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!


“Do I know you?” Michelle asked as I hauled an armful of cookbooks into Andrade’s Mexican restaurant. My person and I were on a date. We were spending it sorting out our family meal plan, a practical and exceedingly adult task that led to our babysitter raising an eyebrow and saying, “Well, as long as it’s fun.” Michelle, who worked at the restaurant, did look familiar – we traced the recognition to a pregnancy yoga class we both did well over a year ago, when she was just about to have her boy and I was the newest class member. So we introduced ourselves and showed photos, and I had a fantastic meal and now have a family meal plan! Triumph.

The Stranger: Michelle

Her Word: Bonita

The poem I wrote:

My life is my children,
she said. My life is
my art. My life is
food or some other
thing I’ve made,
and I understood
how roofs hang low
with the darling grapes
of our clever seeds.
Poems are moments
swelling and near-burst:
without the moment
there is no poem. Only
lettered poets clanging
around theoreticals
like chained angry ghosts.
Try saying, Oh yes,
there is something bonita
here. Fill in the blank:
My life is. My life. To Is
is something luscious.
If your life is anything
you are better off
than most.

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