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!


While visiting my family in Texas, we stopped one night at the iconic Amy’s Ice Cream Shop in downtown Austin, where the man behind the counter was tossing and catching scoops of ice cream like they were baseballs. His name, he said, was his mother’s gift; she named him for his dad who taught English and loved to write. This word grew into a good witchy poem, like “Ryba.”

The Stranger: Poet

The Word: Frenetic

The poem I wrote:

I have cleaned my life
of bedrooms
and beans—
said goodbye
to all frenetic things—
so now an empty sack,
this shriveled purse
without seeds;
there will be no
more rooting,
this marks the end
of my red. Some other
woman or ogre
will rise from this
unweeping soil:
Hear me, mother—
groaning, croning,
the cock at dawn.

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