When The Buildings Cheered – Jay Goldberg

This video is included in the Works Created During the Lockdown Period exhibition, Nov. 7, 2020 – Sun. Jan. 17, 2021.

Here is the poem that Jay Goldberg wrote to accompany the video.


do you know i am terrible
i know, that i am terrible,

i would, i am, i would do anything
now that i am– stricken–
break anything as the spring does
ice it shatters
and you arise where the dream does perish
i think of you like warm air that travels
but you are most unknown to me
that is the gift

it is only natural, probably
i know as the hills do, mostly,
still covered in snow, still sleeping as the blossoms give way
in the empty pandemic city that you will escape or in your mind

would it be different if you were open, like one of these
of course, and you are open.

i was glad it was just your voice
that one thing, or if you were somewhere,
and i were there, your face or form.

just one thing, though this is surely
a care unbearable in my favorite way

am i thinking of you, or something else,
lifted in the light sky, this little state,
the neighbors, the town-folk we cannot see,
the land in its undertone of red, red as the berries
beneath the grey texture of trees, the melting creek
the mountains in their great blue are not familiar
as my mountains, but new.

many dreams of you
immersed by the faraway glow of your spirit,
or up-close, as it is
like you were here in the attic room.

I don't feel when I'm not outside. Felt the wild light of the sun descending/my being. The remnants of the birds' song, the run of the river, on and on. Lately, the house had been full. Her lost somewhere in the tall grass, her perfect face and form. The gold as the sun passed. I left. Who was our next guest? I'll remember this time fondly, she said. Here is everything but I'm looking outside. Here is also, the outside.

i was born in late november the day after the full moon and i was an infant when we lived in the house by the train tracks. i was raised in a boring rural place where i learned birdsongs and imaginings. i was then taken for my high school years closer to the outskirts of d.c. which was boring planned but well forested. i was quiet and felt familiar with language. i was internal and addicted to some things people find innocuous. i made some friends, i liked a girl but she liked me more. she passed away a few years later. i loved someone cruel, and was a ghost in a beautiful place by the hudson river. i was ambitious but secluded. i visited some continents and returned. i cried when i left the river. i made songs, and other things. i studied international law in the capital after being in new york at the nations. i did not like the capital and tried to escape. i had no home but spent my time befriending or creating tragic love affairs with strangers, and sleeping on couches. i couldn't last anywhere longer than a few days. i had many friends, and someone beloved. the world went on pause and i went to the woods.

nice to see you in the dream
no one was overcome here.
just like you, i get to be
no angel, but the way i open you up like a miracle
in the wood "look at me, knowing i've never been seen by anyone',
her saying the moment was breakable, me knowing
she meant it was holy,
holding that cup of tea in the next afternoon.
this it is too beautiful to be alive in: i could hear
the children loud lit by daylight birdsong and
at night the reflection running through
the stream, you love this water that takes
your secrets back to me so i can overlook them
thinking always of something else,
these lovers that come to me now, not knowing i hold nothing, these
buds that bloom in a snow that gives and melts,
revealing their red heads, to be touched in this ready color
i find as unconvincing
as always the perfect weather
as the storm that fails, and the brown, brown mountain
and when will we ever go back to the beginning,
that one indisputable thought
when i was but an idea, and believing in,
i felt a king on the lonesome earth
and to be free was to know no others
but now like the winter trees i give and bend
always surrendering some new feeling
saying, in the cool first movement of spring:
'yes, for you, anything right to me, i will do',
shivering this taste of living off the branches,
the green that will nearly erupt to carry us
into that dense fold of summer,
whose shadows i'll implore
until they carry me back through time on their narrow craft,
under the river we shall sail. i'll see you at the station there,
when we used to go to school, my dear river.
when we all vanish, i'll see you so soon.
take me from myself and i am,
in devotion, darker, nigh limitless.

the purgatory of a nice day
the infinite beach that encircles the small pond:
they are made of similar, kind gestures:
one come from providence, in the car,
and the boy with the dog, the ax, the canoe
his father who will walk on the logging trail, maybe build a shelter
in this junk universe he has created:
handy, the forks and golf poles and fire trucks and so forth,
the landed boats and wrecked cars,
electricity is some enemy, that part is true.
i cannot sleep well the night and wake to this
pale color- astonished-
(the bleeding out of the chipmunk's eyes, in the dog's mouth)-
that it seems neither night or day, but soon color drawn in
by the dawn as if summoned by the smoke of the past evening-
(this forever rowing against the waves made of a clearness that turns to black:
this is some unsound appreciation)-
foliage gains texture again
is this some longest day of summer?
blank hours illusory,
to want for not wanting, for sleep.
some posted letters to strangers, some
conversation. all these beautiful scenes, you knowif
only i were gone more
just for the purpose of then missing.

the day is long
the lake, wide. this shallow water:
you have come to see me/i hardly see you.
all day i expect rain; did you send
these pictures when we did not know each other
so i might keep them somewhere long enough for you be revealed, some treasure
or are lockets for strangers before the feeling comes?

remember when we talked only of others,
until i felt some dark tremor, a precursor to the rain that has already come?
i might go from room to room, hiding in some alcove i think as you pass by
so i can watch without expression
and look and look and look. i have, yes,
great neutrality towards you. you want to be like some great river i talk about?
she that is beyond love,
that river, the dear river,
and if i felt a grand indifference as she does towards me, towards you?

i can hardly eat or sleep these days/ in a way, neither can you: but soon you will make your bed again,
a cartoon blessing like the small rubber animals, their silhouettes in the sun turn serious.

you come into my house to seduce my friend?
please come into my house, seduce my friend
one day she will wear roses in her hair,
what will you wear
if you don't both escape this happy exposure–

have returned to the dock
yes, here now, i'll be your stranger
give you a bowl of rice and avocado
if you cry i will bear witness (and these heavens too)
when you cry, it begins to rain
the day that had darkened finally breaks.
i wish it broke so deep that the whole world came into being.

my life has not lately been such a terrible shame.
in this one regard only (always i had the storied light of
evening and the first foretelling of autumn that old home and
the unknown my lover the sky, where i like to
imagine i belong). as in, then my skin was formed i thought
of what i suffered through those hills,
i was deeply glad to know of something so immense.

once, yes, i walked through
that farmhouse dreaming and the dog howled through the night
and remember there are four staircases, but only one for the ghost)

yours is like a sculpture, i have great affinity
but also this fatal touch: you might think i am not terrible
(these vast rifts i think could be so kind),
but you too in this seemingly unbearable
i love to bear it, bear it all. relinquish anything,
but i do not have no spine. maybe it is brave
to forget yourself, deep tide of doubt,
maybe you come to the surface on the wave of some kind thought,
a return to you then/something true then.
if i didn't know to swim, i'd say
"all bodies rise to the surface, living or dead
most are not identifiable."
i will come out of this water glad to tease and shiveri
might live and die of myself (and so many stories)-
to me, you are:

i would spend some time in a room.
i would spend some time in a room.
i would spend some time in a room
and tell me you care about something other than i/it rained when you began to cry. i don't know you, i
cannot know you,
i am so intensely glad to know you,
to care, i know nothing. one day,
i might revisit you like a place
bringing gifts from faraway,
i might use your name.
would you forgive my dreams? after all,
i only have dreams.
i might take you up (only if you wereoften
i wish you would come to me- asking)
is every invitation a secret sacrifice burnt into the sweet smoke of the day as the lifted haze of this infinite
mourning, in your wake i will
surely take a walk.
don't comfort me, i feel as mild and abstruse
as the wind that blew the canoe back across the pond.
i would rather you have granted some
fiercer suffering simply so i might
hang it up and arrange the notes, we all need
something to do. i would commit myself
to anything so long as it was, beautiful.
i also cannot vindicate you, hold you up in any way
except to the light as settles across the smudged work of evening,
i hope you wake in the day knowing your own always,
that you slip into your own room, but someday come back out again
to stand alone looking at what beauty the world has offered us.


i’m losing my facility
some latent island or geography
out from me, given the ghost feeling

a place i could wander
from time to time
i think of you relinquishing
i may have some odd pauses
where that feeling lives so that you are not touched by it

space and or amends with her. in her many waverings
my worry i was not
long time sitting by the river
not wanting to move, leave the
like forested realms the banks along blue as sky water
i don't not appreciate this loss
probably a river runs

i can do little but write
i feel like that thing for the birds to eat
i am, i am
stoked in some gold flame as january light
remember that light?
christmas eve train, and the day after
a delight, estrangement
a windowless room, still happily
dreaming of some heartbreak:
how i wish it would come.

though my truest friend,
she will come to burn the rose at the door
and i will be even more unknown
never to be consoled
because she is the most precious thing.

i have no desire here.
i told you it was quick.
quicker still when you
took it as a gift,
but not the one i offered you.
i cannot shame the birds for flying north when it grows cold/
i too am full of disinterest
so much that i yearn after every one thing,
wanting to want for something,
making my room so plain,
i wish you had never come
i think sometimes you are watching me from your bed,
and never seeing me. otherwise,
you have fallen out of my mind. though i recall it thundered when you came
and you cried when it rained. now it rains,
for days in a row,
but i am concentrating on sleeping
for as long as i can. i will make some icing
to put on nothing except my fingers, and after i will
walk the town, starting out for the green
where if i lie looking at the mountains i hear
the soft trickle of the fountain,
pretending no one will disturb me here,
i can only hope i can be kind enough
to live and die alone.

hey i am wondering about the next thing and
no one raised under
solipsistic heat lamp
the chickens, the chickens,
really got to me i had a dream i called a number
but the greater washington area
we were looking at the good farm but i was so bored, wondering how to escape this body too near people
like a mind caught at the threshold unable to waft upwards and away on the rarer
cool summer breeze, between the green leaves
but today we took the path that ends in a "T" at the end of private lane
you know, tree-lined; we got called "ladies" i have no shoes
i have no pants. nina would be so proudhot
as baltimore got to tell an erstwhile crush "escape while you can,
that city's a trap for municipal men
and self described punks"
but when i woke i was in a room (room in an enclosed piece of sky the glass so loud) it was like
a house for rich people (i felt rich). let me tell you:
the clouds were so low
but then i arose again wrong world because i had fallen into the attic room
and could trace shadows on the walls like the ghost
touched my forehead and i think
i can't live in the enclosed spaces, cave-dwellers are okay in the crawl-space breathless. i'd rather vertigo
take me in some loose moment,
i said yes i'll buy the house with white walls and catskill view where we tied up the dog
and the cat drank, bathwater. maybe my memory shadow
got long by the river, even sending signs to dark
stranger, my forever,
i need some good mountains where i next go,


would i pick and give every flower to
is this surgery as bitter as imagined
which shadows to come and live a nice life in this city
tell it to some river

the lamps i swear everywhere
they speak in, off and on
long life as in long life to live
if i were never to see you again
sure, i'd till soil. do as you must
for everyone else but after
the cemetery in thunderstorm crying
you give me this red leaf to fold in my hand and lose later

you give me your disbelief: 'why am i here?'
though before and after you are like some child
you and your light freckles and the small curve eyelids and the white glow beneath skin
wide open

i do not like this room. always the tempest you,
and frayed lace curtains
and the city night i will see the distance between us
become greater. i can hardly sleep in this bed after you, can i?
i can hardly be someone to anyone i think
i would not
make my own bed
leave small tokens about the house
live in any real sense
i don't have it in me, simply
not as you do and is this what
keeps you, on the earth?
who would i
i want to give this space to,
here have this i am no blood
and i love you
i am hardly a dream i had one night ago
i am alone in this but i love you
i would take you anywhere and take off
your shoes until are ready
to, to, whatever you are ready
you must be powerful
more than me and my mountain.
this wind that never comes,
i am but forgetful. i am thinking only of a few years
i feel some terrible
light too incendiary for the rain.
when we go over there (the graves)
i will love you then too.

i’m sorry i bit my wrist
watched the man on fire and on fire
on the horse statue
soon i will venture there
like the lone man, diasporic
in the dripping buildings
i might also walk with a candle between my fingers
talk to children, lost
i might also go there, soulless, darkly
i might also find nothing there
still, conjure you
a universal you
just something to yearn for
make the days less blue

o, wound,
bright unbearable wound!
wound my wound
letting out
(my heart)

letting out
it was a long walk in the evening, morning
i can’t reconcile myself in constant company
i did try looking after you
all through that midnight blue
deep in the maine pools
i know your name
i have found another sacrifice
for nobody after all
wouldn’t you take me, call me untrue
as i go softly, for you
tell me my name when we meet again
your beauty few see
i won’t tell the city my name
i don’t want to distress you
i’ll miss you every hour on the dot
i care about you a lot
from this far-off land where i walk,
thinking i’m the only man.

(the heart)

the roses, unpicked, growing
yes, i long for you
there is nothing on my mind, this
bright long day, there is nothing
in this long day

we are all so soon alive:
i have this incredible hour
to lie in bed with nothing on
to one day call the relative gone
put on a black harley shirt shorts and no socks,
and your too-small sandals.

i know what it is in your bright dark eyes
that you are unbearably made of
as one of my own family
your open closed skin
the goodbye this kiss implies
i am mine alone

in this dreaming-of-autumn heat
to render the august streets
with the carelessness of the people in societal sleep
while somewhere still the lakes shallow are so blue in that summer night i see you still
before me, as the frogs in their ruckus mind,
and that sky we can see every star of: you know

that i dream of you, for i am another,
bloodless as you are blood,
cold and your body always warmer.
i feel the false freedom of absence,
knowing i was free before but had purpose with you,
and no reason without you except kindness
which could carry one through and beyond the world.

here is some simple language: still earthly,
as if in disguise, as if not knowing
your long passage, my still oblivion
i cannot forget you certainly but where would i put you
in this inhospitable, my alien world?
we meet between north and south ponds,
to build a house and dismantle
as traffic on the road; we meet between trains
i following this bliss of doing whatever seems
well for you, partings and unpartings,
in my heart so singular.

after the sacrifice of meall
my lovei
give you everything. even in ashes,
here i am.

sure, you love
alway driving me to the furthest point on the horizon
until what does the moon mean
when often you pretend to lack

what are you, courage
to look out for all others, for me
i in my also watchtower just looking for you
never thinking of my own back
except where falls the shadow
long evening now trying to do that for you through all these circles you take me in.

sure, part ways with me, "do whatever you want".
we can sit on those steps, or you can disappear
between tree branches
over the james, knowing all hearts will be broken
go!, for the right reasons, maybe it resonates.

or if you really were you could make your own
and love freely, in distance or closeness, overcome these bitter and oblong thoughts.
i don't mind space but i mind

what feels like a mean
self protection, this, simply because
i know you are not like that.

but another bird against the porch window,
against the mountain:
maybe i am seeing it all wrong
i think this is something that's haunted you for awhile on and off.

pulling away doesn't change
that i’m affected by it- somehow
(in this or that river)
by so doing you even have made it harder

for me to be peacefully alone by transferring this spectre onto me.
though i lie here
in peace, alone.

i feel as though i have lost a member of my family to some awful shame, i've cried about it and despaired
through the hours of every day.
you know, “i am yours to die”/ maybe now that i have said it i will remember peace
because i actually love you and want to be devoted to you in distance and in closeness.

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