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!


When I was in my early 20s I took belly-dancing classes because one of my idols, a lawyer by day, happened to be a belly-dancing teacher by night. I adored the dance but could never quite master the shimmy. Recently I had the chance to watch belly-dancing – very good belly-dancing that involved some serious shimmying plus several feats of balance, such as swords balanced on the dancers’ heads. My favorite of the dances was a family affair: the owners of the dance studio and their two grown sons all danced together. It was really cool. One of the sons was named…

The Stranger: Shamiko

His Word: Community

The poem I wrote:

Of course all fairy tales end here,
with quiet after such toil. Sun’s set
and the heroes have all gone home,
run for city council and joined community
activities instead of the blood-quests
of their brave boyhood. We wait
while our children take swim-lessons
and we make lentil soup, mash
it up for baby food. Always watchful,
waiting for the next quest. Why spend
such energy? At some point all
the ghosts we’ve made will come
dance with us, and our sole job
is to keep quiet enough to entice
them to keep questing, keep being wild
and leaving their ancestors at home,
at last, alone and animally quiet.

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