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!


“I’ve been coloring my hair for thirty years!” Robyn exclaimed. She was working the check-out at a sports store where I was buying my mother a scarf. She had pink braids with strands of blue and purple. Her hair was cotton-candy, it was delicious. But she told me that an employer once refused to hire her because she had two-color hair. (“But what about people with salt and pepper hair?” she wanted to know.)

The Stranger: Robyn

Her Word: Flabbergast

The poem I wrote:

There are days
she does not like me,
but mostly I am fine:
I throw gray cautions
like pebbles
as she in the red
boots jumps
off rocks. For me

to say “you could
fall” is pure
pretend: I lose her
to my gibberish, to the flabbergast
of my vertiginous

To fall is real.
She jumps: her evidence. No fall.

Who wouldn’t run
beyond my words?
I trust words
like rocks
but in truth they are airy

ghosts, looking only
behind. She
is making up her own
vocabulary and so must I:
a lexicon of letting go

of her
one boot at a time.


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