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!


One year ago, our family had fifteen minutes of fame when the tiny backyard studio we built was featured on Tiny House Hunting. Fast forward to this summer. On the beach in Cape Cod, we were recognized. It was by a couple walking their dog on a beach where seals are often seen—I had just seen two rise up, then a third that seemed especially large and abnormally long (turned out to be a rock). When we met Sonia and her husband, their dog had made the same mistake I had made and was determinedly focused on the unmoving “seal.”

The Stranger: Sonia

Her Word: Ephemeral

The poem I wrote:

We face the ocean
nights to see

the waves fail:
ephemeral as us,

hardly obsessed
with being alive.

Never will it keep
but still

there is nothing
in the world

like being awake.


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