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 took our Labrador puppy to Pete at Goosebusters, a bird-dog training facility in New Plymouth, Idaho, to teach her to be a good dog. We weren’t interested in the birds; we just wanted Posy to be a creature who we could live with, who would not bite the baby’s ears or pee on the floor or eat socks whole and vomit them up a day later. Pete knows dogs and knew how to train ours and how to train us. Posy the puppy came back to us this month, a very good dog.

The Stranger: Pete

His Word: Dog

The poem I wrote:

“Keep her thinking about the bird.” – Pete


When the night woke me
a second time
I sat up counting
how many dog years
I’ll get to be with you:
you, who rise in the night
when our creatures call,
giving me
the gift of mornings.

I think of your birds and mine.
You are full of dreaming noises, you have
a feather in your mouth
again and the bird
is still alive
somewhere. I am lost
in all that we learn
from them:
to move fast
when people are watching,
to watch that bird
with the singlemindedness
of geniuses; this
is the thing that gives a life spine.
To keep chasing that thing
that flies away
and keep thinking
like a dog
about that bird.

You move in your sleep, untrained.
Shake off
the lake, shake the bird,
come here, come running, lie down
sweet creature, nobody
is watching, please just

You have a feather in your mouth
again and the bird
is still alive
somewhere. Didn’t I
say that already?

When the bird sings
answer the call
just like a dog.


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