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!


In a small town in Maine, I heard jazz music piping out of an open door next to a handwritten sign that included the words “tea” and “open til 9pm.” So I went in and had tea by myself in the evening at a tea-and-antique shop called A Place Like Home – mostly I read my book, but also I learned a little about how the owner, Roseanne, had come to create such a place in this town of water and boats.

The Stranger: Roseanne

Her Word: Home

The poem I wrote:

I dreamt I saw my mother
on a balcony of purple flowers
staring out: my mother still,
who is never still – and as
I looked, words appeared
on her like scrawl on a picture –
“There is a poem growing
on your elbow,” I wanted to say
but I stopped with the words
because I saw my mother
first, before the poem – saw
her standing without words,
for once. She is always saying
something, always sketched
into her days with a fishing-net
of concrete nouns although
she herself is mostly verb –
how long had I been away
from home, I wondered, even
as I knew not to interrupt her
on that day or in that dream –
it seemed correct not to cast out
my brackish words between
her and her purple flowers:
I will watch all night if I have to,
keeping underwater the so-many
words I inherited from her.


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