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!


It didn’t take long for the elevator to break again. This time I was not in it and the fire department did not come. I was downstairs with a stroller containing my baby and a bunch of farmer’s market bags. I loitered in the lobby, thinking about those five flights of stairs. While I waited, this week’s stranger entered the lobby to check her mail. I told her about the elevator. She offered to help me carry everything up to Floor 5. And we did: I carried the stroller and she carried the baby. I learned that she is originally from Montana; we talked about the brightness of the stars.

The Stranger: Adan

Her Word: Fortuitous

The poem I wrote:

Mountains tell of villages
not the whole wide world.
Sagebrush tastes of winter
no matter the time of year.
If you keep traveling west
eventually you’ll fall back
into yesterday; of directions
it is the fortuitous one. West
waits heavy with unborn hours
kicking alive on the other side
of the continent. It waits
in darkness for the news,
reading the stars like a magazine.

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