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!


Before today’s poem, a happy announcement: Poetry for Strangers Vol. II is available! Please take a look. It is a lovely book of 50 poems, perfect for mother’s day, father’s day, or a gift to a reader you love.

And now, this week’s stranger:

“Want to feed the lobsters?” Mike asked. He stood behind the counter at the fish market, wearing an apron and holding a knife. When we said yes, Mike helped my nearly 3-year-old guy onto a stool and into plastic gloves, and gave him a sliver of fish to drop into the tank. I had never given much thought to lobsters’ mouths, but it turns out they are worth thinking about: how they use their tiny front legs to slide the fish into a sort of gaping hole. “It’s like a conveyer belt,” Mike said, seeing my son’s and my surprise. “They’re having salmon for dinner. What are you having?” The afternoon ended with Mike taking our dinner (salmon) and turning it into poke while we watched.

The Stranger: Mike

The Word: Lobster

The poem I wrote:

The sky
won’t fall tonight,
so sit outside

Hold this hour
like a poem
in your hands,

shed your lobster life,
heavy as any

beast laden
with too many

Be the world
where shell ends
and spirit begins.

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