They Told Us

They told us we were special,

Each gift-wrapped like collectables, scraping ink into

papers on tables with cries for help engraved

into tainted wood.


They told us we had talent,

From colouring inside the lines,

bringing outlines to life, with rainbows

and felt-tips, tip-toeing across the blank


Like crowds, protesting, chaos

over what were quiet streets.


They told me I’d be famous

my words would make me noticed,

that I’m clever, that I’m worthy.

Now I’m a number, now I’m a document,

a file on a screen.

Out of chance, out of luck

my name might not be seen.


A poem about growing up, being told by teachers you’re clever, being told a degree will get you a great job, being told by adults when you’re young that you can do anything.

Then realising it’s not quite that easy. 


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