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 Idaho we have hot springs that send steam out of the ground and are great for soaking in the winter. Some are au natural and feel like secrets in the mountains, and others are paved and feel like spas. We went to a spa-one last weekend. The man at the front desk said that most days he works in the back doing paperwork, not up front where he gets to see people. “At this moment,” he said, “I am enjoying the people.”

The Stranger: Wyatt

His Word: Elbow

The poem I wrote:

Worlds are not crowded,
they are merely full: each self
a bit of debris floating

in our current. Room almost
for all. Oh, the art of water
keeps eluding me

but still at times I see
how it works: how nothing
matters more than you

and you and you, all elbow
to elbow with a hundred
other swimmers, hidden
in the purpling fog.


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