Posted December 18, 2019.

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.

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