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!


Dora is a professor on Sabbatical, writing a book on the same time period in American Literature that I wrote my dissertation on; we sat in the hallway after yoga class, talking shop (our yoga teacher said, ‘Of course you two would find each other!’)

The Stranger: Dora 

Her Word: Concupiscence

The poem I wrote:

– All of my people have gone and
now I have plants instead

(in a crumbling blue shack, in a wet
with rain wooden gardening hut –
she wheels out her facts and their cost)

– You can raise a child in a thousand days
and then find him gone missing…

in a day I can seed one thousand
shrubs and most might live.

(somewhere in the shallow fixed   
pools of her mind

was the smudge of a boy  
who she had lost
while she was planting trees)

– I don’t believe in those things
the devil is supposed to do, those words
like concupiscence and avarice…

there are only plants here now, plants
and the people who tend them.


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