Poems from Dawn Cunningham



I’ve been eating honey right from the spoon

-- Marie Ponsot

after Marie Ponsot

after (as she, as her, as female, remembers)

bees hum & swarm to collect pollen & local smells,

honey hums the air full like cicadas

and, having hummed clean

gorgeous blooms aroma

sweet language of wild

taste does fill the tea mug

uncoupled of love; it stings

the want to sing a language

from ancient Egypt of knowing

how to speak bee. Such honey

expands as if a gold pot

color all from the rainbow and sun

stores much more than thirst to enrich,

engulf the tongue of drinker

till it enacts a need

as it calls out:


TAKE (as she asks her

who of the beekeepers speak

who tongues my gold).




Ghostwritten

after Marie Ponsot

She in the line of names

I say the name called


Still now her ears do not react.

Always, she is ghostwritten.

Keeper, negotiator, overridden

Actions of body and mind,

Words from another’s voice

Through her gums to form her,

Replace inner sanctuary of self

I know her birth name is

The original name.

She has loss the choice of framework

To narcotic people

dances without eyes to

her multiple tongues

talk their roach motel.


Sensitive, passionate, nonconfrontational with others:

Peacekeeper, she is always ghostwritten

What she does of what she doesn’t want.




Ghostwriting the Her in Me

Becoming self in herself is written

By nightlight, the lamp between

Bed and desk over an IBM

Where words dismantle the day

And create dreams to sleep while awake.

After midnight the living begins,

What she knows she is:

her, her dancing in the hall with a prince

her, her slipping in silk writing the rain-

bow, she writes herself, names

the items to do:

dip the ocean into a bowl of knowing,

scone the moon over daylight,

create a satin ring for Saturn,

hush the thirst of want.

She finally sees what others see, what they see she means:

Only the pleasure she gives them

So decisive there is no her.


Is this how she comes to know herself?


As the her vanishes by rewriting the ghostwritten

The chaste voices rip her into multiple

Years of words not of her own.


Not vanquished by morning

HER words paginate the voice.




About Dawn Cunningham

Dawn Cunningham writes to explore herself, a situation, others ideas, and to find truth. Her writing comes out of the joy of oral storytelling taught to her by Gran’ma Ginny through the Native American tradition. Writing is her sanity. Recent publications are Confluence, Healing Words: A Journey Through the Ladder UPP, Poetry Quarterly, and an upcoming publication in Storylandia, The Beasthood.


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