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 I 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!


We got a public library card our first week in Hawaii; that’s how we roll. At the library, we saw a poster for a traditional Hawaiian guitarist coming to play the day after Christmas. We went. My baby guy, now three, brought his new Christmas ukulele and played it quietly in the children’s section, while the other grownups and I listened to Ian play. In between songs, he taught us what to listen for, explaining the process of his composition.

The Stranger: Ian

The Word: Fret

The poem I wrote:

“Other animals live in a world of undivided reality.” – Masanobu Fukuoka

There is a fret coming in
from the sea, saturnine
and difficult

to see through: it is
a place to fix the mind
to make the noise

we need to stay unworn
away, perfectly keyed

not to worry: for we
are still bright

blooms, unvanished
into the machinery.
Stay your hands

where they are. Something
green is being made.


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