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!


Oh boy.

I asked for it because it seemed the biggest word challenge yet – to write a poem using the word ascites (hint: it is a gastroenterological term). I heard two doctors debating this: does ascites make you feel queasy, or because of its golden and frothy texture, does it make you want to drink a beer?

The stranger: Matt

The word: Ascites

The poem I wrote:

Please just sit still here
in your old tighty-whities,

and be patient while
we drain out your ascites.

In the big book of health,
this is only a slight breeze –

it’s not as if we’ve
diagnosed you with night-fleas

(and those itch bad, like a curse
from, what’s-her-name, Aphrodites?)

If your gut feels like grapeskin,
then for now sit tight, please.

You’ll be just fine.

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