'Rules of the Road'

Finis Origine Pendet

Kendrah Su ’22
May 11, 2021
Kendrah Su

This summer, I learned to drive the people I love out of my life. To the rock-studded shores of Galveston

   beach, high tide murmuring

I come bearing gifts. Hurricane Laura’s leftovers of murky 

   water, plastic nooses,

pier splinters fished out from between crooked teeth

riggings unraveled from the seams of the Gulf Coast, 

   whose coastlines crumble under the leaning timbers of 

   homes that never healed.

Budweiser shards glint like the stained glass hands of 

   Jesus himself, prying the wooden beams of a Louisiana 

   church apart,

a brown body on brown cross drags itself onto sand.

The trip back is always shorter.


On the back window of a lemon yellow sportscar, a coiled 

   constrictor’s fangs open in black ink

Don’t tread on me. An army of red brake lights gleam

Right blinker on, check the rearview, the side mirror, over

   the shoulder

Of the highway, reverse here if you’ve missed your exit.

Glue each car’s headlights to the bumper in front of them 

   and all eyes on you.

Below, the nation’s veins unfurl in hazy red-and-white 

   lights in a hurry to return home

Crash through the guardrails. Learn the sensation of 

   flight, of free-fall, the only drop-tower outside a

   theme park.

Beeline for the yellow car. Plow right into the side, your 

   car is bigger, he’s probably not buckled up.

Grip drifts from ten and two to Chick-fil-A Sundays: off 

   the clock. Honk honk honk. Stay in your lane, bitch!


Eyes up, past the boarded-up businesses on Main Street, 

   the shattered windshields of cop cars, the two crowds 

   of protestors

Unaware of the other until convergence around a corner.

And they do not run as if the police finally came, when 

   you’d try to

Cross the blurred line between villainy and heroism, 


Fairy godmother curled into the pistol muzzle, bones 

   stronger than a riot shield and

Lighter than conscience.

Flee not as if rubber bullets nip their heels before 

   ricocheting into flesh, eruption to

Face the music of strangers down the street, of feet 

   pounding asphalt into angry welts


Opposite sides embrace, long-lost lovers melting into one 

   another’s arms as home

became unwelcome, and solace found herself in the 

   streets we drive past.

I don’t want to hear about this George Troy guy under 

   my roof!


No sirens. A hearse to the house across from us.

A procession in silence, in masks, bloated eyebags, 

   stained T-shirts, and flip-flops.

I ask my friends at drivers ed Where will we go? with that 

   vertical ID granting sixteen-year-olds

the greatest freedom imaginable.

The new water park, SAT practice, to work, to the 

   protests, to Galveston, to the border, ’cause why the 

   hell not?

To my boyfriend’s house, to my girlfriend’s house, to no 

   one’s house because I have no friends in this hellhole 

   suburb and live only through unspoken thoughts, a 

   fantasy where

Hearses do not escort my neighbor Vivian

Miss Laura’s victims

or George Floyd.

Instead, the casket fills with what I wish

I could say,

Stop the car.


Editor's Note: Kendrah Su ’22 was awarded a gold medal in the 2021 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards for this poem

This article first appeared in the spring 2021 issue of The Exeter Bulletin.