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!


“Let’s go eat rainbow popcorn,” suggested my daughter as she hopped in the car after school. I had been planning to give her a choice between several edifying activities such as going to the library or for a romp in the kids’ pool at the Y. But her suggestion made me pause.

How did she come up with the idea of rainbow popcorn? Does Boise even have rainbow popcorn? One google later and we were en route to Cracklin Gourmet Popcorn, where she and I tasted flavors such as Dr. Pepper and Really Dilly, and where we met…

The Stranger: Gena 

Her Word: Exquisite

The poem I wrote:

Flying over cities
you see lights

splitting the dark

like mapped-out

their ribbon
roads lit up:

there were deserts
here once
but men drew

lines across
the sand, paved
squares across
exquisite dunes,

towers that
scratch up

toward sky—

don’t we know
how up on high
the brain scratches

plans that the body
will never approve.


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