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 do long-lost familiars become strangers? Ruth and I took the same creative writing class in college, then 14 years later I saw her in Harvard Square. We reintroduced ourselves. She is now an astrophysicist. I remember in college that she wrote about stars.

The Stranger: Ruth

Her Word: Crackle

The poem I wrote:

When you live
one or two galaxies over
it is hard to measure
how fast the youngest stars
run out to do
their roughhousing – their disks
around them like hula-hoops,
their infinite questions
about spin, water, evolution:
How do we ever answer
as they shine up at us,
a crackle in our best theories –
we could say there are seeds
of you already,
born deep into the dust:
but they never will believe us
as they stand there writing
haiku to planets,
turning their small faces
closer to the sun.

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