I.
Blinding aluminum opens and closes,
Calloused feet scrape the linoleum floor,
My buzzing gaze fixes on five upturned noses,
They can’t hear your pleading, their faces morose.

Ignored, yet outstretched, my hand is hurled back.
Crashes buckle the floor into puzzles of cracks.
Black rubber bites and hot metal burns,
Bones grind, heads clash, in a thick human pulp.

The train car abruptly dissolves into dust.
Egg yolk yellow seats around me revolve,
Dancing in paints of cobalt and coral,
Filling the silver coffin with rust.

The plastic beneath succumbs to my nails,
As, with each moment, I fly from the rails.
A whisper to no one, I utter “farewell”
As I puncture the grate between heaven and hell.

My body reflects in the noxious green Hudson,
As discs of fluorescence orbit my waist.
Currents of wind through my tangled locks comb,
Lips part to swallow briny sea foam,
As a phantom’s pale hands, on my breast interlaced,
Carry me to the celestial dome.

II.
Where eight frenzied, screaming wheels used to roll,
A tightrope of stars from the darkness emerges.
My ears catch the echoes of funeral dirges,
As my arched feet grasp the thin silver string.

When, the torso I cross, of the starry night sky
I heard huffing, and puffing, and scraping inside;
Old copper gears in need of an oil,
The Moon shifts His craters and luminous boils,
Spinning frantically ‘round like a dog chasing air,
He winks at me thrice with one teary eye.

“Dear weary traveler,” rasped the Moon, smirking
“I shepherd the dead each night by my rays
Most foul souls suffer eternal decay,
Yet the beggar’s unfruitful life of despair
Earned you enough to evade this cruel fate:
A decade of service to Night you must swear,
For the power to roam any world in exchange.”

“But what is my task as a servant of Night?
Must I haunt and pursue those who have wronged?”
The Moon chortled and spat while his copper gears groaned
“Steal a babe’s eyes, and its mouth, and its tongue,
Tear a pure mind from its swaddling cloth.
From an infant’s wood cradle, brew a thick broth
So my tarnished machine within is reborn.”

This task is your test. By the first rays of dawn,
You must finish your duty as my faithful slave.
Should you fail to comply, and choose to be brave,
Your promise of freedom is eternally gone.”

Without much debate, I accepted the offer
And locking my freedom away in a coffer,
I saddled my plastic gold chariot seat
Soaring through clouds like an old Russian witch;
Who, riding her pestle while sweeping the sky,
Plucks stars from their perch, to hide in a bag.
A gliding lamplighter dimming the bright,
In the unsightly form of a hag.

III.

Palpable air waves and miasmic exhaust
Cement in unyielding walls I can’t cross;
I push through cobwebs of other’s sweet breath;
Seconds before escaping as frost.

Searching each window, I find nothing warm:
An old man reclines on his couch watching porn,
A middle-age pair mutely cut into dinner,
A girl pinches her side in front of a mirror.

My diaphanous form is trapped in swift eddies!
My forehead jams through a half-opened window.
Two sets of lungs inflate two bloated storm clouds
Another produces warm cotton tufts.

Perched on a plank of the rickety headboard,
I shadow the innocent, spoiled, and adored.
The breadth of his shoulders expands and contracts,
Heart plays and twirls in a faceted ribcage,
A newborn assaulted, alarmed, and engaged,
In a whirlpool of dreams sewing his world together.

The freezing night lulls untamable breath
His molten hands mirror a soft, boozy pulse.
Eyes chart the dark in their fleshy sockets.
My whole being stiffens as I reach in my pocket.

IV.
A cold shard of sky glints opalescent,
Projecting a prism on the child’s plump cheek.
Though my limbs and back are sturdily bent,
My body is shaking, my grip growing weak.

His eyes open at once and peruse with concern,
The starry blue void where a face used to be,
Rag doll hand grasp where eyes used to be,
Reaching inside where a heart used to beat.

Across me sheets rustle, I hear a soft groan.
The mother turns over, exhaling a moan.
Before more is revealed of my secret world,
I flutter away, disguised as a bird.

Settling to rest on a bench by the water,
I watch waves warp the city in streaks of red light
The stars, one by one, disappear in blue mist,
While the Moon winks at me with an ominous grin

I’ll never be saved by the clear morning bell.
Descending with speed, at spirits I bark.
From pillars of both earth and the sky I fell.
I loathe that my soul will not rise from the dark.

Claudia Shaldervan is a freshman majoring in Fine Arts at the School of Visual Arts. “I began writing during my high school sophomore year while on exchange in Germany. Incessantly writing poetry, I experimented with creating grotesque and bizarre images associated with the “violent forces of change raging inside me,” and a delusional limitlessness of power I thought I possessed as an independent teenager. Breathing the ever-present scent of youthful opportunity perfuming Freiburg, stamping my territorial graffiti on deserted midnight streets, and spending evenings chain smoking, fueled all of my creations. I feared others (no matter how well they knew me), and deeply enjoy the struggle of distilling ideas, balancing thoughts, and the gratification of successfully communicating these to others.”