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Poet E. Briskin on navigating Seattle drivers

Each day during the month of April, KUOW is highlighting the work of Seattle-based poets for National Poetry Month. In this series curated by Seattle Civic Poet and Ten Thousand Things host Shin Yu Pai, you'll find a selection of poems for the mind, heart, senses, and soul.


n "Seattle, this poem isn't real—", E. Briskin delves into the habits of Northwest drivers who have been found in a recent independent survey from PEMCO Mutual Insurance to be less courteous and more aggressive than in recent years.

E. Briskin lives in Seattle. E.'s book "Orange" was published on March 10, 2020.

Seattle, this poem isn’t real—

for example, that thing where you don’t stop for a pedestrian at the unofficial crosswalk
but you think of yourself as someone who does stop
and you do
about 99 to 63 percent of the time and when you
don’t it’s because
it’s justified because
the car behind you seems awfully close or
there isn’t a car behind you and it’s best you keep on
going so the pedestrian’s coast will be clear so
you don’t stop
and at this point
you’re like every other driver
only better
because most drivers never stop
and the pedestrian should know
you are not like other drivers who haven’t bothered
to learn the rules. For example: A pedestrian has the right-of-way
at all intersections. And also, for example: That includes
intersections that don’t intersect! that
just T out like this one
and most drivers wouldn’t know that and the pedestrian
you would usually stop
for should know you’re knowledgeable and would usually stop
so you palm your face ooops
didn’t see you

and give a standard pac nw smile
and at that point you are finally awful
because the least you could do during 1 to
37 percent of interactions
is to let yourself be the asshole this poem isn’t
really about driving.

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