The Eleventh Commandment

by Neil McCarthy

I never thought I'd miss the sound of church bells, 

reminding me of my sudden apostasy, 

faintly ringing over the rumpus where even the 

birds can't get a word in edgeways. 

I think of Protestant churches and the horse 

chestnut trees that hide them, their gravel paths less

worn than those of their Catholic brethren.

In my memory it's always late October. 

Tonight I walked through the big wind; the 

unexpected gusts that blasted with pleasure

the street where the palms shed their garb.

I battled north on Sunset, watched the fire truck

barge its way through the lights on Coronado,

threw my head into a bar before happy hour

ended to find The Quiet Man projected onto the 

back wall, just in time to see Seán Thornton's 

lean-in-to-kiss; Mary Kate pure as a storm 

in the graveyard's alluring loneliness. 

Entranced by the projection, I watched the 

grainy landscape of my past silently flow 

across the wall in Technicolor, disturbed now

and again by the ripple of a passing shadow, 

a head-turning siren from the street, the fancy

footwork of the wind jabbing at the door as

Seán Thornton was laid out across the floor. 

I wanted him to be in my shoes, reverse the roles- 

an Irishman walloped by America, 

having broken every Commandment bar one.

And here, though thou shall not complain 

about the weather, the sound of traffic drums as 

consistently as rain carried in on a south-westerly,

as we hold a finger to our lips 

to silence the misguidance of our gods.