Untitled by Sekeena J. Abdur-Rauf Rivers


After Van Gogh’s Woman Winding Yarn

Stationed over a worn defeated weaving table
her touch is firm, confident, rough and unyielding
mechanically rhythmical
always the same

The yarn taste the bitterness of aged fingers and the
rage of the hide the envelops her hands

She’s hymn-ning,
Quieting that spirit,
soothing her psyche
killing boss man

stale, damp earth
plain breath
cold darkness
no dawns

Sekeena J. Abdur-Rauf Rivers’s questions:

1) Does the line “killing boss man” make the poem less universal?  Meaning does it now restrict it to being understood by one group of women, like black women or migrant women, etc?  I would like it to be universal to address all women.

2) “Hymn-ning”.  At first I put humming, but that doesn’t  convey the essence of this woman.  A hymn is a spiritual tune with deep meaning.  But she is not reiligous in this context so she is hymn-ning, which is sort of like humming.

So, the question is…When is it ok, to sort of form new words in poetry?  Would you have understood what I intended without my explanation?

Reply directly to the poet Sekeena Rivers: sstriving2 (at) yahoo (dot) com


  1. Paulette Johnson  •  Dec 7, 2010 @7:44 pm

    Wonderful poem!

    Merry Christmas,
    Paulette Johnson

  2. Dina  •  May 22, 2013 @9:58 pm

    Question 1: Make it more universal. What else could she be killing? time, boredom, tedium, dreams of being more?

    Question 2: Hymn-ning was an excellent word choice.

    It is okay to form new words in poetry if the meaning is evident without an explanation. (Most people are familiar with hymns, so it is an easily understood idea). I would have understood it without the explanation. In fact, that one line stood out to me immediately.

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