Dan Knauss

Three Poems – Dan Knauss

Morning Pro Musica

Robert J. Lurtsema (1931–2000)

If you wandered up stateless in orogenous time
winding on footpaths through old Taghkanic marches —
where survey, treaty, and grant
never held what you might find
climbing what the world has heaped up for you —

If under pines by a pond at night you made camp,
in the morning mist and smolder the echo’s echo
would be ahead of you: loons returning to Manicknung.
You are in the cavity of his resonant woodland,
her sound-posts the soul to their chirp and patter,
songbirds crossfading into ancient airs and dances.

In a triumph of tent stakes and stays,
play pizzicato, four hands on a harpsichord
bouncing through the score, bergamask dancers
stomping out the vulgar bassline I love,
listened to as a child but know it now
as a thing that’s done. Sing us together
in time before we knew what we were doing was gone —
the clear-hearted music, the thumping kermess,
this morning’s fullness swelling our chests
as the strings pick up again.



Come through Taconic orogeny into Silurian time.
Cross Shawangunk, take trilobite, a sturgeon to ride.
Pass Hopewell and Halfmoon. Discover rough keels.
Find shale shards and doctrine slicing your heels.
Take fossil from boyhand. Lay it back in the crotch
of an old pussywillow. Let X mark the spot.
Uncover wet splinters, wood marker for grave.
A rabbit rats wounded that you could not save.
Touch blood in a box.
Follow her haunched spirit past echoing shot.
Rise it again in uncountable kittens.
Bring offerings of lamb’s ear and dandelion stems.
Feel heart lift with crocuses, taste dirt on your hands.
Earn nickel per weed, redeem quarter per can.
Meet friends at your fence yet they summer away.
Flyt rocks and black walnuts, in real wars and games.
Back azimuth from autumn, cross highway to canal.
Trace intercept lines to a bridge where she will
taunt you to time’s shallows. Lash one eye to tears. A
void nettles, write letters, say love, add years.



She never showed me a picture of Koblenz bombed flat
and people still in the streets. On walks above the Hudson,
down the lane to feed a horse, I remember her
cutting the apples, but I can only see Tarkovsky’s horses:
the one shot and shoved down stairs like a broken piano;
the other bathing in dust then prancing lightly away.
Dream or trauma, this is what we can give to children.
Even when she was tied up and fed electricity,
her painting and writing never stopped. She saw it was us
in the rubbished city. This gift or trick of sight
is from an old woman who paints everything in oil,
laying it on thick — even the light switches and toilet seats.
She’d rip out weed trees barehanded in her eighties;
maybe she imagined certain throats.


Dan Knauss is a wandering New Yorker currently in Edmonton, Alberta. His latest published work appears in Poets Acknowledge Indigenous Lands and People, Poets for Ukraine, and The University of Guam’s Storyboard: A Journal of Pacific Imagery.