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!


I flew to Texas with both kids. My son, still a lap-baby, asked if we were going “by bikes.” In a failed attempt at honesty-as-best-policy I told him no, that actually we were flying on an airplane and not going by bikes. He protested by crying for half an hour. This week’s stranger, who works as a Southwest flight attendant, mothered me generously, offering every possible kindness. Once my guy fell asleep and I whispered profuse thanks, she said, “Don’t worry—I’ve got two boys. And Mother’s Day is just around the corner.”

The Stranger: Kim

Her Word: Kindness

The poem I wrote:

There was the ice storm.
There you were, a child.
How good it felt
to have few needs,
met. Did you
conduct the storm,
wishing away the bright
plants of summer,
choosing winter instead,
everyone you love iced
into a single room?
Did you speak aloud, Winter
thank you for all
these good gifts?
I’m losing one marked
with the kindness
of showing me adult secrets
before I arrived.

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