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!


Jack used to be a baseball player, I learned. He also nearly died last September but had a miraculous recovery. When I met him at my literary society during my 15th college reunion, he was cheerful and staunchly glad to be alive. We talked for nearly an hour and I got to meet his entire family, whom he is very, very proud of. At the end, he wished me “mazel tov” and I promised him a poem.

The Stranger: Jack

His Word: Life

The poem I wrote:

You filled a box with purple and gold
flowers that match a secret you once kept.
Keep it close. In it your power lies seeded.

There is a noetic murmuring that won’t
go away. It is, of course, theoretical.
Let it terrorize you now, silencing the day

you grow as old as that tree. 

We are just so young when we are young.
Let this, or something, be your power.
Purple and gold, as once you loved.

Let the good from above drip down.
Let it cover you like egg yolk.
To be full of life is to be at the mercy

of those who are tired of living.

Endure. Give away no power,
not even seeded as a gift. Fill up with purple
and gold and grow as old as trees.

Yes, there is a secret here. Learn it.


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