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 high school I tried to get a job at a gas station. I thought it would give me clout and sex appeal if I knew how to fix cars. They didn’t hire me. The head mechanic actually told me, “We don’t hire girls.” Twenty years later, I was sitting in a restaurant when a waitress asked if I’d help jump her car. Her car died while she was parked next to me. “I warn you,” I said. “I don’t actually know how to do this.” “Oh, I do,” she said. “I used to work at a gas station fixing cars.”

The Stranger: Brittany

Her Word: Dutch

The poem I wrote:

Poems carry water
on their heads
like strong-backed
girls. Poems
save the village
in times of drought.
They cure us
when we think
we’ve sweated it all
out, when we
fall in dutch
and lose our plot.
You are still
a good poem,
like all the best
poems, carrying
the well-being
of the world
always on your head
like water.

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