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!


We were sticky with chocolate as we walked out of Burdick, the master chocolatier in Harvard Square. We were a pack 5-strong, relatives and friends and my daughter, the token toddler, stickiest of all.

Von saw us struggling to clean her up and he came over – first to help clean, and then to offer her a chocolate mouse with round almond ears. “I’m the oldest of five siblings,” he said by way of explanation.

The Stranger: Von

The Word: Dissonance

The poem I wrote:

Is there dissonance
in the breaks

Or is there just quiet
mastery, sifting

Through sand
measuring shells?

She masters shells
each morning

While the rest
of us seagull out

Other men’s words
as the tide roars

Or whispers and we
cannot tell the difference.


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