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 met Lisa at a party—she was leaving as I arrived, and we did a speed-intro and I understood quickly that she was a total badass, having co-founded Global Talent Idaho, whose mission is to “help skilled refugees and immigrants reclaim professional careers while boosting the talent pool in Idaho,” after which she went onto start another venture, Figure 8 Investment Strategies. Our brief conversation left me thinking about how place influences identity, and how we must adapt with resourcefulness and humility from one environment into another.

The Stranger: Lisa

The Word: Dignity

The poem I wrote:

Then there are days
when you have twenty years
outlived yourself—here
in old clothes stripped
of your native dignity.
Your soul one degree short
of flying out the chimney;
without witness your hands
might be wings. Crafts fall
second choice, after a life
of first choices. Tell one
person who once you were,
what labor you knew. Say,
there is more to know
than this quiet folding
of birds, and then the hiding.
Birds under the sheet, birds
wetted from the bath,
more birds in the room
than we know.

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