2019 Fall Contest Winner: 3rd Place, Poet’s Choice

My Selfie Poem

by Cynthia Jacobi

I have middle aged children

I wonder at their infant survival under my care

      and wish I could do it over

My thoughts skip and pause

      as might a yellow pencil

      put to lined paper

I remember a collage of shoes

      lost front teeth

      report cards driving lessons

      first heartbreak

I write free form poetry

      It’s playing tennis without a net

      To quote Robert Frost

I must squint to focus

      and focus to be grateful

Starflowers of love returned shimmer

      in my silver hair

I breathe deep with acceptances

I have stashed an egg of barbed wire

      on a high shelf

a chalice of questions without answers

Poet bio

Cynthia Jacobi lives on the central Oregon Coast. She is a mixed media artist as well as a poet. She cannot imagine being as happy living anywhere else.

2019 Fall Contest, Poet’s Choice: Honorable Mentions and Judge’s Comments

1st Honorable Mention: “Barbizon Nightgowns” by Sandra Rokoff-Lizut, McMinnville, OR

2nd Honorable Mention: “Do Not Be Afraid” by Michael Hanner, Eugene, OR

3rd Honorable Mention: “Death’s Usher” by Jessica Mehta, Hillsboro, OR

Judge’s comments

There were so many great poems in the selection for Poet’s Choice that it made deciding difficult. When reading I was looking for original imagery, things I hadn’t seen or read before. I was also looking for strong personal narratives that were honest and open about a fully lived life, unique voices with unique insights. I believe the poems I chose have those qualities, poems that are candid, lush and real. As only one reader and only one judge for the category, I’d like to apologize for being fickle and prone to liking what I like and gravitating toward poems I ineffably find beautiful. I wish I could have picked them all!

—Carl Adamshick

2019 Fall Contest Winner: 1st Place, Members Only

You Never Can Replace a Dog You Love

—for Dougal

by David Hedges

You never can replace a dog you love,

It doesn’t matter, purebred, mongrel, stray,

Who fits your disposition hand-in-glove.

You find your mind is part and parcel of

The one who teaches you to skip and play.

You never can replace a dog you love

Whose love is unconditional, above

The fray, the one the photographs portray

Who fits your disposition hand-in-glove.

Grief is a rock, a spear, a hawk, a dove,

Drops of vermillion, indigo, and gray.

You never can replace a dog you love.

You try to keep yourself from thinking of

The mind behind those eyes, the quirks, the way

They fit your disposition hand-in-glove.

You let time pass; push comes to shove.

Though you may love another dog one day,

You never can replace the dog you love

Who fit your disposition hand-in-glove.

Judge’s comments

So many fine poems were submitted in the Members Only category that I was hard-pressed to rank the winners and honorable mentions. Ultimately, I awarded First Place to “You Never Can Replace a Dog You Love.” The poem expresses a heartfelt universal sentiment about people’s love of dogs in a seamless, fluidly rhymed villanelle (and I’m not a dog person). Anyone who has tried to execute this challenging form will appreciate the poet’s mastery.

Leah Stenson

Poet bio

David Hedges has placed poems in Poetry, Measure, Poet Lore, Light Quarterly, and, closer to home, Calapooya Collage, Left Bank, and Windfall. His latest book, Prospects of Life After Birth, appeared in April, 2019. He served on the Oregon Poetry Association board for 24 years, six as president, and on the Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission board. In 2003, he received the Stewart H. Holbrook Literary Legacy Award for his contributions to Oregon’s literary life.