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!


Joyce was a poem in herself, sitting alone at a table at Dawson’s Downtown Coffee House, waiting for a friend and affectionately heckling the baristas, all of whom she appeared to know well. In fact, she knew everybody in the shop and seemed like a person who needed a poem written about her. In writing the poem, I tried to use only words that she spoke.

The Stranger: Joyce

Her word: Happy

The poem I wrote:

I didn’t want to be
queen of the coffee shop

but Lydia made me.
A word? Be happy –
I’m eighty-two, that’s all
I’ve got. You know

this is the best coffee.
You know I drank it

when you could buy it
at a stand on Main Street.
An email? Ask anyone
here – everyone knows
where to find me. Oh

excuse me. There’s
my friend, behind you.

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