Two Poems by Jamie McKendrick

cervantes final size

Something More


“Thou must take notice, brother Sancho, that this adventure and those like it are not
adventures of islands, but of cross-roads, in which nothing is got except a broken head and
an ear the less: have patience, for adventures will present themselves from which I may make
you not only a governor but something more.”

We could have lived quite well on Sancho’s island,
his governance more competent than ours.
There’d be a welcome party on the strand
for the rafts of Indians, Moriscos, Moors.

But now we must abide at cross-roads,
under a sad flag, awaiting adventures,
with the eternal promise of ‘something more’.
A stove-in helmet, a half-severed ear,
and the dust of a mule track our only reward.

 
 
 
 

A Bad Name

Months had passed without a single word to greet my latest production. Then one morning, in
a national newspaper, I saw with relief the title of my book. But where the author’s name
should be I read in astonishment Slackmore Snagglebooth. After some sly merriment at the
expense of the name, that I now realised was bound to stick, the reviewer became serious:
"We could wish Snagglebooth some adversity in his future, as on the evidence of this work
little seems to have ruffled his affluent composure..." Well thanks for that – a hex on top of a
hatchet job.

When my companion read the piece she gave a discreet chuckle, then seeing my expression,
she straightened her mouth and said "When the dogs bark, that means you're really moving."
Apparently something from Therbantes.  She explained that those were Sancho Panza's
words of encouragement to Don Quixote. If she remembered right, it was when the Don was
galloping away at what he took to be breakneck speed, mounted on the clapboard flanks of a
rocking horse.

Jamie McKendrick

About Jamie McKendrick

Jamie McKendrick was born in Liverpool in 1955. He is the author of six collections of poetry, including The Marble Fly (1997), winner of the Forward Prize for Best Collection and a Poetry Book Society Choice; Ink Stone (2003), shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize and the Whitbread Poetry Award; and Crocodiles & Obelisks, shortlisted for the Forward Prize. Out There (2012) won the Hawthornden Prize. An earlier selection of his poems was published as Sky Nails (2000), and he is editor of 20th-Century Italian Poems (2004). The Embrace, his translations of Valerio Magrelli's poetry, won the Oxford-Weidenfeld and the John Florio prizes.