A Blog of Seattle Arts & Lectures

“Standstill / Stand Still” by Kiana Gladney

At the peak of my anxiety,
consumed by emotion,
overwhelmed by intrusive thoughts,
I’m at a standstill.

I don’t know when my home got bigger or I when I simply shrunk,
but my house is far too big for me,
and lately I feel so small.

At a standstill of uncertainty,
I’ve found that lately I’m unlike me,
and it scares me
not knowing where to go
when it seems
that my guiding compass
has led me into a trench
that stretches through the horizon.

A trench at this precipice of becoming –
this perfect ambivalence
wherein which my mind
cannot choose between
my heavy heart and my tired feet,
in their worn-out soles.

Peak achievement:
reaching the height of my goals,
not knowing what to do or how to retire now that a lifetime of work
has finally paid off.

I’ve now found
a declaration of bitterness
beyond a silky sweet facade.

I’ve now found discontentment
in such content discovery,
getting everything I’d ever wanted
all at once, and after all of that
it’s time for me to stop?

How to settle at a standstill?
I ask myself how to settle?
Because how does one stay still?
I ask myself whether it is possible,
for I cannot fathom letting go.

Stand still.

Still in my feels,
still can’t stand still,
still stranded on an island
with only a raft as strong as my resolve
and a sail pushed through the sea
via tenacity.

Stand still.

I still can’t believe
I’ve gotten to climb mountains
and to stand center stage.

I still can’t believe
I’m still here today,
thanking the heavens up above
and the ground beneath my feet
for standing firm all this time.

I still can’t believe
how blessed I am to laugh
through the pain, to sing in the rain,
to keep dancing, to know
I have friends and family
to fall back on.

I still can’t believe
I’m under spotlights
performing pieces
I thought were stationary
in my notebooks and journals.

Now I get to watch my words
take flight, like children
you’re proud to watch grow up…
and a piece of my poet heart undergoes a small transformation,
a tiny personal growth,
until one day
I’ll have books and famous quotes
as powerful as Maya Angelou.

Kiana Gladney, 2022/23 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate cohort member, read this poem to open our 2022/23 Community Curated Series event with Sasha LaPointe, Razelle Benally, Tania Larsson, and Migizi Pensoneau, on Monday, January 23, 2023. Kiana is a student at Garfield High School. Learn more about SAL’s Youth Poet Laureate program here.

Posted in Youth Poet Laureate2022/23 Season2022/23 SeasonSasha LaPointe Presents