Queen's Quarterly

Queen's Quarterly
Queen's Quarterly


Michael Oliver

In high school
I played basketball
Throughout the early 1960s,
Scoring more
Than 20 points a game,
While our team
Won many tournaments.
Four icy winters
Travelling in cars
Through blinding snowstorms,
Or on fishing boats
Upon the Bay of Fundy,
Late at night in seasick weather …
Long ago, when time was just beginning

I believe
That I learned something
That is still important:

How to Shoot a Jump Shot

Six inches off the floor,
Where time does not exist,
And arc the ball
Toward the basket
In slow motion –
Giving it a backspin
With your fingertips …

Descending then
To wait to see the ball swish –
And to hear the cheering
As the buzzer sounds and time runs out forever …


Michael Oliver’s poems have appeared in various journals and anthologies, such as the Fiddlehead, Canadian Literature, and I Found It at the Movies: An Anthology of Film Poems. He has also published two monographs on the poetry of Alden Nowlan, and recently selected and edited the poems for The Essential Kay Smith, published by Porcupine’s Quill in 2019. He lives in Saint John, New Brunswick, with his wife Patricia.