ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Al Maginnes

The Bendable Posable Jesus of Nazareth Ponders Salvation

Because I was made in the shape of man, I cannot help
but know a few things—like how quickly the physical will
be discarded. And I know if objects are tossed

so easily, the things of spirit like ignored as well, meaning,
some might say, salvation is impossible. Yet men pray
and women too for their souls to be recycled,

to be made into the new clear containers they imagine when
they toss their empties in the recycling bin. Even while the sky works
to heal the holes burned into it by gas fumes, hairspray, cow farts.

Like souls, the ozone gets no band aids. It would be better
to sweep your floor than spend time praying aloud. 
The worst sin in when the food gets cold. 

You should listen to me. I don’t
glow in the dark for no reason at all.


The Bendable, Poseable Jesus of Nazareth Gets Ready to Pray

My legs, unsteady as soda straws, must sprawl wide in order
for me to kneel and stay upright. My plastic hands, with
their unbending fingers, clap together. I don’t know exactly

what to ask for, but my position in the kingdom of toys
and my spot on this shield depends on
my ability to do what other souvenirs cannot.

Baptism only gets you wet hair or, if you belong
to the full immersion crew, soaked clothes.
My job is partly to convince prayers can be

answered without pain. Why else to my limbs
bend so? Yesterday I was wrapped around a lamp
and never uttered a word about holy light.

So use me to ask for anything you like.
I will bend all the ways I can.


The Bendable Poseable Jesus of Nazareth Listens to the Neighbors Get A New Roof

It’s easy enough to get me to spread my arms
in the shape of a cross or to bend one foot over the other,
but when the hammers start their old two-four

I wrap my arms around me like and curl my legs
under my trademarked butt. My hands remember curling
around the nails until my fingers were blue

and broken. Preachers will tell you I had so much love
I martyred myself for all your sins, volunteered for
the nails, the beatings, the vinegar sponge,

the stinking tomb. But I don’t recall it that way.
It was good preaching love and sharing to those
willing to listen.  I never thought such a simple set of truth

could be outlawed and corrupted. But right now, if I had
the powers I was said to have, I’d dissolve those hammers.


Al Maginnes: "My tenth collection, Fellow Survivors: New and Selected Poems, appeared in spring of 2023.  Recent poems appear in Salt, Cimarron Review, eratio and many others. I’m recently retired from teaching and live in Raleigh NC."

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