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poetry Driving While Black and Jewish

Nothing pushes the panic button faster than the sound of a police siren coming up behind you, as New York-based poet Esther Cohen reports.

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Driving While Black and Jewish

By Esther Cohen

Khanyi is getting her license this summer

we went out to practice her driving

even though I am not an A Plus driver

I like driving in the country

no traffic beautiful roads I’ve never been on before even now

she said we have to practice what we’ll say

to a police officer if we’re stopped because we are

driving while Black and Jewish and then she said

No Politics No Chit Chat Don’t Make Friends

we have to be calm and complacent said Khanyi

20 years old now and we practiced silence

failed at that we both love to talk

rode around for a while gorgeous evening

she was driving up a long country road no people

no cars we were discussing every possible thing

we heard a siren and Khanyi who is half Zulu

she is dark and very very beautiful she turned

almost white began to sweat and her eyes and her mouth

opened wide and we saw an emergency vehicle with a siren

accompanying a car go right past us right by

and I said Do You Want Me to Drive Now and we

both laughed and laughed and she said Yes.

Esther Cohen publishes a poem everyday at

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