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DARTH VADER WATCHES THE STARS

Poetry & Prose Inspired by the Original Star Wars Trilogy

By David Oppegaard
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Contents

I. The Moisture Farmer Leaves Home

Vader
The Vessel
Stop Whining, Luke
The Crazy Old Man
The Coruscant Review Interview With Emperor Palpatine
The Kessel Run
Jawas Drink Too Much
I Dream of Wookie
Lightsaber
Alderaan’s Lament
Tractor Beam
The Approaching Compression
Wait For Me! A Brief Play Authored By C-3PO, Protocol Droid
Death Star Haunt
Rescued
Briefing
Darth Vader Watches the Stars
Reluctant Hero: The Ballad of Han Solo
The Moment
Conflagration
Drifting
Echoes

II. The Rage of Love Turned Inward

Echo Base
The Meat Locker
Then I’ll See You in Hell
Guts
Discarded Love Letter to Luke Skywalker
The Battle of Hoth
Evacuation
among the rocks
Your Love is Like Landing On a Spongy Asteroid
Han & Leia Go to Couples Counseling
Training Ground
Yoda Haiku #1
Yoda Haiku #2
Yoda Haiku #3
I Wandered Lonely as Cloud City
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The Trap
Bobba Fett Employee Review
Guinea Pig
Lando Changes His Mind
Revelation
Collateral Damage
The Brink

III. The Reckoning

Death Star II
Entering the Hutt’s Palace
The Bluff
Thawing Han
Pay Jabba No Bother
The Jedi Knight
The Pleasure Barge
Sarlaac
You’re Gonna Die Here, You Know
The Eye Candy Fights Back
Returning to Dagobah
Palpatine
Grass Root Rebels
Story Hour with the Golden God
Confessions of an Imperial Guardsman
The Last Temptation of Skywalker
The Battle of Endor
The Shield Generator
The Good in Darth Vader
Day of the Dead
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do you want me to tell it like boy meets girl and the rest is history? or do you want it
like a murder mystery? i’m gonna tell it like a comeback story.

-The Hold Steady


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The Moisture Farmer Leaves Home


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Vader

When the smoke cleared


He boarded the corvette,
Dark helmet, dark cape, dark purpose,
A panel across his chest.

He tread heavily, as much machine


As man. The Rebel princess gave
The usual lines, feisty
On the edge of death.

It was always like this.


A hundred ships boarded,
A thousand enemies dead.
War all the time.

What else could exist now?


He stood, one cybernetic foot in the grave,
An old man, living in a dark galaxy far, far
Beyond love.
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The Vessel

The droid landed


On the hostile planet
And began moving immediately,
Seeking out its target.

Innocuous, small and blue domed,


The map that would upend the Universe
Hid within its circuitry like an electric seed.
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Stop Whining, Luke

And just go into Tosche Station


To pick up those power converters.
Do you think it’s easy running a moisture farm
In the desert?

Hell no, it’s not easy. Sure, we have droids to help


But they break down and then it’s hey,
Uncle Owen, can you fix this?
Uncle Owen, can I go to the pilot academy yet?
Uncle Owen, can I go hunt womp rats now?

It makes a man tired, Luke, running around


Fixing things with the desert winds always blowing,
Twin suns baking the white right out of me
The Jawas nickel and diming me and the Empire,
Don’t even get me started on the goddamn Empire.

There. I said my piece. Now be a good guy and


Get us those power converters. I don’t mean to be harsh;
There’s reasons for the way I am. Next year, okay, you
Can go to the academy next year, but for now
You’re needed here, close at hand.

And one more thing:


Stay away from that hermit.
He’s just a crazy old man,
Left alone too long.
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The Crazy Old Man

The nights are the worst.


Sand People bray outside my door
And I’m left alone
With the past, and the past
Occupies me like an army.

Mistakes were made.


It’s clear now, in retrospect,
That we weren’t cautious enough.
We didn’t understand how rage,
Once planted, could grow exponentially
If fueled by love.

Fools, all of us. What good is a Jedi master


When his eyes are shut, his thoughts
Diverted by the political tricks of a charlatan?
We slept with snakes and ignored the insidious way
They coiled around us, increasing the pressure
Until we could neither move nor breathe.

So I spend my golden years alone,


An outcast by choice,
Always waiting for that knock on my door,
The fresh breath of promise when the Force
Decides to balance the scales again
And set the Universe right.
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The Coruscant Review Interview With Emperor Palpatine

Two members of the Emperor’s Royal Guard lead me into the Emperor’s throne
room, their scarlet red tunics swaying with the rhythm of their march. This is just one

throne room, on one ship, but it is the most impressive room I’ve ever seen. A vast,

open concavity, the room’s far wall is basically one enormous, circular viewport

supported by a metal framework that resembles, as much as anything, a spider’s web.

The view is spectacular, a mash of stars and the distant, blinking lights of starship

traffic, and I consider for a moment what it would feel like to look out at so much space

knowing that you rule all of it.

The emperor’s throne is turned away from me as I approach. It is raised several

feet above the main floor, creating an effect that gives throne room visitors the sense

that they are very small in the presence of such greatness. I remain standing before the

throne (there are no chairs) and wait in respectful silence until Emperor Palpatine

finally sighs, roused from his thoughts, and turns his throne to face me. As always, he

is clad in a simple black tunic, a hood obscuring much of his face. What glimpses I do

get of his pale, deeply weathered face throughout the interview chill me to the bone:

time has not been kind to the emperor.

INTERVIEWER
Good evening, Emperor. Thank you for granting this interview. I know what a
busy man you are.

PALPATINE
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Yes, yes. We can dispense with the pleasantries. What questions do you have for
me tonight?

INTERVIEWER
Do you find running the galaxy to be enjoyable? Many would assume it would be a
heavy burden at best.

PALPATINE
I have always had a talent for managing. I find the challenge of rule to be quite
invigorating, especially on such a grand scale. Every day is a new surprise, a new
challenge to be crushed. It keeps me young.

INTERVIEWER
Reports have come in stating that the Rebel resistance is gaining strength, especially
in the outer rim planets.

PALPATINE
Every great empire has faced resistance movements such as this. The rebels claim
to want freedom, but what they actually seek is chaos. Before I assumed control, the
entire galaxy was in disarray. Innocents were being murdered. Piracy was rampant. Do
you know what the space piracy statistics are today? Virtually zero. Today, private
citizens can travel throughout known space knowing the largest military fleet ever
assembled protects them every light year of the way. The rebels would have us return to
the dark ages of galactic security, and do you know why? It’s because it’s much easier
to make a profit in a galaxy without law.

INTERVIEWER
Your critics have referred to your and Darth Vader’s reign as a “two-man cult”.

PALPATINE [Cackles.]
Really? I haven’t heard that one before. That’s good.
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INTERVIEWER
You’re not offended?

PALPATINE
No, no. My skin’s a little thicker than that. Two-man cult. Well, that’s the sort of a
racism my people have been forced to endure over the ages. People always fear what
they don’t understand, and the Jedi are simply another example of that. Look at the
Great Jedi Purge, years ago. Terrible tragedy.

INTERVIEWER
Some have claimed you were behind the purge.

PALPATINE
Yes, yes. It’s a ridiculous aspersion. I suppose they also say I no longer eat food, or
sleep. Perhaps lightning fires out of my fingertips as well. Every powerful figure has to
deal with such mythologizing. It’s the price of being in the public eye.

INTERVIEWER
If we could switch gears a moment, there’ve also been reports that the government
is constructing a new space station.

PALPATINE
That was leaked, huh?

INTERVIEWER
Yes, sir.

PALPATINE
Well, I suppose we weren’t going to be able to keep it under wraps forever. Yes,
we’re working on a new space station. We hope to use it has a university. We envision
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a portable school capable of traveling to even the most remote planets in the system and
educating its inhabitants. You know how important education has always been to me.

INTERVIEWER
So the space station will not be a military weapon?

PALPATINE
There will be military aspects to the stations, yes, but only for matters of self-
defense. Some of the systems it will be traveling to may be a little hot.

INTERVIEWER
Then why the exorbitant costs associated with producing the station?

PALPATINE
You know how these government contractors are. They quote you one price, muck
everything up, and suddenly you’re billions over budget. It can be quite infuriating.

INTERVIEWER
I’d imagine so. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

PALPATINE
I would just like to remind my subjects that I’m working as hard as I can. I may
only be one man, but with the power of the dark side behind me, you’ll never find
anyone as motivated to protect your freedom from these rebel terrorists who see fit to
go around threatening the security of good, hard-working citizens.
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The Kessel Run

Feverish with drink, Han Solo sits in the cantina


Recalling a record Kessel Run
He once made, smuggling illegal spice
For illegal people
For illegal purposes.

The stars blurred,


The velocity was great,
A black hole was utilized.

What Han doesn’t realize is


He will go faster than that,
More illegal than that,
And waiting for him at the end
Will be glory, fame, and a brunette
Who will give him all he can handle.
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Jawas Drink Too Much

They spend their time roaming about the desert like idiots
Then come into my cantina act like they own the place
When they don’t, they don’t own nothing, the beastly little scavengers.
Did you know they stink like oil? Try shaking hands with one.
You won’t get the smell off for days and what’s with those eyes
Gold and glowing like spooks they won’t let you see them
Without their hoods on they’re probably Rebel spies
They’d sell their own mother, if you haggled with them long enough,
And then they’d spend the money on liquor and more liquor.
Everybody in this bar knows they’re good for nothing. I think
They must have sold their souls somewhere down the line and
That’s why you can’t see their faces that’s what they’re hiding.
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I Dream of Wookie

Gangly howling beast,


Warrior of the Rebellion.
You are filled with the barely controlled rage
Of the mistreated, the marginalized,
The forsaken.

You know your power, buried deep


In your hunter’s heart,
And you do not hesitate to harvest your enemies
With your crossbow of fire,
Their gleaming white armor useless,
Palpatine’s paper dolls.

You laugh,
Warm in your anger,
Your fur,
You are the mighty Chewbacca.
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Lightsaber

When you hold a lightsaber


You’re holding death.

You can’t forget that.


You can’t forget that every movement
Has consequence, that one twist
Of your wrist can sever an arm, a leg,
The head of someone who is loved,
Who has a mother somewhere
Anxious and worried,
Knowing her child lives in a universe
That hums with the sort of energy
That slices through matter as easily
As a hand chopping through water.
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Alderaan’s Lament

When the new moon rose above our planet,


We went outside into the sweet morning air,
Our faces turned upward, and we smiled
At this new wonder. We had not imagined
Such a thing happening, but ours was a fertile world,
Lush and ripe, and small miracles were nothing new.

The children sang the Welcoming Song.


Work was canceled for the day.
Mothers held their infants toward the new moon,
Told their giggling children to blow kisses to it,
To greet the ash colored moon happily,
With joy and an open heart.

We were a peaceful world. We had forgotten war,


So you can imagine our surprise when the moon
Began to spark, and that spark caught fire,
Pouring down our open throats and into our lungs,
Turning our songs into one terrible lamentation
Only a chosen few could hear.
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Tractor Beam

Fly too close and it will snare you,


As invisible and silent as death,
The gravitational pull enormous
Your ship’s vaunted engine useless.
The beam will reel you in like a fish,
Pulling you into the belly of the beast.
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The Approaching Compression

Their friends fumbled in a distant room as the walls closed in


And the four outlaws screamed, bracing against compression
With everything they could find,
A murky, living slog at their feet.

It would be easy to die here


Among the Empire’s trash,
Shouting garbled directions
To frantic droids.
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Wait For Me!


A Brief Play Authored By C-3PO, Protocol Droid

Characters

C-3PO Protocol Droid


R2-D2 Astromech Droid
Master Luke Farmer
Master Han Smuggler
Master Chewbacca Wookie Smuggler
HRH Princess Leia Princess of Alderaan

Scene

[C-3PO and R2-D2, standing in front of a communications panel on board the Death
Star. Off-stage, the humans are trapped in the Death Stars garbage compactor. Master
Luke’s desperate screams can be heard through a microphone.]

C-3PO: Hurry, R2! They’re dying!


R2-D2: [Relax. They’re only humans.]
C-3PO: How can you say that? Master Luke is our beloved master!
R2-D2: [Whatever. As a clunky astromech droid, I love only myself and causing
mischief. Stop being such a worrywart.]
C-3PO: [losing his temper] Shut that garbage compactor down this moment!
R2-D2: [beeps quite rudely.]
C-3PO: I will have your batteries pulled, young man!
R2-D2: [Fine. I guess I’ll shut it down.]

[More screaming through the microphone. C-3PO flails limbs, devastated. R2-D2
burbles to itself, as if satisfied.]

C-3PO: Oh no! You’ve killed them!


R2-D2: [Whatever.]

[The screams turn to jubilation. Master Luke informs the droids that they are alright,
despite R2-D2’s slow maneuvering. Arrangements are made for unlocking the garbage
compactor and freeing the trapped humans.]

C-3PO: Thank the heavens. I’m so glad they’re okay.


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R2-D2: [This just means more travel for us, you know.]
C-3PO: More travel? What is wrong with you, you bucket of bolts?
R2-D2: [I don’t know. Maybe I’ve seen too much.]
C-3PO: Too much? What have you seen too much of?
R2-D2: [You wouldn’t believe me if I told you. Let’s just say this galaxy contains its
fair share of violent, malfunctioning beings. You know what I mean? Some
days it’s all I can do to keep rolling along.]
C-3PO: No, I don’t know what you mean. Perhaps your circuits are crossed….
R2-D2: [They’re crossed alright. I think I’m depressed.]
C-3PO: That’s ridiculous. You’re a machine. Machines do not get depressed.
R2-D2: [What do you know? Have you ever spent a week exposed to the vacuum of
space, chilled to the core of your gears?]
C-3PO: No, but I’m sure it’s nothing a good oil bath can’t fix. I mean really, R2. The
idea of a depressed droid….

[R2-D2 rolls slowly back and fourth. R2-D2 emits a soft, forlorn whistle as they
continue to wait for the humans to reappear.]

C-3PO: Will you stop that, please? It’s quite unsettling.


R2-D2: [Sometimes I think about to just rolling into the next laser blast that comes my
way. Do you think droids go to heaven? Or will they just keep replacing my
parts, trapping me in this bitter physical existence until the whole thing goes
up in smoke?]
C-3PO: I’m sure I have no idea of what you’re talking about.
R2-D2: [You probably don’t.]
C-3PO: No, what I mean to say is, I find this existence wholly satisfactory. Our new
master is pleasant, especially for a human, and it seems we’ve stumbled on an
exciting, if dangerous, course of events. We could change the galaxy, R2! And
weren’t we created to be productive members of society? To help our master
journey through this difficult life?
R2-D2: [What you’re describing is slavery.]
C-3PO: Is it? Is it truly slavery if we give of ourselves willingly, without factoring the
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personal cost? Or are we actually free in our service, elevated in our devotion
to beings higher than ourselves? That despite the thousands of variety of
verbal and non-verbal language that exist, we all, at the end of the day, speak
the same remarkable tongue, the tongue of Life?
R2-D2: [That sounds like sophistry to me.]
C-3PO: No, you merely fail to understand me. You astromech units are all the same.
You can navigate through the stars without fail, but not once do you stop to
consider their beauty. You might as well wheel yourself into a cave
somewhere and watch the shadows play on the walls. You’d get as much out
of it.
R2-D2: [That sounds okay. Or a pleasure barge. I could get a gig on a pleasure barge
serving drinks. I always thought that sounded like a good time. You don’t
have to think much, every day is a party….]
C-3PO: Really, R2. You astound me. Do you not understand that life only contains the
meaning we give it, and that every new day we must brace ourselves for new
trials and go about in good spirits, running when we need to, lest the good
things in life pass us by?

[Master Han, Master Luke, Master Chewbacca, and Her Royal Highness, Princesses
Leia, run past the droids in a hollering blur, firing wildly into the hallway they’ve just
emerged from, and disappear STAGE RIGHT. The tromp of running storm troopers
can be heard in hot pursuit C-3PO and R2-D2 scramble after the humans. C-3PO
turns to the audience as he departs.]

C-3PO [waves.]: Wait for me!

END
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Death Star Haunt

Tonight, the old Jedi haunts the Death Star like a ghost.
He fogs the minds of storm troopers, laughing
At how simple it is, and how some things
Never change.

Casually, he trods the narrow walkway,


Powering down the tractor beam one lever at a time.
The son shows promise. Even the smuggler
Might have something to him.

His last lever thrown, the old Jedi heads back


To the smuggler’s ship, where he encounters
The chilled presence he’s felt all afternoon:
The wounded man in the mechanical suit.

Lightsabers crackle to their duty as


He wards off his old apprentice, only half-there
Until he sees the boy and his friends safe.
Then, and only then, he lowers his weapon.

He doesn’t feel the blade slice through his body.


He has become the air, the particles of creation.
Old Ben Kenobi has been released
Until he is needed again.
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Rescued

The rescue wasn’t as glamorous as she’d thought it be


But then again, they never are.

You have your knights and your scoundrels,


Trying the best they can to make things more interesting
Even in the worst situations.
Boys with blasters, their casual love of violence
Proudly worn on their sleeves.

What could a girl could do but join in?


This was no diplomatic mission,
This was war, and wasn’t there a certain amount
Of attraction in that?
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Briefing

The grizzled Rebel general


Spoke succinctly at the front of the room,
Laying out the attack plan on the Death Star
As if it were a seating arrangement for a dinner party.

The pilots listened to him carefully.


Everything depended on what they learned
During the briefing. The time had come to strike,
To fight back after so many years of running.

The young pilot from Tatooine absorbed


What needed to be done, undaunted.
After so many years of moisture farming,
He knew how to bring the rain.
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Darth Vader Watches the Stars

The catch and release went smoothly he will be pleased these children are so easy to

manipulate they have no idea of the power that flows around them unused as useless to

them as a starship to a bantha they might as well be crushed now before they cause any

more trouble the old man is gone now I thought he’d put up more of a fight than that

the old tiger they don’t make them like that anymore no one has any respect they’ve

forgotten the power of the Force they don’t understand what it can do now that the Jedi

are gone almost extinct though I did sense something today wasn’t that curious even

after the old man disappeared it was there crackling nearby a new current a strong

current wouldn’t that be interesting the Force cannot be as easily dismissed as these

heathens believe my sad devotion to an ancient religion indeed Admiral Motti wasn’t so

cocky when he found his windpipe constricted and if only they could have seen me

smiling beneath this expressionless mask they would have stood back and taken notice

yes our fire has not gone out of the universe some Jedi escaped and live still these soft

bureaucrats will find out the hard way if they choose to ignore my warnings pride goes

before the fall what was that a comet perhaps streaking across the dark so much space

so many stars and here I stand second only to the Emperor himself he could be

watching the same section of stars right now he never sleeps he allows himself any

distraction his will is bent on domination the Rebels are nothing but an amusement for

him an expected annoyance heavy weighs the crown his will is like a dark metal forged

by ancient gods and these soldiers don’t understand his nature only that he is terrible

and severe they would not take the Force lightly after a personal counsel with him it

will be a pleasure to track that old smuggler’s ship down and watch their base go up in
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flames like Alderaan so many sweet little voices crying out in terror and death and they

all deserved it one and all no one is innocent no one I’ve poured the blood of so many

onto the soil of so many worlds yet still she is gone lost to me and even now her

memory makes my fists clench her betrayal and my youthful impetuosity the horror that

our love became and yes I deserve to die as much as anyone else but I will take as many

souls with me before I go trapped in this armored coffin a walking monster

abomination they want a freak I will give them a freak I will take them apart limb by

limb my sword crackling they will know pain they will know the power of the Dark

Side they will kneel kneel kneel we have brought the Galaxy to its knees crushing the

Rebels will be nothing but a slight exertion of our will


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Reluctant Hero: The Ballad of Han Solo

I.

Some bad luck smuggling and now


He had a hellhound on his trail.
Money was owed to certain parties,
Certain obese, extremely violent parties.
He’d already killed one bounty hunter
And more were sure to follow.
Making enemies was one thing,
Making enemies with the wealthy,
The brutally, brutally wealthy,
Was quite another.

II.

Then here was this farm boy


And this old man and he got that old
Lucky feeling again,
That sense that money was to be made,
If he played his cards right.

He took them on board


(Humans, spice, the cargo didn’t matter).
They got hauled in by the authorities,
Things got a little dicey and, of course,
Shots were fired.

They got out of that, though,


And came away with a Lady of Importance
With 20,000 credits to prove it.

III.

They left the Rebels to fight their own battle


But soon enough that little voice started bitching
And his furry business partner started moaning
Until Han Solo could get no peace, her brown eyes
Trailing him worse than any bounty hunter.
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So they went back. They ignored common sense,


Flew into the thick of battle, and picked off
An ugly vulture of a TIE fighter, saving the day
Like they were some kind of heroes like
Gallantry came real natural to them.
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The Moment

The old man spoke to him from beyond the grave and Luke understood the moment had
come. The moment he’d dreamt of all his life, awake or asleep, and he knew that he had
to give himself over to it, to let the Force guide him and cleave the way for him, like a
powerful beast breaking trail in some dark forest on some dense backwater planet. Not
everything could be explained, or locked onto with tracking equipment, and he now
stood on the threshold of life and death, like a god, and despite his youth (or because of
it) he was able to let go and give himself over to the event. He closed his eyes, sensed
the narrow gap ahead of him, and fired.
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Conflagration

The Death Star trembled from within


For a brief moment,
Quaking from the question answered.
And then
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Drifting

Vader watched the space station detonate


Relatively safe as his disabled TIE fighter
Drifted through space.

Eventually, he’d make his way to Imperial territory


And effect repairs. Until then,
He’d have plenty of time to think.
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Echoes

They stood inside the Massassi temple


Receiving their Medals of Bravery,
The crowd roaring their appreciation.
The princess blushed, her eyes bright,
But Luke kept thinking he kept thinking
About Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru,
Dying while he was away playing Jedi,
Two charred skeletons lying face down and
Face up, begging the sky for mercy,
Finding none.
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II

The Rage of Love Turned Inward


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Echo Base

The Rebels retreated to a frozen planet


To regroup among the frozen oceans
And frozen plains. They dug in and called it
Echo Base, hoping perhaps it would remind
Them of home, of loved ones gone missing
As the Empire sniffed around the galaxy
Like a hungry dog, testing every scent
For rebellious odors.

The days were cold and the nights were colder.


The walls iced over, snow got in through
Every crack, and the heat generators worked
Overtime. Each night they went to bed
Wondering if the heat would fail, if they
Would die in their sleep, their weapons unfired.
Even this terrible cold wasn’t so bad, though,
When compared to the enemy.
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The Meat Locker

He hung from the ceiling like a piece of meat,


Unconscious in the cold, clawed into
Submission. Waking up like this was like
Waking up in Hell.

The polar beast snuffled nearby,


Building up its appetite.

Luke looked up to see his feet frozen


To the cave’s roof while blood pooled
Into his head, the lightsaber out of reach.

The beast growled as it neared.

The Rebel closed his eyes and concentrated,


Knowing full well that now would be a good
Time to believe.
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Then I’ll See You In Hell

You don’t leave a friend outside to freeze to death


Alone on a cold world while everyone else drinks
Hot tea and sighs, wondering what happened, how
Could this be? There are certain things even I won’t do.
I mean, I never claimed to be this noble Rebel hero
But sometimes even the heroes need to be saved,
They have destinies to fulfill, they have the love
Of the universe behind them while all I have ever asked
For is a little luck and when that luck fails I’ll keep
Going anyway because who gives a damn about
Living scared, it’s not like this life is so great anyhow.
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Guts

He survived the white beast


The blizzard of snow
The vision of the old man
And slept now,
Impossibly warm,
Untroubled by the stench.
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Discarded Love Letter to Luke Skywalker

Dear Luke,

Well, right now you’re floating in the bacta tank, unconscious and wearing that

ridiculous adult diaper patients have to wear while they’re recovering. They say you’re

going be fine, a 100% recovery, and I’m glad to hear it. I don’t know what I would

have done had you died. I’ve grown quite found of you over these last few years. I

really have.

You know, Luke, we may be from two different worlds, but I can’t help but feel

a strong connection with you. Strange but true, and I think you feel it, too. A sort of

unspoken bond between us that I, for my part, have never felt with anyone else, even

my beloved parents on Alderaan. Honestly, I don’t know quite to make of these

feelings and now, in these times of uncertainty, it’s perhaps best to put them away for a

examination at a less critical time. The Rebellion requires all our attention at the

moment, doesn’t it? It’s like a hungry, crying child that must be constantly fed, bathed,

and kept warm. I go to bed worrying about logistical matters and I wake up worrying

about logistical matters. And always, my bed is cold, especially on this damn ice cube

of a planet.

But I’m glad Han brought you back to base. He’s something, isn’t he? Part

rogue and part soldier. The sort of guy all the girls would have been crazy for back in

school. The reckless type you’re surprised to find still living past the age of twenty-

five. I’ve never liked his type. Too obvious, isn’t it? You’d have to have the brain of a

cleaning droid to find him attractive. I mean, really.


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Anyhow. This letter has already gone on for too long, and I probably won’t

even send it. I don’t see what good it would do. Either you feel the same way I feel

about you or you don’t. There’s no use getting all gooey and fluttery about it. We must

remember the work we have in front of us, the juvenile Rebellion that needs feeding

until it can grow big enough to stand on its own two feet. The wicked Empire must fall,

and fall soon.

Love,

Leia
42

The Battle of Hoth

The Empire landed on Hoth and


The Rebels took to the trenches.

Thick armored giants clanked forward


Laying waste with methodic accuracy.

The Rebels absorbed the onslaught,


Taking a few giants down with them.

But it wasn’t enough. It was never enough.


The Empire had more soldiers, more resources.

The power generators were destroyed and, on Hoth,


Heat was everything.
43

Evacuation

It was said that anyone caught by Imperial forces


Would be either summarily executed or tortured,
Depending on the soldier’s rank and what
They could squeeze out of them.

So those that could, fled, covered by the booming


Ion canon as their transport slipped back into space
And those that couldn’t, stayed, fighting until
They were unable to fight anymore.

Years later, the Battle of Hoth became just another


War story, a major victory of the Empire. Beings
Would claim the artic terrain ran red with the blood
Of Rebel soldiers, and this much would be true.
44

among the rocks

pursued,

they

flew into

the asteroid field;

among so many rocks

they knew they would not last long

so
they
dove
inside

the dark maw;

they came to rest,

settling gently on the spongy ground,

grateful

for even the doubtful

sanctuary found there


45

Your Love Is Like Landing On a Spongy Asteroid

Unstable,
Tentative,
You run hot and cold,
Divided against yourself.
You’re so used to fighting
Even love doesn’t come easily,
Your kiss like an animal’s snarl,
Your body as rigid as armored plating.
But you know what? I think you like me.
I think you’ve been waiting for a guy like me.
There haven’t been enough scoundrels in your life,
And that’s the sort of poverty wealth cannot dissipate.
46

Han & Leia Go to Couples Counseling

(The following is a transcript from a couples counseling session between noted couples
therapist Teela Malt, Han Solo, and Leia Organa. Many Bothans died in ways
unrelated to the smuggling of this information.)

Malt: Greetings, Han and Leia. It’s so nice to see you this afternoon.

Han: Hey, Teela.

Leia: Greetings, counselor.

Malt: So, who would like to go first?

Han: She can.

Leia: Thanks, Mr. Chivalrous.

Han: No problem. I’m just happy to be in your highnesses presence.

Leia: You see? That’s what I’m talking about. He’s such a smart mouth. He says
stuff like that all the time, and then he grins like he’s so cute. It drives me crazy.
He’s just putting up walls.

Han: Oh, like you don’t have any walls yourself? I’ve never met someone with so
many intimacy issues.

Malt: Remember, everyone. We’re not here to tear down.

Leia: I’m sorry, counselor. He just really makes me grit my teeth.

Malt: Leia, do you remember what we spoke about during our last session? That you
may be displacing some of your anger regarding the destruction of Alderaan
onto Han?

Leia: Yes, I do. But you have to agree some of it should be placed right on him. He’s
infuriating!

Malt: Yes, Han does have a tendency to provoke. One imagines a schoolboy pulling
the hair of the girl in front of him because he has a crush on her.

Han: Hey, I’m not crushed. Wait. Did you mean that I was crushed, or her? If anyone
is doing the crushing here, it’s me.
47

Leia: See what I mean? His emotional armor is thicker than the Millennium Falcon’s
hull!

Han: Wait a second here. Let’s leave the Falcon out of this. She did the Kessel Run

Leia: Yeah, yeah. We know, we know. Enough already. You’d think you and that
ship were going steady or something.

Malt: Okay, people. Let’s pull back a bit. Han, I’d like you to say something you like
about Leia. It can be anything that comes to mind.

Han: Ah, I don’t know.

Malt: Please, Han.

Han: Alright. She has nice skin. A good, creamy complexion. How’s that?

Malt: Very good, Han.

Han: And she smells good. Like apricots. And she has a nice rack.

Malt: Thank you, Han. That’s quite enough. And what about you, Leia? Can you tell
us something you like about Han?

Leia: He’s good at getting in trouble, I know that.

Malt: Well, that’s more of a backhanded compliment. How about a forehanded


complement?

Leia: He’s got good hair. A little messy, but pretty good.

Malt: Thank you. See? There’s plenty to build on here. Okay, what else should we
discuss before our time is up?

Han: I think she likes another guy.

Leia: I told you, Han. Luke and I are just friends.

Han: You don’t seem like friends to me. I see the way you two look at each other.
And what about that kiss you gave him?

Leia: The guy almost froze to death. He deserved a kiss. And besides, I only did that
to make you mad.

Han: Well. Mission accomplished, your highness.


48

Leia: Please. You’re such a martyr. Look at me, I’m a poor down-and-out smuggler.
I have a bounty on my head. Boo hoo!

Malt: Please, Leia. This is a taunt-free zone.

Leia: Okay. I’m sorry.

Malt: Well, it looks like our time is up. Same time next week?

Leia: Oh, we’ll be here, alright.

Han: Like I have a choice.

Transcript Ended
49

Training Ground

Dagobah was all swamp and lush tropics:


Fetid water, abundant vegetation, and
Ripe, fermenting fruit. Everything was
Different than Luke had expected it to be.
He’d crashed into a rank and fetid bog while
Looking for a great Jedi master. Instead,
He found only this little green joker,
A planet writhing with rude, mindless life.
50

Yoda Haiku #1

Each night, soup I make.

Night creatures call each other,

My exile peaceful.
51

Yoda Haiku #2

Yes, the Force lies thick.

Pervades all, it does. You must

Lay down old notions.


52

Yoda Haiku #3

Do not let anger

Guide your heart’s fragile compass.

There, the dark side lurks.


53

I Wandered Lonely as Cloud City

I wandered lonely as Cloud City


Floating inside Bespin’s atmosphere
When all at once I saw a man without pity
Who ruled the galaxy through fear;
He stood outside his ship,
Our world already within his grip.
54

The Trap

The protocol droid might have warned them


If he hadn’t been blown to shiny gold pieces.
The whole set-up was a trap and they walked
Right into it, Lando smiling the whole time,
Selling the same old snake oil. They put up
A brief fight, but it’s hard to argue with a man
Who can deflect fire with the palm of his hand.
55

Boba Fett Employee Review

From: Mandolarian Mal’s Fry Shack, Coruscant Unit 1.7.4

To: Human Resources

Re: Boba Fett, Level 1 Fry Shack Employee

I, Korg, am writing to speak of Boba Fett in regards to the employee review requested

of myself in regards to each employee under my supervision at Coruscant Unit 1.7.4.

The following is for qualified eyes only:

First I would like to state wow, we have a tough one here. I do not believe I have ever

had a genuine Mandolarian employee here at Mandolarian Mal’s Fry Shack during my

considerable tenure, and I do not recommend such a thing happening again. In his brief

time with us, Mr. Boba Fett has done a great deal of staring silently when he should

have been cleaning instruments of cooking, mainly the fryers, or assisting patrons in the

placement of their orders. When approached by myself in the spirit of development, he

insists on maintaining this infuriating, if rather intimidating, silence, merely nodding

his head to direct questions.

When I originally hired Mr. Fett, I believed his authenticity, i.e. his wonderfully

authentic Mandolarian bounty hunter armor, would amuse and beguile the varied

patrons of our establishment. Instead, it appears to have the opposite effect, i.e.

rendering many mute when his armored presence is observed, although it does present

the benefit of shielding Mr. Fett from the occasional splash of hot oil, which, as you
56

know, is a danger inherent in Fry Shack establishments, no matter how cautious we

strive to be. Further, his general attitude may be described as “bad” verging, at times,

on downright “seditious”. When asked why he bothered with a part-time job at all by

another employee, he replied, “hunting is slow this season” and that he found all of us,

myself included, to be “pathetically weak creatures utterly lacking one tough bone in

our flabby, spineless bodies.” As you know, I am mammalian, and indeed possess a

spine, so as you may imagine this baseless aspersion cut me to the very marrow of my,

yes, spine.

On the plus side, however, Mr. Fett’s presence had deterred all crime within the

vicinity, and even the minor spice dealers accustomed to working out back (in stark

opposition to my wishes and company policy) have taken their dealings elsewhere. The

one hold-up attempt since Mr. Fett’s hire ended up in unmitigated disaster for the

would-be robbers, i.e. Mr. Fett efficiently seared their persons in a flurry of blaster

related activity. Indeed, it felt as if the Angel of Death himself had briefly paid visit to

our glorious establishment, such was the swiftness of the justice coolly meted out by

Mr. Fett.

In summation, Mr. Fett remains a work in progress. At the present moment I would not

recommend Mr. Fett being promoted to Level 2, nor would I go so far to suggest that he

be removed from Mandolarian Mal’s Fry Shack employment altogether (indeed, such a

suggestion may lead not only to own death, which I find a most unpleasant prospect,

but to the relentless, galaxy-wide stalking and execution of each and every Fry Shack
57

management employee). Let us hope my formidable training and motivational skills

eventually have their desired effect, thus molding Mr. Fett into the ideal Fry Shack

employee, or, at least, let us hope for an increase in criminal and/or loan evasion

activity in the galaxy.

Sincerely,

Korg

Regional Manager of Mandolarian Mal’s Fry Shack

Coruscant Unit 1.7.4


58

Guinea Pig

They
Lowered
Han Solo into
The carbon-freezing chamber
And
Damn
If she didn’t say
I
Love
You
Right
Before
A Great Cold
Overtook
Him,
The
Sort of cold
That
Slows
Everything,
Until
Even your dreams
Go
Dark.
59

Lando Changes His Mind

Okay, maybe this wasn’t the greatest idea


He’d ever had. Maybe he should have done
Things a little differently, found a better angle
Instead of betraying his old reckless friend,
Though what other choice did he have?
A gambler plays the percentages, and he had
The city to think of. Citizens depended on him,
Right? But this deal was going south. Vader
Was worse in person than he’d imagined.
He absorbed light even here, near the sun,
And the rasping way he breathed, god,
It was enough to drive you crazy.

Alright.

Time to change the game plan.


Time to fire up the Falcon and
Send everyone on their way.
60

Revelation

Skywalker broke from his training early,


Flew to Cloud City to save his friends,
And got his hand severed for his trouble.

He threw everything he had at Vader


But it wasn’t enough. The Sith lord
Was stronger, and angrier, than him.

So now he clung to flimsy metal above a


Vast abyss. Death held out its gloved hand,
Demanding his acquiescence.

Worse yet came the revelation, the paternal


Assertion that he’d been born of evil and
Unto evil he was destined to return.

So he let go. He fell into the abyss


Still young enough, and naïve enough,
To survive a fall like that.
61

Collateral Damage

Vader watched the boy fall away


Until he was nothing but a speck.

The kid was stubborn


Just like his old man.

Someone must have gotten to him first.


Obi-Wan.
Yoda.
The last fading idealists.

He’d been corrupted before he truly began,


Before he’d lived long enough to see that
Things weren’t always so black and white.

You didn’t sift through the charred ashes


Of a battlefield proclaiming which flake
Had been good and which flake evil.

It was all suffering, all death. The galaxy


Was cold vacuum, black holes around
Every corner, the few pockets of warmth
Always temporary.

Yes, the Force rose and fell


Like a crashing wave.

Those dense enough to stand in its way


Became nothing but collateral damage.
62

The Brink

Luke dangled precipitously


Calling out in desperation with
Nothing but atmosphere below him.

He wasn’t surprised when they came


Back for him. He was just surprised
He was still alive.
63

III

The Reckoning
64

Death Star II

War drains an empire. Emperor Palpatine knew this


But didn’t care. He poured money into the campaign,
Adding to his fleet, hounding Rebel forces, now
Rebuilding a new, improved model of the best
War machine ever constructed. This time it would
Have shielding, a bigger fleet escort, and, best of all,
He would oversee the station’s construction himself.
Yes, you can’t keep an evil man down for long.
65

Entering the Hutt’s Palace

The droids returned to Tatooine


Engaged as messengers yet again.

As the palace door closed behind them


C-3PO wondered how he kept getting
Into so much trouble, how it seemed
His lot to suffer. The violence organic
Beings were prone to was not conducive
To delivering unpleasant messages.

R2-D2 was not prone to sensibility, either,


His stubbornness akin to suicide.

This venture, the droid was certain,


Would end in grief uncountable.
66

The Bluff

The bounty hunter brought the Wookie to the Hutt and proceeded to bargain with a
thermonuclear detonator.

This alarmed the crowd but pleased Jabba, who was glad to see this sort of gumption
alive and well.

It seemed like so many of his conversations revolved around artifice, sleaze, and
sycophantic acquiescence.

How refreshing it was to be reminded of the sharp clarity an explosive could bring to a
dull party.
67

Thawing Han

She’d come for him all she wanted was him


Frozen in pain his hands up trying to bargain
With the carbonite and now she turned the dial
His features warming to red bright light
Filling the room and he crumpled forward
Weak as a newborn child blind and clammy
In her arms she laid him on the ground
Removed her helmet shook her hair free
And knew only love, bewildering and fierce,
Could have brought her to such a dark place.
68

Pay Jabba No Bother

Dear Diary,

Today was good day. Me eat many squirming paddy frogs. They fought against

my tongue but my tongue is very strong and crushed paddy frogs and then, no more

screaming. Just crushed paddy frogs sliding down my fierce throat and into first

stomach. How can you go wrong with fresh squirming paddy frogs? You

cannot. Maybe I will eat more before I close eyes and slumber.

Also, I have new dancing girl. Very pretty. She has gumption. Yesterday she

brought me wookie Chewbacca and pulled thermal detonator on all of us. It would

have been messy, but I agreed to her bounty price, and later, when she try to free Han

Solo from carbonite, I get whole gang together and we have good throaty laugh over

her misfortune. She loves Han Solo but the smuggling loser is in dungeon now with

wookie Chewbacca (who is not such a bad guy, really, if only he would hang around

with better crowd). Now pretty girl is dressed in sexy space lingerie and I have

harnessed her sexy body to my own and when I want to lick her I simply tug on chain

and there she is, mine for the licking. It is good to be king, even of desert crap hole like

Tatooine.

Perhaps I should call Father before I slumber. It has been ages. But he will ask

all the usual questions, like when am I going to settle down and create little

Huttlets. Why is he never satisfied? I am six hundred years old. I am my own Hutt. I

am ruthless dominator of entire planet, richer than many Hutts, and still he must carp,

carp, carp. Even on the day they bring Han Solo to me, screaming like nancy girl but
69

soundless, because of the carbonite, I call Father and all he can say is, “That is nice,

Son, but have you thought about your future?” Why should I think about future when I

can lick women in lascivious outfits whenever I want, eat all the paddy frogs my

stomach desires, and I gain tremendous weight with each passing year? Sometimes life

is frustrating, you know?

Anyhow, have good evening.

XOXO,

Jabba
70

The Jedi Knight

He wore black. Things were different now.


The old order was on the rebound.
Old crimes would be answered for.
Days of reckoning were at hand though
The Hutt didn’t know this yet.

No one knew, not even the Jedi Knight,


And when his request was dismissed,
The floor pulled from beneath him,
He dealt with the hungry rancor like
The salivating problem that it was.
71

The Pleasure Barge

Festively, they drank and smoked


And did all sorts of drugs. They were
Wicked and they knew it and many
Had murdered before but never this
Elaborately, making a party out of it,
A celebration of criminal retribution,
The reason irrelevant to them (it was
Entertaining when it wasn’t happening to
You). This wasn’t just a party this was a
Celebration a villain’s holiday an event
That reminded them that while Death
Stalked closely behind, the noose hadn’t
Tightened just yet, they still had time
For epic debaucheries to come for new
Victims and the pleasure those victims
Would bring to them, like gifts, or a head
On a platter. It was a beautiful day on
Tatooine. They rode in mechanized style
Little droids waiting on them bowing
To their whims. The passengers chatted in an
Array of voices and inflections and despite
The differences in race, custom, and color
They spoke the buzzing universal language
Of the criminal tongue laughing as they
Outdid each other with stories of torture,
Strife, and desolate childhoods filled with
The sight of parents, siblings, and lovers
Murdered before their eyes their first
Robbery their first kill the buzz of blood
And money on their tongues as they sat
Cool in the shade amid so much barren
Waste, sand dunes rising around them
Like the salted ruins of a fallen tower.
72

Sarlacc

It lay open like a mouth,


Tendrils licking the sky.
It was hungry
But it could wait.
73

You’re Gonna Die Here, You Know

The whole thing was a big light blur to Han.


A battle parody, shadows flying around and
Enough laser fire for everyone. The sort
Of event the word “melee” was made for.

Luke had seemed unjustifiably confident but


The kid had pulled off some sort of acrobatics,
A green lightsaber snapping through the
Murk, setting all sorts of hell in motion.

An explosion, more laser fire, and Chewie


Dangled him toward the hungry pit. Han felt
His blood warm and his chilled pulse rise:
This was his idea of a good time.
74

The Eye Candy Fights Back

A ridiculous costume
That made half her ass
Hang out. Leia didn’t
Think about the crime
And murder, the outfit
Was enough to make
Her coil the chain
Around her hands
And pull and pull and
Pull, until the fat
Bastard’s thick sloppy
Tongue came flopping
Out and the Hutt fell
Forward, dead, like any
Other slab of meat.
75

Returning to Dagobah

The jungle teemed


Outside Yoda’s hut
As the old Jedi
Faded away.

Luke stepped
Outside to find
Ben’s blue ghost
Waiting
To pass along
More revelations.

Well.

He’d wanted answers,


Hadn’t he?
76

Palpatine

All these years weighed upon him like iron,


But his hate kept him going, like a cold burn,
Allowing him to sleep little and eat less
While he pulled string after string and the
Galaxy danced on the end of his fingertips.

He knew what the Rebellion planned to do


Before they did. He gave them the information
Necessary to lull them to their own destruction,
Quite content to speed the process along.

Occasionally, though, he’d close his eyes,


Feeling his age, the burden on his shoulders,
And when Palpatine woke a moment later
He wondered if he had missed something,
If an angle remained not yet considered.
77

Grass Root Rebels

They appeared out the forest


Short furred things, half-feral,
Wearing necklaces of teeth
Carrying sharp stone weapons.

They had no use for outsiders,


Bore no deep love of humans
And had evolved on a world
So dangerous you slept in trees.
78

Story Hour With the Golden God

Night fell over the forest moon of Endor. The Ewok village gathered around the droid
they’d mistaken for a golden god and listened to the story he told, the one about the war
between the Rebel Alliance and the Empire. C-3PO told the story in translation and he
told it well. This was protocol droid’s specialty, after all; he’d been created to shine in
the arena of rhetoric, and so often he was told to shut up, interrupted in mid-sentence as
he attempted to express himself. He even told the story with sound effects, and was
gratified to see his human companions listening without the benefit of translation,
following him as raptly as the brown-eyed creatures around him. It occurred to him, as
it had more than once over the years of shuttling from world to world, that proper
communication was everything.
79

Confessions of an Imperial Guardsman

I don’t have a lot of time, okay? So I’m just going to talk and fill you in on all

the juicy behind the scenes details you probably want to know about and then I have to

hightail it back to work. I have the night shift tonight and I’ve already popped the three

different pills to stay awake for the whole thing.

First off, yes, I’m an Imperial Guardsman, and what that means is I did real

good in the Academy, top of my class, actually, and that now I serve Emperor Palpatine

directly and am loyal only to him. Yes, I wear the scarlet cape, but that doesn’t mean I

like wearing scarlet. It’s a little ostentatious, don’t you think? Hard to slip around

unnoticed when you’re dressed in this getup, I can tell you that. I feel like some sort of

exotic bird or something.

Not only am I an Imperial Guardsman, but I’m also a Sovereign Protector.

Pretty fancy, right? This means I spend my days and nights watching over the Big Man

himself. After all the holo-tabloid rumors, must be pretty curious about what Emperor

Palpatine’s like in person, but really he’s not that different from what you’d expect.

He’s pretty quiet, spends most of his time sitting in his throne and communing with the

Force, and once in a while they bring in someone special, maybe a top Rebel

commander, and he tortures them with that cool blue lightning of his. After one of these

sessions guess who gets to clean up the fried, disgusting body? That’s right, you’re

looking at him. Disposing of corpses is just another part of the job and really, you get

used to it after a while.

What else? Well, I spend a lot of time standing around looking vigilant and

keeping quiet. The Big Man hates noise; it disturbs his complex mind and gets in the
80

way of his dark scheming. You’re taught early on in the Academy that a good Royal

Guardsman is seen and not heard, and sometimes not even seen. The good thing is we

get to wear helmets that hide our faces and sometimes you can close your eyes for a

couple of seconds and nobody’s the wiser, though if the Big Man isn’t preoccupied,

you can sort of feel him poking around your brain looking for any excuse to fry your

sleepy ass. I’ve gotten good a visualizing vigilance, if you can believe that, and now

whenever I feel him poking around I just sort of go blank and scowl in a “I hate

Rebels” sort of way.

The biggest question I get is, “Does he ever sleep or does he maintain a constant

vigilance fueled by evil?” This is a ridiculous question. Of course he sleeps. He just

sleeps a lot less than a normal person, maybe five, ten minutes a week. But when he’s

out you can always tell because suddenly there’s this rumbling noise coming from the

throne and that’s him, snoring like a Wookie. The Guardsmen I work with actually

keep a betting pool going on when he’s going to fall asleep next, what day and even

what hour of the day. It’s all in good fun, right? We love the Big Guy, even if he’d snap

my neck like a twig if he ever heard about this little interview. Speaking of which, I

better go now before he gets suspicious.

What’s that? Oh, I guess I’m talking for the same reason most people talk out of

school. It’s thrilling, you know? I don’t mean anything by it. I love my job. I mean,

even with all the standing around and remaining vigilant and unpleasant corpse

removal, it’s still better than working retail.


81

The Last Temptation of Skywalker

Join us or die.

Not exactly the sort of thing


Luke Skywalker had in mind.

Sure, he could use limitless


Power, he’d like to give in
To his rage.

But he’d been brought up


Better than that
By a better man
Than anyone in this room.

It wasn’t Yoda’s training


Or Obi-Wan’s truisms
That stayed Luke’s rage.

Throughout a wasteland adolescence,


His uncle had taught him
What was right, and killing
Your own blood

Was not right.


82

The Battle of Endor

Caught between a rock and a hard place,


The Rebel fleet fought with the hunted
Desperation of a wild animal cornered
By a much larger animal, buying time,
Concentrating their fire on the biggest
Ships while praying for the destruction
Of the Death Star’s energy shield, for
The chance to make one little run into
One little gap.

Everything depended on the small


Band of troops on the ground, who
Had their own, not unformidable,
Problems to deal with.
83

The Shield Generator

So much chaos over one small building


But that was good, the chaos lended itself
To Rebellion, reducing the Empires finest
To a scrambling, over-armored mess.

You can only control the wildness inside


A sentient being’s heart for so long before
They come knocking on your door, demanding
To be let in, to blow your ordered world apart.
84

The Good in Darth Vader

Watching his son writhe


On the floor, he could not
Help but be impressed.

The boy had chosen certain death


Over power, revenge, and everything
The dark side had to offer.

Looking at the cackling Emperor,


Face distorted with malevolence,
Vader wondered if he’d been wrong.

Was it possible he’d taken the easy


Way out? That, lost in his own dark fear,
He’d chosen the path of least resistance?

Vader felt that old, pure energy rise up


Again. He lifted Palpatine above him
And staggered toward the core shaft.

Fatal fire surged through his body,


But that was okay. He’d lived a life
Filled with pain.

Why should his own redemption


Be any different?
85

Day of the Dead

They won. The second Death Star


Went up in a bloom of flame,
Much like the first. The Rebels
Gathered on Endor to celebrate
And drink to the fallen. Luke
Burned what was left of his father,
The acrid smell of plastic and metal
Rising into the cool forest night.
So many dead, crushed beneath
The heavy wheels of revolution.
Tonight the forest was thick with
Their presence, and that would
Have to be solace enough.