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!


I studied at New College, Oxford, in the year 2000. My dad and I visited eighteen years later and the porters, Howard and Wayne, invited us in, so long as we didn’t disturb any of the concerts or other activities going on that summer Wednesday. We saw the old house where I lived at 65 Holywell. We saw the tall mysterious green Mound. My dad laughed when I couldn’t find the dining hall or chapel or, at first, the library. (“What did you spend your time doing?” he asked). When we said goodbye to the porters and thanked them for the warm welcome, they responded: “It’s always lovely to see our students come home.”

The Strangers: New College Porters

The Word: Home

The poem I wrote:

We grow up, we solidify into prose. We had a home, and then we left. There: the place of roses and the heaviness of walking on stone. There we first staked the thought like an arrow to the dirt: I want life to look like this. (And it has, it has.) There magic first played between our hands. There we read the wrong books. We sang in a choir badly. Did we play croquet and lose each time? Did we drink from that glass and did we break it? Perhaps we were, at first, lonely, before we intruded upon another century’s walls. I think we were not perfect. We lived too much in memory and in the future. The dirt of our origins, the years of stone. We wished for the play of magic between hands, believed we could learn it again. Outside in this cold night, there used to be rabbits. We can hear their soft feet like ballet dancers thudding the dry dirt. When we look back to see one, we are there instead: beautiful and forgiven.

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