Two Poems | Claudine Toutoungi | Granta

Two Poems

Claudine Toutoungi


Sometimes we give them a hard time, the martyrs.
Look at you – we shout – with your tragic backstory 
and your little legs and your incompetent veins.  

Want me to knit you a hair-shirt? Sometimes we
shout that too (even though you can’t knit hair). Or 
we go Dudda Da Duuuh like we’re Beethoven’s  

Fifth Symphony kicking in. The martyrs meanwhile 
don’t abate. They are dancing across the kingdoms 
of this world and the next. They are relentless 

terpsichoreans. Even their sneezes sound like Ravel’s 
Bolero. Even the candlewax dropped on their smocks
makes ornamental masterpieces of their sleeves. 






The Leftovers 

Most of us these days are dead or on autopilot
As for the wolves – they thrive
There are too many wolves – some complain bitterly
They pad into the butchers
They make off with small inflatables and sail about 
like Vikings licking their bloody chops
Others can’t get enough of their uptick
– their soundless transition from wilderness spook 
to denizen of the high street where they glide up and 
down, up and down or bask in the rubble
while the acolytes forage like mad 
for something to offer them – Kentucky 
Fried Chicken. Small birds. 


Image © Jr Korpa

Claudine Toutoungi

Claudine Toutoungi’s poetry collections are Two Tongues (2020), winner of the Ledbury Munthe Poetry Prize 2021, and Smoothie (2017), both from Carcanet Press. She also writes for stage and radio and her plays include Slipping, Deliverers, The Inheritors and Bit Part.

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