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!


Antonio coaches triathletes (including my husband). I met him on flu shot day: in our family, the first person to get a flu shot gets the biggest ice cream cone afterward. As we dripped our cones down the street in the crispy-red fragrant final days of fall, my husband suggested we pop across the street and say hi to Antonio. Antonio welcomed us warmly (even though we were sticky, especially our daughter who got the first shot). We stood and talked for a bit about why he started TriTown, Idaho’s first triathlon store.

The Stranger: Antonio

His Word: Endure

The poem I wrote:

There are stories about
She who her father chased
Because her finger fit
A ring: stories too
Of the girl her father
Sold to a beast for a rose.
I tell them to my children
Though they don’t like
Listening. They pat the dog,
Inquire about dinner.
I talk against their sleep.
I talk into the flames.
I talk boring holes into
Their sweet skulls.
They endure, barely.
In stories we blame the father
Because we don’t want
To blame ourselves
For seeing the trick here,
The reason girls choose
The real estate of beasts
Rather than their home
Cottages: The Antagonist.
Anti-anything, otherwise
You’re gone from the
Human race, you have
Nothing to offer, no square
Story to tell. Listen,
Children: each of these is
The story of the beast.
Your beast. The beast at home.
The beast who raised you.
The beast your gamble,
Even if it killed you.
The beast who ensured
With love that you would become
Something or someone,
Once upon a time.

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