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!


You crash through space and time when you go into a tea shop. It connects one to the past in a way that, say, hanging out at the Apple Store doesn’t. Need I say it thrills me that my city now has four tea shops. I visited the newest one, Snake River Tea, for the first time. Behind the counter, this week’s stranger was sipping tea. It was a pu-erh, which I can sometimes pronounce and sometimes like to drink.

And PS—this marks Poetry for Strangers’ 100th word.

The Stranger: Garrett

His Word: Innovate

The poem I wrote:

Books finished. Life unfinished.
Poems finished. Conversations
unfinished. Night finished.
Sleep unfinished. House finished
(in dreams, in memory.) House
unfinished. The wish to innovate
unfinished. Energy finished.
Growth unfinished. Regret
unfinished when growth finishes.
Sentences unfinished, interrupted,
flapping open like a wet dog’s
ears, with a single-eyed wish,
a future, a wild objective: to
finish. A meal finished. Hunger
unfinished. Library book
finished. Reading never finished.
Bath finished. Sleep unfinished.
Try tonight again, open and unfinished.

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