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!


Mike and his wife own a Montessori school in Boise, and when I asked Mike for a word, he gave me one-half of his family’s philosophy for all activities: that they be meaningful and that they be fun.

The Stranger: Mike

His word: Meaningful

The poem I wrote:

1+3=4. One child plus three

turtles equals a mismatch of four
new friends. Meaningful, not just

numbers. Life-shapes make life-
symbols: a rainstorm costs nothing
but you can measure an umbrella

in ¢ or $ or inches across or hues
of the color blue. Discipline
is an ice-tray and each once-watery
person solidifies into a cube of

their own making, one who knows
that CHILD has an L for love, C
for canoe, D for Daddy-o, H like a ladder,

and I that is not a 1, but so alike that
you might dream them together

into parallel lines.


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