can very person to person. I like to put a drop in my palms and rub them together then deeply inhale when I’m in need of concentration. There are plenty of diffusers on the market to be used anywhere imaginable. However awesome the oils may be for a personal perk-up if you are in an office or shared home, make sure everyone is okay with oil being diffused. Even the best oils can cause reactions in certain individuals and pets. Always ask a doctor before using essential oils on children and those who are immune compromised.  

The aroma of oils can help ease tension, illness, and fatigue if used correctly. You don’t need to buy all the oils mentioned below. Here is a short list of oils I use and why.

Lemon- Lemon is a natural way to ease nausea. It can help you focus during meditation, and is more manageable for sensitive noses.

Lavender- Lavender is a big ingredient in natural sleep aids. My mother would mix it with water for a pillow spray to help us kids go to bed. Be aware there are a few different kinds of lavender. Before you buy a bottle make sure to smell a tester so you get the one you like best.

Tangerine-Tangerine is great for a gentle uplifting scent. Because of its sweet nature and pleasing aroma, it can be used in the office or worn to replace perfume.

Peppermint- Peppermint is known for its power to help headaches and ease tummy trouble. It can also be used on cold compresses to reduce inflammation. I make sure to buy organic peppermint oil that is approved for oral consumption. If I don’t have peppermint tea handy, one drop of oil will produce a similar drink. I also like to put a drop of peppermint on my floss and tooth brush for an extra clean sensation. 

Eucalyptus-Eucalyptus isn’t just for koalas! This oil packs a powerful punch for fighting colds and clearing out sinuses. Put a drop in a tissue to sniff through the day. Or, add a few drops to some plain Epsom salt to melt away.

Rosemary-Rosemary is like Ritalin of essential oils. One sniff will help clear the mind and help you get back to work. However, be aware this is a strong-smelling oil and people may notice it. I like mixing a drop with fragrance free lotion and applying the mixture sparingly to the back of my neck. Blends- Some blends I enjoy are rosemary/peppermint for foggy brain days, use blend in a diffuser. Whenever I get migraines or headaches, I’ll apply peppermint/lavender to cold compresses for pain management. For extra comfort on days my anxiety won’t stop I enjoy lemon/eucalyptus.

Boys of My Youth

The baby kicked me hard in the stomach as Trump said to the Proud Boys “Stand back, stand by.” Last night Trump acted the way no parent would ever want to see their child behave. Not only did Trump clearly show he is a white supremacist himself, he also showed what wealthy white men can get away with.       

I have no words to describe how angry I currently am with Trump and his supporters. Clearly, they do not see and feel the damage done by systematic injustice, the murder of black bodies, the rape of those who define themselves as female or queer, nor do they see the on going damage their lies cause.

I wrote this essay back in February, 2020. As the United States election heats up, I grow even more annoyed by the letters I received from editors of why they can’t publish this piece. The main reason is they don’t want to touch the hot topic of sexism in the world of Trump and his supporters. While I can’t touch on every reason, I could never support Trump this essay explains one of the big reasons: sexism.  

I hope my child will be born into a world that Trump is no longer a figurehead. No matter what I will teach my child that monsters like Trump are in fact real, and we must fight them. Whether it be through peaceful protest, writing essays, standing up to bullies, or stating creditable facts, we must fight the monsters.

Boys of My Youth

As I sit here writing it is February 7th, 2020 days ago Trump gave what my husband called a “bananas” state of the union address. I didn’t watch it, the speech was clearly designed to be reality T.V. designed by a puppet who clearly only has his rich, white, sexist, friends in mind. One Trump lover, a hate spewing human, was awarded the Medal of Honor. I was shocked that Nancy Pelosi didn’t just rip up the speech, I’m sure if she had a lighter, she would have torched the sucker. She reminded me what it meant to live with shameless little conservative white boys, like the ones I went to school with.

“You’d be a lot cooler if you didn’t talk,” said a chubby boy who sat in front of me during 7th grade English. It wasn’t the first time a boy tried to silence me, or tell me I wasn’t pretty, or even say that boys were always better at things than girls. These were the 1990s when my home was nowhere and two places at once. Living mainly in suburban Minnesota where children with money flaunted it, the rest of us got by. Otherwise I was left to my own devices most of the time in Upstate New York.

Boys in Minnesota shaped me. As a twelve-year-old, my crush was a boy named Corey, like me he played hockey and had a strong unibrow. He never spoke to me, even though I admired him from far away in classes. My boy-crazy friend Leah told me to ask him out. Leah giggled next to me, playing with her short blond hair; she was the only girl in the 7th grade to have boobs. A fact that boys noticed. I was still flat chested with a distain for bras. Leah dialed the number as I held the receiver playing with the curled cord.

“Hello,” his mom answered with a midwestern sound to her ‘O’.

“Can I talk to Corey?” Came out as a whisper.

“Yes, hon,” she said, along with shuffling sounds and Leah’s giggle we could heard, “Some little girl wants to talk to you.”

Leah took over as I felt my face flush with blood, the room seemed to spin.

“Hi, Corey?” Leah was braver than me, she spoke clearly. “It’s Leah, will you go out with Evelyn?”

“No,” was the only word that came out of his mouth. It seemed like he tried to lower his voice an octave. Then the distinct sound of a dial tone took over the connection.

The next school day boys seemed to look in my direction and laugh. Some of them would cover their little mouths and pretend to cough while saying things like “slut” or “whore.” I didn’t fully understand why. That day in gym class, we had to run a mile, which meant running around the school fields twice, a stupid activity that only the athletes liked. Although athletic, I preferred to sit out of gym class and hang out with Leah. Today was different though. I wanted to run, I wanted to beat the boys who were being so horrible. As we lined up to start the run, Tony, a bucked-tooth blond boy with a bowl cut said to me, “Why are your legs so pale? Do you even go outside?” His family went on cruises during vacations, in years to come his skin would turn cancerous from time in the sun. I said nothing and started running.

My goal was to beat Corey, who had his socks pulled up high and gym shorts long, only a slice of his skinny tween legs showed. Most of the run I was even with him, I kept my distance as the boys grouped together as they bounced along. At the end of the mile, I was tied with Corey to finish at the same time. Then from a scratchy little boy voice came the word “Slut!” distracting me as Corey finished before me.

Most of my school years, I faced those same boys, those jocks, who never talked to me, yet bullied me for no reason at all…other than being female. I found myself wondering what had become of such children; boys who always got what they wanted; spoiled “boys will be boys;” simple boys; such as the ones coining the term “Basic Bitch” since they see all women as the same; boys that wear their high school rings into their thirties since they could not hack it in college; boys who believe they hold power because what hangs between their legs; boys who still believe bitches can’t be smarter than them; boys who want to control women.

I sat in my living room on a sunny day, watching water trickle through my indoor fountain. The sparkling light bounced of my lush green plants as vanilla incense burned sweetness into the air. Zen vibrations may have been in the home, but they weren’t in the research I was doing.

Exploring digital trails left over the years by these simple boys I found my answers. Between prolife pictures posted on Facebook pages of them drinking cheap beer were either bragging posts or political support for Donald Trump. “What shitheads,” I said loud enough to make my slumbering cat stir. I found mugshots and court records for some of crimes such as rape, sexual assault, drug charges, fraud, and drunken driving. Mixed in were vintage hockey pictures curated by Minnesota State. A few wedding pictures were sprinkled into what I found; wives with dimples and crooked teeth under the arms of midwestern boys. The ones I grew up with.

The boys of my youth became intolerant men of today.

Making a Daily Ritual

In my last corporate role, my morning ritual was to be an office fairy. I’d get in early clean and fill the coffee carafe, start my essential oil diffuser, and play peaceful meditation music over my headphones. Only a few people (those who really mattered to me) said it helped them. However, most never noticed.

The truth is I didn’t do it just for them. I did it to help lighten a toxic atmosphere and help my mental wellbeing. Once I went solo on my career as a writer/editor/yoga instructor I found myself creating a new morning ritual at home. This one is very simple. On days warm enough I’ll sit on our three-season front porch and open the door to welcome the day. The cat, Harvey, runs to the door and looks out. I take time to breathe in the air, welcome whatever noise may occur, and greet the day. In cooler temperatures I take time to open the living room window curtains, start a diffuser, and hold Harvey as we look out into the world.

Daily rituals don’t have to be long and drawn out. They can be as simple as saying a mantra each morning before starting work. Rituals can even be as simple as saying a prayer, a gentle stretching routine while getting out of bed, or kissing your loved one first thing when you wake up.

Make your own ritual.

  1. Find the best time when you start your day. If you work nights this maybe in the evening. There are no true rules behind when you should practice your daily ritual, but I’ve found it is best to start the day off right.
  2. Think about what resonates with you. Such as a mantra to chant quietly or mentally, or a physical practice that helps you clear your mind. For me it is opening a door or curtains leaving the night behind me. For you it might be making a cup of tea or your morning shower.
  3. Make it easy. If you are like me you don’t have time for a lengthy morning ritual, no one needs to get stressed out over wellness. If the ritual takes more than a minute, it is too long.
  4. Practice your ritual every dang day…Even if you feel like you can’t.

Finding Connection with Tali Cohen Shabtai

Tali contacted me about a poem she wrote and translated into multiple languages about a topic in the forefront of my mind. Below is Tali’s work in multiple languages. She reminds us that we are all connected. -Evelyn

To George Floyd

There were abandoned eyes like a Jewish boy in the ghetto.

I write on behalf of all the helpless who suffer in present and throughout human history

From

Injustice and inequality even though they are

Free human being.

with no

Religion

Race

And sex.

-Tali Cohen Shabtai

Tali Cohen Shabtai translated by Dr

Eitan Medini 

Interracial war – in memory of George \ Tali Cohen Shabtai

What do you know ?

I am a jewess!

I came from a land of Uniforms- 

And you expect me to be able 

To fix a world of 

Hostile countries ?

I have absorbed Antisemitism racism 

And forced numerous time

To hug the name of a false 

Homeland  

In the diaspora

Or in the superpowers

For them taking over the maps

They have done very well

With huge population size

Where there aren’t many with the family name as mine

Carrying my nation’s flag 

And my father’s yarmulke .

What do you know about racism?

During history 

Women struggled

Rape and the sexual injuries 

Between the races.

Do you understand?

It’s a very well known War tactic

Conquers arrived to conquer nations

Brutalizing the women to prove their superiority.

Whether it be a black slave woman forced by white men during the black slavery since the early 17th century.

Or, Jews during the Holocaust 

When Jewish women were beaten by the “master race” in early 1933.

A common fate of black and Jews.

What do I know?

The murderer police officer 

Who played with the breathing 

Of George 

He wouldn’t commit suicide as Adolf Hitler did since his knee was more important to him

From end of time of a solitary living soul or of six millions 

Listen to me, I do know!

Guerra Interracial – en memoria de George 

Tali Cohen Shabtai 

Translated from English to Spanish by José Muchnik

(Translated from Hebrew to English by Eitan Medini)

¿Qué sabes?

¡Soy judía!

Vengo de una tierra de

Uniformes

¿Y esperas que yo pueda

Reparar un mundo de

Países hostiles?

Absorbí antisemitismo racismo

Y forzada numerosas veces

A abrazar un nombre falso

Patria

En la diáspora

O en los superpoderes

Los mapas para ellos

Han sido muy bien hechos 

Con enormes poblaciones

Donde

No hay muchos apellidos

Como el mío

Portando la bandera nacional

Y el yarmulke de mi padre.

¿Qué sabes del racismo?

Durante la historia

Un mal que las mujeres combatieron

Es la violación y las

Injurias sexuales.

Entre las razas.

¿Lo entiendes?

Es bien conocido

Táctica de guerra

Conquistadores llegaron para poseer naciones

Violando mujeres para demostrar superioridad.

Si una esclava negra fue forzada por hombres blancos en la negra esclavitud desde el siglo 17.

O durante el Holocausto

Cuando mujeres judías eran violadas por el “master race” 

Año 1933.

Un destino común de negros y judíos.

¿Qué sé? 

El oficial de policía asesino

Que jugó con la respiración

De George

No se suicidaría como Adolf Hitler porque su rodilla era más

Importante para él

Desde el final del tiempo de un alma viva solitaria o de seis millones

Escúchenme, yo sé. 

Tali Cohen Shabtai, es una poeta, nacida en Jerusalén, Israel. Comenzó a escribir poesía a los seis años, publicando sus impresiones en el periódico de la escuela, y cuando tenía quince años en una prestigiosa revista literaria de Israel (“Moznayim”). Ha escrito tres libros de poesía: Purple Diluted in a Black’s Thick, (bilingüe 2007), Protest (bilingüe 2012) y Nine Years Away From You (2018). Los poemas de Tali expresan el exilio espiritual y material, el exilio y su libertad paradojal son sus temas de estudio, su visión cosmopolita se manifiesta en sus escritos. Vivió en Oslo, Noruega y en los EE. UU. Destacada poeta con una lírica especial, “no se libra fácilmente, sino que está sujeta a sus propias reglas”.

Tali obtuvo su licenciatura en el “David Yellin College of Education”. Es miembro de la Asociación de Escritores Hebreos y de la Asociación de Escritores Israelíes en el estado de Israel. En 2014, Cohen Shabtai participó en un film documental noruego sobre la vida de los poetas llamados “The Last Bohemian” – “Den Siste Bohemien”, proyectada en el cine Escandinavo. Traducida a varios idiomas, en 2020, publicará en Noruega su cuarto libro de poesía. 

מלחמה בין-גזעית-לזכר ג’ורג’ \ טלי כהן שבתאי

מה אתה יודע?

אני יהודונת!

אני באה מארץ של 

מדים-

ואתה מצפה שאני אוכל לתקן

עולם של

ארצות יריבות?

ספגתי אנטישמיות

ספגתי גזענות

נאלצתי רבות הפעמים 

לאמץ שם של 

מולדת 

שיקרית בגולה

או במעצמות שהמפה

הטיבה 

עימן במלאי האוכלוסין

היכן

אין הרבה שם משפחה כשלי

הנושא את דגל

הלאום שלי

ושל הכיפה 

של אבי.

מה אתה יודע על גזענות?

במהלך ההיסטוריה

אחד 

מהעוולות עימם 

התמודדו הנשים הוא 

האונס והפגיעות המיניות בין הגזעים. 

אתה מבין?

זוהי טקטיקת מלחמה ידועה, כובשים מגיעים לעם הנכבש ואונסים את הנשים כדי להוכיח עליונות. 

בין אם שפחה שחורה הניכפתה על 

ידי גברים לבנים בעת העבדות של

השחורים 

החל מראשית המאה ה-17.

ובין אם בשואה בה נאנסו

נשים יהודיות על ידי “הגזע העליון” מתחילת שנת 1933.

מן המשותף לשחורים וליהודים.

מה אני יודעת?

השוטר הרוצח, ששיחק 

בנשימה 

של ג’ורג 

לא יתאבד כמו אדלוף היטלר

הלא,הברך שלו 

חשובה לו

יותר

מקץ הימים של נפש חיה אחת או

של שישה מיליון

תקשיב לי,אני יודעת.

Tali Cohen Shabtai, is a poet, she was born in Jerusalem, Israel. She began writing poetry at the age of six, she had been an excellent student of literature. She began her writings by publishing her impressions in the school’s newspaper. Frst of all she published her poetry in a prestigious literary magazine of Israel ‘Moznayim’ when she was fifteen years old.

Tali has written three poetry books: Purple Diluted in a Black’s Thick, (bilingual 2007), Protest (bilingual 2012) and Nine Years Away From You (2018).

Tali’s poems expresses spiritual and physical exile. She is studying her exile and freedom paradox, her cosmopolitan vision is very obvious in her writings. She lived some years in Oslo Norway and in the U.S.A. She is very prominent as a poet with a special lyric, “she doesn’t give herself easily, but subject to her own rules”.

Tali studied at the “David Yellin College of Education” for a bachelor’s degree. She is a member of the Hebrew Writers Association and the Israeli Writers Association in the state of Israel.

In 2014, Cohen Shabtai also participated in a Norwegian documentary about poets’ lives called “The Last Bohemian”- “Den Siste Bohemien”,and screened in the cinema in Scandinavia. By 2020, her fourth book of poetry will be published which will also be published in Norway. Her literary works have been translated into many languages as well.

Ugly Truths

I have love/hate feelings about online advertisements. Specifically, on social media (I’m a sucker for Instagram advertisements). As a middle-class woman in her mid-thirties companies know I’m in the position to buy items that seem attractive to me. In my last job (online marketing) I used demographics, deceptive language, and creativity to sell products for a failing home shopping channel. At first working with the beauty/health items was fun. I had many moments where I’d be holding an item and say, “Who would buy this?”

The answer is me. I’m the kind of person who buys magnetic eyelashes, a skincare vacuum to suck the dead skin away, and products that tend to break quickly. Advertisers know this about me. I have a high enough education to know better, but the money burning through my pocket.

Yesterday as I mindlessly scrolled through Instagram a video came up on my feed. It was of a long-haired woman in flowing clothing holding a large circular toilet seat made out of wood. The wood was smooth and unfinished with a flower design burned into it. I paused: my algorithms picked up that I like alternative medicine long ago. But, toilet seats? My eyes quickly scanned the video description. Two words caught my eyes yoni steaming.

I’d never heard of yoni steaming, nor could I believe my eyes. During my time working at the television channel I’d worked with sexual health products. I had the idea to write warnings on all the vaginal sprays that contained perfumes. Unless a physician needs you to use an item vaginally things like sprays and suppositories or healing remedies should not be placed inside a human body. Sometimes even sexual lubrications can cause infections.

I texted my friend who is an acupuncturist and healer if she had heard of the practice. “Is it safe?” I asked. She quickly responded, “Yes. It seems safe. I don’t believe all the claims are true.” My brain went to all the products I had to market that also seemed safe. All the guilt of tricking women into buying products that cause infections once again returned. The number of douches, powders, and devices to help women stay “clean” and “tight” is wrong.

 Women’s bodies are still not their own. Men are not controlled like we are. They are not told they are dirty for having a self-cleaning organ. Men do not have yeast infections from sex, men do not face discrimination for buying products like tampons and menstrual pads by being taxed for luxury items. Men are not told they are dirty because they have periods. Men are not ostracized because of a monthly cycle. In the marketing I had to do we looked at women as objects. They must smell good for their men, they must be tight for the man’s pleasure, they must be well groomed to be sexually attractive.

The beauty/health industry is making women sick by trying to control what a vagina must be. Women aren’t dirty naturally; we are human we sweat and have bacteria. In addition, you don’t have to have be born a woman to identify as one, trans women get the same messages cis ones do. They face even harsher judgment from mainstream society because our obsessions with the perfect vagina. How do we break free from archaic group think that people who identify as women are dirty? 

One of the first things I learned in my human physiology course was. When a child is born the baby has a higher number of antibodies because of traveling through the birth canal. All humans have bacteria the difference is the power to procreate those antibodies help babies. As women we should not feel forced into using products to alter our intimate parts. Because of the products we use our natural chemistry can be altered causing yeast infections, exposure to toxins, and UTIs. When I looked further into yoni steaming, I found a similar message that I used to give women. The ritual claimed that steaming your vagina will rejuvenate it, or make you tighter, maybe help you regain fertility, and the claims went on and on. Yikes!

Yoni steaming is the alternative medicines world of telling women they are unclean. The concept is purely ritual, it has been used centuries.  Herbs are placed in a bowl or basin to be burned and the woman either sits on a yoni seat or hovers above to let the steam enter her. This is another tradition where our bodies are controlled for the pleasure of men. I say this because during my research many of the claims were directed at pleasing men sexually. Other claims were to treat infections, help women get pregnant, and help clean out the vagina. All this is done with steam or smoke.

All these claims scare me. The truth is gynecologist aren’t sold on the benefits of yoni steaming since the ritual can cause infection, burns, and exposure to toxins (because herb blends are not regulated anything can be added to them). That pretty yoni seat isn’t as pretty to me now. Although many women may use the device without any harm the claims don’t add up.

 If we look at this on a larger scale the world of beauty and health can get away with murder (with ingredients and devices). Yet, based on advertisements we’d never know as consumers. I implore you as a consumer to not buy into the advertisements you see. Take time and use local library resources to research claims. I know marketers are trying to get your money; protect your dollars and body.

As women we are given so many messages about how to take care of ourselves. Advertisements aim at making you feel less than human and try to trick you into buying solutions. The truth is you are perfect just being you.