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 ran to the bank in a flurry, looking for a notary public, and there I found Jonathan. We got to talking while he notarized and he told me a secret: that he keeps a book about vocabulary words in his desk drawer. Word-lovers of the world, unite! I thought. And asked for a word.

The Stranger: Jonathan

The Word: Grandiloquent

The poem I wrote:

School taught me that nerves
are shoots of fire that ratchet
through the body, traveling fast

in a sheath of myelin – picture
a spark sliding protected down
a water-tube, or up a tulip stem –

– and doesn’t the metaphor slam
the head like a glass bowl, how we
are just that: these shooting, firing,

ratcheting things, with only a thin
sheath of words – like sad cars
or grandiloquent boxes carrying

our fire from person to person
to person, nerving us together.


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