Poetry for Strangers is about finding inspiration in community, in people, in the chance encounters of everyday life. PFS suggests that every person can be a “muse” of a poem. Every week of this year I will ask a stranger for a single word and then write a poem inspired by the word. I invite you to do the same.

Share your poem on this week’s word!


My daughter and I flew over the ocean to meet her godfather—who is quite possibly her favorite person on earth—for a week in his home of Liechtenstein. We took a train to Vienna too, and there we ate chocolate and jams for breakfast-lunch-and-dinner and we also met one of his favorite people, Vera. The café where we met was famous for its Kaiserschmarrn (Austrian pancakes), but Vera ordered Apfelstrudel, a most delicious apple and raisin pastry.

The Stranger: Vera

Her Word: Apfelstrudel

The poem I wrote:

But there are always so many
answers to the centenarian
question: and who will not
in the end crisp and melt
like a half-eaten dessert?

Yes, life is short. Yes, we’re
all wrong on most things.
Yes, I will walk and not run,
I will eat too much apfelstrudel
and drink coffee too, living out
my years committed to my flaws.

You do what you must do.
Whatever life is I want to have
as much as of it as possible
and I want to write about it.


The Challenge: Do you have a poem in you on this word? Write one here.