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!


I stopped by The Peanut Shop in downtown Boise to get a gift, and Dan gave me a dozen spicy samples, the most surprising of which was a collaboration with a beer-maker. This led to a conversation about intriguing collaborations.

The Stranger: Dan

The Word: Conundrum

The poem I wrote:

I uprooted them, the slugs,
from their painless dirt home—
to line them up by size
on my arm, wrist to elbow,
and show them off. Patient
are the adults who have seen
many slugs. Devoted are
the children who tolerate
such slime. Choiceless
are the slugs, inventoried.
A conundrum, how to live
in the space between devoted,
patient, and slug. In the heat
of the backyard, how far
we inch away, how silently
we grown up clean. We will
look backward twenty years
and tell stories of childhood
as if it were make believe, as if
this beast we hold, this now,
did not quite fit in our arms.

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