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Chris Ogden

Mos Eisley Sestina

‘You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy…’

Obi-Wan Kenobi, Episode IV

Episode IV: A New Hope

That first John Williams flourish gives Star Wars the force

of nature: da-dah-dadada-DAAAA-dah! God, George, no

one of us could forget that ocean of wrecked lights, two

Tatooine suns, the Death Star run, how Han outshot

Greedo! Still we’re the drunks in the Mos Eisley bar,

each spectacle our liquor, hip idol, firebrand of mind.

Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Which film’s cooler than Empire, that most dazzling of mind

tricks? Only you could muster little Yoda’s X-Wing force,

AT-ATs staggering over snow as if leaving a Tyneside bar!

It’s the warm guts inside a tauntaun, an inviting Pernod

drifting us through the clouds to that windy Vader shot…

That’s impossible! Luke said. Repeat this? But you had to.

Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

So you did. And Jedi very nearly filled the sarlacc too,

a faultless three course meal. Oh, George, never mind

the Ewoks, but you gave the forest your best shot:

a lush and refreshing mojito! The Emperor’s Force

lightning is suspect, and the ending’s sentimental. No

matter: side effects of the 80s. You still raised the bar.

Episode I: The Phantom Menace

But how can we measure the wack sadness of Jar Jar,

commodity flap-clown, outcast designed to appeal to

six year olds? We understand why you couldn’t say no,

George (after all, there’s a new generation to be mined

with pod racers, slick CGI); still, cruel to turn the Force

into a cold science that fizzes in kids like an alcopop shot.

Episode II: Attack of the Clones

Here’s where it starts to fall flat like a night out in Aldershot,

cellar-kept cask beer, God Save The Queen after a single bar…

Politics can be action if you want it; you don’t have to force

Yoda to do backflips or surprise rocket boosters inside R2.

The dialogue for Anakin… What went through your mind?

You might as well have dressed a block of wood in chinos.

Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

But that’s nothing to making the new Vader cry NOOOOO!

right at the end, a stinging tequila slammer, memories shot

to bits before that… This man crushes throats, with his mind,

and you made him cry: the series’ main villain utterly FUBAR!

So what if the rest of it’s OK? No, this has to stop: you’re too

far gone, getting lost to the perilous dark side of the Force…

You’re a wino, George. All this grandeur’s addling your mind.

We own this establishment now. Sorry, we have to get shot

of you: you’re barred. Leave, please; we don’t want to use force…






Waiting for Robbo

for Rob Brown


You think that you find yourself here out of politeness,

waiting for a friend at a riverside pub table, no guess

as to when he’ll arrive. Nursing your pint of Guinness,

the man next to you (ex-serviceman, trousers pressed,

with a moustache, cigar-thick, that screams fustiness)

wants to start a conversation. Hesitantly, you express

your agreement, then realise too late; he’s obsessed

with deadlock battles: the Pig War, Cold War, chess.

You try to gaze away into the river’s evening laziness

to break things off, but then someone starts to press

the first few piano keys of Rachmaninov’s Elegie Es-

moll on one of the moored boats. The tune depresses

you unusually. Then, in your moment of weakness,

he suggests another pint before you go. You say Yes.







A Match of the Day Pundit Is Visited By Gianni Brera

Now all that remains is a normalised football…

Del Buono


Let’s not tiptoe round the fire, friend: no bolt on the door

would have stopped me getting in, showing you the score

of all my grievances. You can try for the scruff of my neck,

but it’s no longer made for grabbing; neither is that lock

in this three-quarter dark. You’re not going to find flight.

Don’t stammer Why in the window’s slivered moonlight,

sing, carry the cross… Come, Alan! At the end of the day,

you recognise a forward, a wolf circumscribing its prey

when you see it. Show me what power and passion are for,

little priest: not that words matter much for you anymore…









Saturday at Three

There’s no coincidence in our blood running Red,

son, Red as my old man’s, as his… So mine’ll stay

till they put me in my box… To Rhys, these words

rise again silent and smoky during a passing lull

in the derby, one where the ball can only float,

pendulous, between the aching legs and heads

of either side, no-one courageous or committal

enough to claim it. His concentration deferred,

Rhys listens to the crowd gradually turn mute

the way his father would reach for the remote

after conceding and choose to burn in silence

alone on the settee, his face brutal, intricate

with capillaries. He’d lament his wasted day

of hightailing from scraps, Saturday at three,

a time which struck Rhys as worthy an ideal

as any as he glances to the side of the pitch

where he interred Dad’s urn, the hoarding

with its cheery fidgeting, before drawing

a deep breath to focus on his playing field,

some small heir to the long blaze of destiny.



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