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!


At an opening of the Boise International Market, I met Terry, tea-master and co-owner of Joyful Tea, a fun elegant teashop filled with cheerful jars of a hundred different teas. When I asked his advice on which tea to try, Terry looked around furtively, as if the unchosen teas would hear and feel left out. He picked up a shiny blue container on the far end of the black teas. “If I knew that this next cup of tea would be my last, I would choose…” And he brewed me a perfect cup.

The Stranger: Terry

His Word: Joyful

The poem I wrote:

On a walk with my slung-on son
and the dog we stopped to watch
a backhoe take a bite out of the house
on the corner. 1219 Washington
lost its walls to the five-toothed jaws,
which could be only inspired
by a Tyrannosaurus Rex. First it ate
the roof and then tantrum-crashed
the front windows like a child
trying to break everything. What I see
in the ruins is the sky’s faint blue light
once the stencil of the house is gone.
I see new starts: a world so fresh
and so very full of joyful new starts.

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