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!


On a bench outside a downtown cafe sat my friend Dwayne, PFS Stranger #21 (his word: cannibalize). He was in deep discussion with the man who became this week’s stranger; together they looked as if they might nonviolently take over the world. I asked if my dog could join them while I ran inside for a coffee.

The Stranger: Ryan

The Word: Ineffable

The poem I wrote:

I should not write about
the ineffable joy
with which they love
their bodies: his thing
that goes up and down
at a touch, the hole
in her center, their
monster mirth at how
completely each piece
works. It would be
a breach of trust to tell.
Yet these things articulate
in real time, factual
as wood or skin.
When mine leave home,
no longer playing
up and down the razors
of my minutes,
their bodies sealed
for the public, I might
have nothing left
to write at all. 

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