Being Human

By Shelly Lyons

“Sometimes I sleep with the tv on all night so I won’t feel so alone,” 
he confesses, wanting to share his loneliness.

I prefer going to sleep to music, I tell him, 
hoping the songs and their world will float 
into my dreams to shape them.

I’ve slept alone since before I was born,
so it’s not being alone that I am scared of,
no, that’s the easiest thing in the world.
my fear is having to 
share space and air and life with others,
because then my nerves can’t sleep or even take a rest – 
I must be ever aware
so I can be right,
breathe right… speak right… move right…
interact in this world in the right way,
so I’ll be accepted and included and maybe even sought after…

The music accepts me,
urges me to sing along and join the game,
but even alone with it
I blush when I sing the wrong words at the wrong time, 
burn with the shame of making a mistake,
of letting it be known that my brain works
a little differently than anyone else’s.

Yet I am so lenient,
accepting and forgiving of others, 
because mistakes by them are just 
real life,
perfectly okay and human,
but I am so scared of making a mistake, 
looking the fool, making bad impressions, turning people away,
of forgetting what to do or how to do it,
or what to say or who to be – 
it’s easier, much easier,
to hide in the shadows and soak up everyone else’s lives,
just hoping that someday 
I’ll learn how to live
and just be human. 


Shelly Lyons is a writer and teacher from North Carolina. She has been a life-long writer who’s especially partial to poetry and short stories but is now working on her first novel. She’s had a variety of poems and articles published both online and in print through the years.

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