Star Wars: The Phantom Confession

At last I will reveal myself to the internet. At last I shall have catharsis.” – Darth Me


The Phantom Menace premiered in theaters on May 19, 1999. I had just turned 12 two months before and I was ecstatic to see this new Star Wars film. You have to remember, in those days, Star Wars was a trilogy, a finished masterpiece in three volumes. It had been since 1983, four years before my birth. For my entire life, Star Wars was the best set of films there were for a nerd, young or old. It was “this colossus, this great legendary thing”.

A new film, a new trilogy, was announced. I scoured the young internet for news, images, clips, rumors and at dial-up speed, fuzzy jpegs revealed themselves for my viewing pleasure. Articles kept me fascinated. There wasn’t much being disseminated, remember, again, this was before Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and every other network. We had no smart phones, no texting, no social media. I remember reading articles in actual magazines and the newspaper about this new Star Wars film. I cut out pictures from pages and savored images of Qui-Gon Jinn, whom I mistook for Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Jake Lloyd and Ewan McGregor whom I thought were playing Anakin Skywalker. I also remember savoring images of the Naboo starfighter: graceful, sleek, and deadly. Much of my information also came from LEGO, who had just signed a deal with Lucasfilm to produce Star Wars branded and based Lego sets. Most of my early spoilers came from LEGO fan club magazines that depicted ships, characters, and locations in brick form. Pepsi had also made a marketing deal in which every can of every variety of soda featured a different character image with a printed backstory that you could collect. Even Taco Bell got in on the marketing with their stupid chihuahua.  It was all glorious and amazing and wonderful. I annoyed my family and friends silly because I would not stop talking about the new Star Wars film. It was to be the best thing EVER.

A few days, or weeks, I don’t remember exactly, into the premier my dad took myself and my brother to a Saturday afternoon showing of The Phantom Menace and I floated into the theater. I absorbed every sound, image, and musical cue with delight … except … except, something wasn’t quite right. Jar Jar Binks wasn’t funny, like he was supposed to be. There were fart jokes, in the middle of John William’s grand score even! Some bits blew my pre-teen mind – Darth Maul versus the Jedi – podracers roaring around Tatooine, but mostly it was boring with a shine and long with excitement. I didn’t realize it then, but every time thereafter that I saw it, my smile was less broad and the twinkle in my eye shrank. I remember visiting my grandfather, perhaps the next summer, and convincing him to Pay-Per-View rent The Phantom Menace. It was a day long thing, where you could watch it over and over again for 24 hours. I must have watched it 8 or 9 times that day. Over and over again. It was amazing! It was Star Wars! but it wasn’t quite the Star Wars I loved and had grown up with.

Truth is: I loved The Phantom Menace. Even with Jar Jar and the fart joke. In those early days, I couldn’t get enough of it. It wasn’t until 2002’s Attack of the Clones that I began to become disillusioned. 2005’s premier of Revenge of the Sith arrived and I was in college. It failed to end the new trilogy properly, but I had lost my love. Star Wars was nothing more than the Old Trilogy, as it was now known, and the new films were dead to me. I even spent time methodically watching Menace, Clones, and Sith and tearing them systematically apart on my blog (which you can still read under the Star Wars tab). I made a reputation among friends and a presence online by hating the prequels.

But. But. I did love Menace. I thought Clones had good parts. I figured Sith was mostly there. I don’t know when or why I let other people’s opinions and acidity eat through my heart of enjoyment. I like plenty of badly written movies that are chock full of bad performances and cheesy effects. So I suppose now we are here, at the end of my vitriol to admit a love I once held dear.

I haven’t watched the Prequel Trilogy in years, now, and I feel a strange urge and longing to do so. Maybe it is the 11 year old in me that collected Mountain Dew cans for their images of Yoda and Qui-Gon Jinn. Maybe it is the 12 year old that convinced my grandfather to let me spend a day watching a movie ad nauseam. Maybe it is the 13 year old that treasured old LEGO magazines and their pages of colorful LEGO Star Wars sets.

At least I am willing to admit it to myself, and now, the world that reads my blog: unabashed, unashamed, unfettered: I loved Star Wars The Phantom Menace a long time ago, and may yet love it. And that’s ok.

Embrace your famdoms, nerd out, rock on, love what you love. It makes you you and no one else. And that is the best thing ever.

Princess, Sister, General

I could never figure it out, and it isn’t really stated anywhere, so as a kid I never knew. Was Leia the elder Skywalker, or was Luke? I know they were retconned to twins sometime after Star Wars and before Return of the Jedi, but still, logically, one is older. Who was it? I was one of three boys in my family, complete and whole, until my sister came along six years later to upset the established order and complete us all. It wasn’t really until I was six or seven that I began to religiously watch the Star Wars saga, so in my mind I became Luke Skywalker and my new baby sister was Princess Leia.


My sister and I never played that way, that is, never acted out the Star Wars story together, but in my head I saw Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia as the twin sister I never had until I had a little sister, and then as my sister grew up to be a fierce, independent, wise, take-no-bullshit young woman she became Leia to my Luke.

We were raised differently, like Luke and Leia, as my parents doted on the only daughter, gave her her own room (where I had to share space with one or both of my brothers as conditions allowed), and in general lavished the favoritism upon her. I mean, of course my parents said they had no favorites, but really, three boys didn’t hold a candle my to parent’s little princess.

I never had my mind on where I was, or what I was doing, and was always craving excitement and adventure, like a certain young sand-locked farm boy, and my sister always knew what she wanted and how she wanted it and seemed to be driven in ways I wasn’t, like a certain young Senator from Alderaan.

I could stretch the metaphor and say that I like to wear black, and her white and interesting hair-dos but that would be stretching the truth as well. Suffice to say, we met late* in life and became a duo that learned to appreciate and love each other.

Now, as adults, past our “growing up” years, she is, as ever, driven, and I am wandering the galaxy in search of my own Force to guide me. She is the General: moving forward; I am the Jedi: mystically engaged with life’s triumphs and failures.

Given such a personal connection to the character of Leia Organa-Skywalker-Solo, I was deeply affected by the tragic death of Carrie Fisher last year. I had watched her all my life as she “grew up” as a character on Star Wars and I had followed her later life on social media. I always dreamed of going to a Star Wars celebration or ComicCon to meet her, and regret that I will now not have the chance to tell her what she meant to me. Like my sister, Fisher was feisty, funny, and familial. I am not the only one in the Star Wars community to view her as a surrogate-sister, and that was a role she embraced after a certain time. Certainly she was honest about her struggles with mental illness, substance abuse, and a dysfunctional family in a way that made me ok with my own depression and personal struggles.

I grew up knowing that women could be strong, resilient, heroic, steadfast, worthy, sexy, beautiful leaders and sisters and women all at the same time and that was because Carrie Fisher embodied that so well on screen and on the internet, and my sister was all those things and more in what I saw as a little mirror of Fisher.

It seemed at first a strange thing to be so sad at the death of a celebrity I had never met and who inhabited my star-struck fascination with Star Wars, but having come to this realization of what Carrie Fisher truly meant to me in such personal terms, it doesn’t seem strange at all anymore.

As I enter a world now robbed of Fisher, I embrace my sister all the more tightly and thank the Force that I was given such a wonderful gift and example of womanhood at such a young age, that despite not being twins, we grew to be very close, a closeness we share today.

Fisher is now one with the Force, and I have my sister to guide me always. I look forward to the next chapter in our Saga…


*If by being introduced when I was just 6 can be called “late” in life.


The Hope

I just left my local cinema, having seen Rogue One: A Star Wars Story for the second time and I loved it just as much the second viewing. This was the first Star Wars film not to be an official episode, that is, an installment in the saga of the Skywalker family, and thus is a stand-alone film, however, it flows into Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope so well it may as well be an extended prologue to that legacy film. If you wish to avoid spoilers, you can stop reading now. Otherwise…venture once again into that galaxy far, far away…


Rogue One begins without an opening crawl, which is a bit jarring, since that is the Star Wars to which we have grown accustomed. However, the beautiful shots of space and Director Krennic’s shuttle quickly take hold and the film is begun and it hardly seems to matter. Small title screens give the location at which each bit of action takes place, so the viewer is never lost in space, however, just a little context would have been welcome to begin the film. I admit that this is a small criticism.

The film follows the journey of young Jyn Erso, left abandoned by her family at a young age and raised by a Rebel zealot. She eventually becomes useful to the larger Rebel Alliance, and is asked to make contact with her surrogate father in order to authenticate a message from her real father. That message is true, and it seems the Empire has built a super weapon, code name: Death Star, that can destroy entire planets, however the elder Erso, a secret Rebel, built within it a fatal flaw that only a thorough examination of the technical plans will reveal. Those plans must be stolen from an Imperial archive at all costs to prevent the reign of terror the Emperor is eager to unleash.

The characters in this Star Wars story are compelling, real, and interesting, from Captain Andor, his sassy K-2S0 droid, and a rag-tag group of Rebel agents that include a semi-Force aware Guardian of the Whills. So diverse and different is this group that it is amazing that they even work together, much less pull off the greatest heist in the history of the Star Wars galaxy, but succeed they do. Sort of. I mean, they win the day, but they all die. Every last one of them.

That is part of what makes this film special. Not a single one of these characters is to be heard from again, so their fate is ambiguous from the very beginning. Darth Vader makes an off-hand remark as to their deaths in the Star Wars novelization, but in the films proper there is no mention as to the brave Rebels who stole the Death Star plans, just that they were “provided by Princess Leia” which is at once true and inaccurate. Therefore, the tension mounts for each and every one as their deaths are perhaps certain, but not predictable. How they die is as important as how they live, and is a culmination of their own personal journeys.

Darth Vader appears, as do several characters from A New Hope, and none unnecessarily. Half recast (James Earl Jones again provides the voice of Vader) the Sith Lord intimidates Krennic at a crucial point, also motivating him to fulfill his villainous role in the film. Vader also reappears at the end to mop up the Rebel fleet and almost reclaim the Death Star plans before a brave Rebel soldier is there to stop him from doing so. Much less than the absurd Yoda fight in Attack of the Clones, Vader here does fight, but in a controlled and subdued manner that doesn’t conflict with anything he is shown doing in the original trilogy in tone or manner. He is devastating and unstoppable both with lightsaber and the Force.

The other characters from A New Home are Red and Gold Leaders, resurrected via found film footage cleverly spliced into the Rogue One footage, and Governor Tarkin and Princess Leia herself.* Tarkin is brought to life via body-double CGI and while the uncanny valley is alive and well, the effect is successful as a cold and calculating villain to Director Krennic and the Rebel beyond. Leia appears in less than 30 seconds or so at the end in the same way, and as such is much less jarring. Only because we see Tarkin walk and talk and intimidate are we able to see through the digital facade and realize that what we are seeing isn’t real.

I appreciated the level of detail that was brought to this film, through hair and makeup, wardrobe and costuming, and set design to emulate the look of the original trilogy and the time period in which it was created. 70’s styling and color pallets are evident, as is practical effects work and location scouting to match or even duplicate locations from the first film. So many little details are there to be found and enjoyed, but my favorite is two ill-fated stormtroopers on Scarif talking about a new model of speeder that was released, nearly identical dialogue to two troopers on the Death Star when Kenobi is tinkering with the tractor beam that holds the Millennium Falcon hostage. At once a call-back, foreshadowing, and a simply fantastic bit of universe appropriate dialogue. (Those must have been some exciting speeders to get multiple troops excited.)

Lastly, the music is majestic, being the first score not composed by John Williams (done instead by Michael Giacchino) but quoting and referencing Williams’ scores when thematically necessary and sonically appropriate.

I completely enjoyed the spectacle that is a Star Wars space opera, a heist film, a war picture, and a hero’s journey all rolled into one. Existing as it does apart from and kin to the first ever Star Wars film makes Rogue One no less compelling or able to stand on its own.


*Two other characters from A New Hope appear, via creature makeup, and that is the twisted human and unintelligible alien that accost Luke Skywalker in a cantina on Tatooine only to be mutilated by Obi-Wan Kenobi. Fan service much? While Tarkin, Rebel pilots, and even Leia are important to the plot, these two are pure cameo. Nice, but why those two? It cracked me up, but also took me out of the story for a minute. Ultimate reaction: a shrug and a smile.

The Awakening

Palpable was the excitement of going to see Star Wars Epsiode I: The Phantom Menace in the spring of 1999. I distinctly remember riding in the back seat of my father’s car, driving along the highway towards our local theater. I remember sitting on the end seat, next to him, and my brother on the other side of my father as the lights of the theater dimmed and the opening crawl floated up the screen. Despite my high excitement, disappointment followed. I was twelve years old then, and had grown up watching the original Star Wars trilogy so many times that my first experience with Star Wars had long been forgotten. It seems I had always loved watching Star Wars.

It is now nearly the end of 2015, and with it a new era has been born. Unless you’ve been hiding out on Dagobah with a broken holonet receiver, you know that the sequel trilogy has been launched with Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. I’ve seen it twice now, once in regular old two dimensions, and once in IMAX 3D. If you want to stop reading now to avoid spoilers on the story, I will simply say this: it was better than the prequels and a true Star Wars film full of the space adventure and fantasy we’ve come to love from that galaxy far, far away…


What has made the Star Wars universe great and has allowed it to endure for generations are the iconic, memorable characters. From the beginning of The Force Awakens, we receive terrific new characters that I believe will live on in the zeitgeist of the world consciousness just as have the original characters from the original Star Wars.

Right away we are introduced to the first non-human character that will drive a large portion of the film as a Macguffin and that is the orange and white ball droid BB-8. Early on in the marketing and releases about The Force Awakens we saw BB-8 and I must admit I was less than impressed. I thought the robot was overly cute, and was attached to my nostalgia for R2-D2 and C-3P0. But from those first few moments on screen, BB-8 captured my attention in exactly the same way Artoo and Threepio did in the beginning of Star Wars. Moments later we meet Po Dameron, the heroic and dashing X-wing pilot and Kylo Ren, the angry, yet strangely compelling new Dark Lord. At this point, I got caught up in the story and the film, and wondered where these characters would take me. Again, early on, as these characters were revealed, I thought that Kylo Ren in particular was trying too hard to be the new Darth Vader, but seeing him on the big screen, as the story unfolded, I saw an angry, hurting young man trying desperately to live up to a legacy he admired, albeit for all the wrong reasons. As the film progressed we were introduced to the main characters, Rey and Finn the defecting stormtrooper. Rey is a simple human living in the literal shadow of a decades old galactic war, scavenging for survival and awaiting her future. Finn is rejecting the only life he has ever known and seeking a way to freedom. Both meet up, and the adventure really gets going as they steal a familiar piece of space garbage and outrace the new Empire: the First Order. Reintroducing the Millennium Falcon and previous owners Han Solo and Chewbacca was less a slavish devotion to past glories, but an acknowledgement of the age of the universe and the passage of time. Things move on from our lives and sometimes old friends return in unexpected ways. Later we meet Leia Organa, less princess and more general, and even she feels like a totally new character. She is no longer young and feisty, but now strong and resolute with the burning fervor of conviction and experience. I loved the thousand year old Maz and her little cantina on a backwater world, her unexpected wisdom and yet shadowy side as someone who hung out with the dregs and downcast. She was the dark mirror to Yoda, ancient and wise and somehow a young outlaw on the back edge of the galaxy. All of these new characters immediately became as interesting and compelling to me as the droid duo, Luke Skywalker, Ben Kenobi and Yoda, and Han Solo from Star Wars. I desperately wanted to know their stories and follow them on their adventures.

Secondly, the locations hearkened back, in a good way, to the the original trilogy. There was the desolate desert world of Jakku, the ice planet/superweapon of Starkiller Base, the forest world of Takodana, all mirroring Tatooine, Hoth, and Endor. This became a theme to the Force Awakens: revealing the new through the lens of the old. There was the Millennium Falcon given new life as the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy racing along the Jakku dunes and derelict Star Destroyers and the new planet destroying super weapon. Far from drudgingly repeating the past, the new Star Wars gave me quick tutorial in what I already loved, setting me up for something that I will never have imagined in Episodes VIII and IX.

Thirdly, there was plenty of new twists and further revelations of the galaxy far, far away, which is far more vast and old and lived in than I imagined. I loved the brief introduction to other smugglers and outlaws aboard Han’s new freighter, the rathtar beasts Han was transporting, again, hearkening back to Jabba’s den of despicable denizens and the rancor which lurked below. I loved the X-wing/TIE fighter battles, the exchanges of blaster fire, the familiar yet new First Order risen from the ashes of the Empire, Jedi mind tricks, and unexpected stormtrooper humor, no longer clones but real people fighting for a cause they believe in.

I thought the acting in this film was superb, and that is what ultimately won me over to the classic nature of the new Star Wars. Harrison Ford, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver all did fantastic work in breathing into their characters the breath of life. I believed all of them. But the real surprise was the reveal of Luke Skywalker at the end. Mark Hamill communicated so much without saying a single word that I was totally blown away. The shot lingered on his face as he turned to see Rey and what her outstretched arm held and I saw sorrow, pain, recognition, remembrance, resolution and so many more emotions in his eyes. He realized the fullness of what his failure to train Ben Solo had wrought on the galaxy, he acknowledged what his absence fostered in current events, he recognized his lightsaber, and with it the pain of his failure and loss against Darth Vader so long ago, and he made the choice to no longer look to the past but to rejoin the present in hope of a better future with Rey and the Resistance.

Finally, the death of Han Solo, which I completely expected to happen given Harrison Ford’s complicated relationship with the character, was still shocking and emotionally gutting. Here was everything that was awesome, funny, and beloved about the original trilogy being brutally murdered by its own offspring, the sequel trilogy, and the message was clear: despite the winks, the references, and the familiar, this is not your father’s Star Wars anymore. This is a new beast altogether and in the future, nothing is certain. Here the brilliance of Lawrence Kasdan’s writing and JJ Abrams’ direction was shown in full: this was the narrative being constructed below the cool space story above.

I know I just said finally, but I must shoutout to the stellar John Williams and his amazing score. If the special effects and characters are the body of Star Wars, Williams’ music is the soul. One of the greatest composers of our time, Williams brings the best of his genius to underscore every beat of the Force Awakens and I will enjoy his new music just as much as I have loved the original soundtracks.

The Force Awakens is not without it’s flaws, but for every seeming plot hole or convenient occurrence, I am reminded of similar aspects to the films I love: Star Wars, the Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi. The original trilogy succeeded on the spectacle, heroics, and characters we loved, not from perfect plotting or consistently complete logic. Star Wars is a space opera, a grand fantasy adventure among the stars, and should be loved as such.

Warrior Poet’s Way

It was cold this morning as I headed to Barnes and Noble, but it was a pleasant, autumn cold. I found a table and began writing. Halfway through my phone’s battery died, so I surreptitiously pulled a rhyming dictionary off the shelf and continued working. I managed to write three poems before the rozzers wanted their book back, but by then I was creatively spent anyway.

Today we have a ballade, not to be confused with a ballad, a rondeau and a rondel. The last two are French in origin. The ballade has a long a complicated rhyme scheme of ABABABBABA, and the final line of the stanza repeats as the final line of every stanza, followed by an envoi of four lines (again with that repeated line at the end). Usually they are written as to a prince, or patron, of the arts. Given my recent poetical adoration of pop culture, I have gone with a steady diet of Star Trek related themes in today’s poems. This first one hails from Kronos, the capital of the Klingon Empire.

Klingon War Ballade

Klingon Empire
Klingon Empire

My son, lift your bat’leth to the sky
the un-fought enemy is worst, I deem.
From cowardice and fear, fly!
Your Klingon brothers are your best team,
May you over the battlefield teem.
So let loose with battle cry!
To my advice there is but one theme:
Today is a good day to die!!

My son, raise your mek’leth high
and listen to this battle scheme:
A running man’s blade is never dry,
four thousand throats he may un-seam
in one night. He bathes in blood’s stream,
to his enemies he bids good-bye,
destroyed by disruptor beam.
Today is a good day to die!!

My son, strap a d’k tahg to your thigh,
and remember Sto-Vo-Kor‘s steam
awaits the warrior bold, so do not sigh.
Make your weapons shine and gleam,
build your battle regime:
Sharp knives are nothing without sharp eyes,
serve revenge cold for a taste supreme.
Today is a good day to die!!


Prince, Tonight may your blood scream.
Tonight, eat deep of the bloodwine pie.
Tonight of victories may you dream,
Tomorrow is a good day to die!!

I’ve added links into my poem to the unfamiliar words, so you dear reader can know what I am talking about. Mostly they are Klingon weapons, Sto-Vo-Kor is the Klingon heaven, and bloodwine is a traditional Klingon beverage. I’ve also adapted several Klingon adages into the poem such as “A running man can slit four thousand throats on one night” and “Revenge is a dish best served cold” and of course the refrain is perhaps the most popular Klingon battle cry of all time “Today is a good day to die!”. I’ve written the poem as from a Klingon father to his young son, perhaps just before bedtime.

Next up is a Rondeau which has a complicated rhyme scheme of RABBA AABR AABBAR. The last line of the last two stanzas comes from the first half of the first line. The most famous example of this form is “In Flander’s Fields”. In my attempt I have again mined Klingon culture.

A Klingon Warrior’s Song to his Foe

Share in death, my warrior bold
Revenge is a dish best served cold
Fight to the end, do not a coward be
My mek’leth you’ll never see
You will not age, never grow old

Your life is forfeit, your fortune sold
You’ve nothing left, no sword to hold
Do not hide, stand straight and free,
Share in death.

When this battle, the end is told,
I’ll be heaped, be buried in gold
No, I will not, cannot hear your plea
Mercy will not come, I’ll not save thee
No grave you’ll have, only this wold
Share in death.

This poem turns on the old Klingon proverb that “Death is an experience best shared”. Next up is a rondel, which repeats the first two lines of the poem in the middle and again at the end while alternating rhymes throughout. For this one, I changed paces and traveled to Ferenginar, home of the Ferengi, a race completely obsessed with amassing wealth. This poem extols the virtues of Ferengi culture.

The Ferengi Heart

Ferengi Alliance
Ferengi Alliance

Nothing is sweeter than profit,
Latinum is the best of all.
I’ve heeded the greedy call
Of business and acquisition, her prophet.
I’ve made gold my precious cossette,
Wealth keeps me in thrall.
Nothing is sweeter than profit,
Latinum is the best of all.
I’ll steal as much as I can haul,
All I fear is the FCA audit,
All I need is Ferengi plaudit,
Charity is the only thing I appall.
Nothing is sweeter than profit,
Latinum is the best of all.

Highly amusing to me, and if you know anything about Ferengi culture, a highly accurate poem. Again I have hyperlinked some of the more obscure references.

I hope you have enjoyed my foray into the Star Trek galaxy, I know I have. Until next time, live long and prosper!

(Repetitive) Poetry

I sojourned down to Barnes & Noble for my weekly poetry meet up with Stephen Fry (oh how I wish I could actually meet up with Fry to write poetry!). It was a cool, crisp fall morning, just perfect in every way.

Today’s poetry is a continuance of the rigid forms I have been exploring, with repetitions and rhyme schemes and convoluted processes. It sounds burdensome, but when you get into writing within the form, it can be quite fun to see the poem unfold. Today I have two (one is quite long, which is why I only have two): the sestina and the pantoum which my spell check wants to correct into phantom. Anyway, the sestina repeats ending words in a specific pattern at length followed by a three line Envoi that includes all six ending words in a set pattern. There is no official metre, though I have chosen iambic trimeter for my sestina. There isn’t a rhyme scheme, other than the way repeating words might be said to rhyme. As given to me by my friend Bobby Callaway, the theme of my sestina was “double” whatever that may mean to me.


I wash my face and stare
into the frosty mirror.
What I see there scares me,
or is it me I see?
It could be him that looks
at me from out that glass.

I wipe and clean the glass
and start to climb the stairs.
From each picture a look
at me as if a mirror.
Each one is tossed, a sea
of thoughts churning in me.

I want to know: who’s me?
My soul’s fragile, like glass.
The cracks that form, I see,
I lose my gaze, I stare:
each one a hundred mirrors.
I am compelled to look.

Within each crack, a look,
a gaze, another me.
Each one another mirror.
Am I hollow as glass?
Do they, at me, all stare?
All this I can’t un-see.

But now that this I’ve seen,
I’ll take another look.
With new purpose I stare
into the eyes of each me
and find, as clear as glass,
the clear answer in’th mirror.

I’m me and him, mirrored,
each self that I have seen
in every single glass
a different side, new looks
at the same old, same me
at whom each day I stare.


Into the mirror I look
And now just see just me
into the glass I stare.

So there you have it: a sestina. By nature, a long poem as it takes time to work through all the ways the end words may be jumbled. It can continue indefinitely, but with each sixth paragraph it starts to repeat the way the lines end.

Onto the next, the pantoum. The pantoum has an endless number of four line stanzas, each line composed of 8 syllables, and ending with a rhyme scheme of ABAB BABA etc. At least, it should rhyme, but it doesn’t have to. Additionally, starting after the first stanza, the second and fourth lines of each stanza are repeated as the first and third lines of the next stanza until the poem ends, in which case the first and third lines of the first stanza become the second and fourth lines of the last stanza. The explanation will perhaps be clearer with my example. The repetition and rhyme often lends itself to solemn themes, so I have chose the Battle of Hoth, from Star Wars: the Empire Strikes Back as my theme.

Invasion: Hoth

It’s a cold, snowy day on Hoth
The battle lines are drawn in snow.
Lord Darth Vader, all black and goth:
fear in the hearts of rebels grows.

The battle lines are drawn in snow,
The Imperials cut a swath.
Fear in the hearts of rebels grows
of troopers, white visigoths.

The Imperials cut a swath
Vader at their head, a black crow,
and troopers, white visigoths,
rebel blood in red icicles flows.

Vader at their head, a black crow,
Lord Darth Vader, all black and goth,
Rebel blood in red icicles flows:
it’s a cold, snowy day on Hoth.

This pantoum is fun, a bit like a villanelle, but to my mind and poetical sensibilities, a bit easier to pull off.

I hope you have enjoyed this week’s poetical musings, with all their repetitions and fun-ness. I certainly have. Until next week, then…

Pop Culture Poesy

This week I did make it to Barnes and Noble, I am merely late in posting about it. I went earlier in the day than I normally do, and perhaps as a result, my normal table was occupied. I was forced to find a table at the local Starbucks-in-a-bookstore that almost all Barnes and Nobles have these days. It wasn’t entirely unconducive to poetry work, though it was a bit louder than I am used to, more idle conversation less quietly browsing of the stacks.

This week’s poetical musings are in the form of the ballad and heroic verse. The ballad is written in a variety of standards, but most popular is one with alternating lines of iambic tetrameter and trimeter and a rhyme scheme of ABAB. Heroic verse is not mostly about Iron Man and Batman, but is in fact a simple iambic pentameter with a rhyme scheme of AABBCCDD.

This week I decided to dedicate my poetical notions to Star Wars.

The Ballad of Luke and Leia

Now gather round and let me tell
the tale of Luke and Leia.
The sandborne son, the Alderaan belle
their love, it’s true, a fluke.

Never had he known love at all
and she was much too busy
He knew only sand and droids tall
She knew politik privy

But she fell in with Imper’al types
and he came to her rescue
then they did kiss, an act most hyped
not knowing they were askew

For he was her long lost brother
and she was his own sister
then they will help discovered the other
still he, yet twice, had kissed her.


It won’t light the world on fire, but I find it amusing enough. Of note, my rhyme scheme is ABAC, and in the first stanza it really should “Leia and Luke” but it just sounds better the other way around, to me at least. Now: to my heroic verse.

Obi-Wan’s Confession

Dear Luke, I must confess to you a truth:
a move I made for your fam’ly in youth.
The move’s become a mistake you must now know
Before this ill advised, ill love can grow.
Your knowledge is not complete, I must tell
you things you need to know, this love to quell.
A single child you are not, now nor ever
have been. You have a sibling. If you’re clever
you will know of whom I speak to you…
Yes. True. The one I mean is your new boo,
the one you have now kissed: your sister.
Shall we now chalk it up to this, you missed her?

Again, nothing very profound or even that good, but again, it amuses me. I had trouble with the rhymes in this and the ballad, but I did my best. Some are obvious, some are clunky, but at least all rhyme. I do, however, like this idea of adapting pop culture to old poetical forms. I think I will continue to do so. Until next time, do enjoy!