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…
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.