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 was invited by my friend Karen to visit two of her 7th grade classes to talk about poetry. As part of our discussion, we brainstormed words, wrote poems, and read a few aloud. Each class voted on a word to inspire this week’s poem. Among the non-winning-but-worthy words: flex-tape, tide-pod, basketball, homework.

The Stranger: Fairmont Jr. High 7th grade Accelerated English

The Word: Class 1: Ice cream | Class 2: Heartless

The poem I wrote:

In a tower it is easy
to be heartless
because the world
below is. Still
there are baskets
of slapping fish tails
and people trading coins.
Ruts dug deep into
old earth. Somewhere
a baby squalls. Here
are fortune tellers,
ice cream stalls, hiding
places enough to do
the right thing but
keep the heart
from bleeding—
and even a secret
window to hurl out a wish
and watch it rise
into the sky.

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