They Told Us


Society commandeers every bit of our lives

We would never live as hermits

Or make our homes out of living trees

Because that is not what they told us to do

They force us into prisons

That we ourselves created

Without bars

Until we listen to society

And the bars appear

Trapping our lives

Because they told us


We stand like they tell us


Shoulders back

Head held high

But the people

That bullied us when we slouched

Don’t care that we look confident

They throw words and fists at our proud faces

And we can’t fight back

Because that’s not what they told us

So the bullets keep flying

Making us fall on the inside

But we can’t show it

Because they told us


We notice what they tell us

Running away from the signs they put up that say:

“Don’t go there”
But sometimes we don’t flee

We look over the fence

And we see something so horrible

That we can’t understand why it was hidden

We open our mouths to warn the world

But then the bullets come flying

And we run

We understand why they say:

“Don’t go there”

Because they told us


We go where they tell us

Because they take us everywhere

And they don’t want to take the time

To drive the car to the end of the road

And when we finally go out

On our own

And it is so wonderful

But then they drag us back

And lock us away

Because we’re not supposed to go

To see something we have dreamt of

We know that now

Because they told us


We create what they tell us

Writing essays on events that happened

200 years ago

When we would rather be painting a picture

They tell us to talk about how the world works

When we would rather be creating our own

And when they find that we have been creating these things

They tear them up

And throw them in the fire

And bash them with insults

We cry silent tears

And let our greatest achievements go to waste

Because they told us


We say what they tell us

We say the things

That people want us to say

That everyone says

But when we say something

That they don’t like

They slap us

And gag us with their cruel words

Then we cannot speak

Even when they let go

For fear of being caught again

Because they told us


We are who they tell us

We date who we do not like

Because our parents would kill us if they knew

That we loved the kid next door

And we stole a kiss with them

Behind the gym last Tuesday

When we don’t feel comfortable in our own skin

But are trapped in the body of another

And if we let the world know who we truly are

They would throw us out

And tell us to die

So we hide ourselves

Behind a fake version

Because they told us


We like what they tell us

Because sometimes everyone loves something

Dancing to it in the streets

Or gushing over it at the lunch table

And we want to lash out

Hating it with every fiber of our being

But they hold us back with ropes of steel

And we sit there in torture

Eventually growing to like it

Forgetting the things we love

That people call lame

Because they told us


We live like they tell us

They force us to act like them

Become a part of them

But they didn’t have to

We are them already

And every one of them

Is one of us

Every single time we do

One of the things we wish they wouldn’t

We put a bar on someone else’s prison

The best we can do

Is to try not to be them

And tear those bars down

Because we told us

Poetry Slam: 


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