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!


Cynthia and I bonded at the Whole Foods River Room while talking about books and beer, academic trajectories that took unexpected turns, and a former life in Texas. She gave me this word the same week my family lost our gentle, good, old dog.

The Stranger: Cynthia

The Word: Crestfallen

The poem I wrote:

Since you died I have had
dreams of snow

falling like tennis balls,
stacking up to the sky,

trapping us in, and for
some reason I hold

not a shovel but a camera.
Around me are hills

combed with white,
soft Labrador white.

Somewhere in it all
you are there, deserving.

Forgive me. I am just human
and not even great

at that. We do our business
inside, safe from

this beastly cold, at times
crestfallen, but often not.

I dream my way back,
wishing to give you a gift,

something evergreen,
something else.

I tried to take a picture
of the sun, and it worked.


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