Shooting Baskets with Mike – by Travis Stephens

Shooting Baskets with Mike

Imagine a basketball court set
high up the flanks
of a deserted island,
surrounded by blue-cold seas.
Make it an outdoor court,
sheets of one-inch plywood
laid over oak beams set on rock,
two hoops & netting strung behind.
Now put yourself there
the first good week of April,
sunny and sixty degrees,
too early for flies.
You shoot baskets
with an old friend,
shooting with nothing to prove.
He hits three twenty-footers in a row
as you rebound and cheer. Then you
shoot your own set of net swishers
before you both pause to look up
from the court,
across the tops of graceful cedars,
across the deep blue of ocean below.
You shoot and dance the dribble,
fake, and shoot the day away.
Last I knew
he is a hydrologist in Arizona
knowing steady work
& where to find it.
I have not been to Canada
in a dozen years,
but I know where to find it;
in the thump-patter
of a friendly game,
no one keeping score.

Travis Stephens is a tugboat captain who resides with his family in California. A graduate of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, recent credits include: Gyroscope Review, 2River, Gravitas, Sheila-Na-Gig, Raw Art Review, Crosswinds Poetry Journal, Sky Island Journal, and The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature.

Artist Statement: The speaker summons a moment, a place and time, as though he calls each detail into existence. He conjures the scene, adding elements to give color and texture to what feels like a memory of beauty and joy. A moment untainted by anything from the outside world. An unspoiled moment in time that he can revisit over and over, simply by closing his eyes. I imagine a secret cove or craggy inlet. A serendipitous shipwreck that, despite circumventing your plans, delivers you to a place you didn’t know you longed to be.
Art: “Salvage,” 2020 (Inverness, California)