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!


In Sonoma, where all of the vineyards look like something out of a “Much Ado About Nothing” set, we stopped by a winery called Chateau St. Jean. Around us stretched endless gardens and the thought of leaving them felt like an expulsion. It was morning, and my friend and I stayed a long time, sampling wines and talking with Kevin, who worked there.

The Stranger: Kevin

His Word: Dogma

The poem I wrote:

There will always be roads
whose endings plunge
into slate and graphite,

and roads that bloom open
like a perfect vine of grapes.

But pause: we are foolish
in pretending that we choose
just one road at a time

when (closed/open) are two
earth-poles that we have known
always – for life is a series

of wombs and we are always
being expelled from one
or another: each with its own

striated rhythm, its costume-
shops filled floor-to-ceiling
with new dogmas – and don’t

these roads knot into exquisite
reunions at each crossing: a life
of adventure, a life of safety –

like wine and cheese,
they beg for each other.


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