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 the town where I grew up we have a theater called the Alamo Drafthouse where you can watch a movie while sampling creative milkshakes, good beer, movie-themed meals. Every Tuesday before 2pm is “Baby Day.” (The theater issues refunds to people who buy tickets to Baby Day movies on accident, as one never knows if the audience will be louder than the movie.) My mom and I decided to take my baby to watch The Martian. Nicole was the server in charge of the (small) Baby Day audience; she was good-natured and superbly patient, and she brought my 16-month-old son his first milkshake. We stayed the whole time.

The Stranger: Nicole

Her Word: Fortuitous

The poem I wrote:

Science experiments
in our house
happen by chance
not design: fortuitous
that the mold
on last week’s lemon
turns blue not green,
and it’s anyone’s guess
why you see
two monkeys
in the bathtub,
a baby sticking out
of the chimney,
the rest of the family
seated on the roof.
It is all better
than being on Mars.
It is a pleasure to
rest among
the minnowy
shadows our
dying trees cast,
playing each day
one hypothesis
at a time.

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