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 I 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!


On our walk along the Thames River, my dad and I passed many locks and met many lock keepers. The lock keeper’s house stands pastorally at the edge of the lock, which is a set of gates that raise and lower the water, allowing boats to come upstream and keeping the river navigable. I asked one young lock keeper who was pulling a wooden bar to wrench open the water-gate, “How does one become a lock keeper?” He answered: “Perseverance. I’ve been doing this ten years and only eight months ago I moved into the lock house.”

The Stranger: Andy

The Word: Lock keeper

The poem I wrote:

There are things
only a lock keeper
knows of the two-
headed beast that is

river. River, half-
measured, half-
Here is my house,

my isolation, my friend
the current. I know
what secrets boats seek

upstream. I turn each
through. Quiet now,
for below the skim
another head is rising.

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