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!


We have the children’s Liechtensteinian godfather (true!) in town, which has made for some great adventures during the days. One morning last week we all ended up, in order, at the doctor for shots, then the ice cream shop for after-shots, and then at the toy store next door. Both the toy store and ice cream shop are owned by the same person, who is this week’s stranger. You cannot walk into either store without feeling totally A) nostalgic and B) sugar-hungry and C) in the mood for Christmas presents.

The Stranger: Brett

His Word: Nostalgic

The poem I wrote:

She has the nightlight on.
My girl is putting her babies to bed
way beyond her bedtime.

Her play is of course
my work. Nobody tells you
which button to press

to make them sleep. The girl
is sugared and drunk on
grandparents and frenzied at all

she can get away with. I want to say,
Girl, you are a work of art.
Tell her I’m sorry for all the times

I am ever a grouch. For
she makes me homesick.
What is nostalgic again?

She would never sit still
for me to explain it. For
me to tell her that we

re-become human
through memory, like watching
an odd cagey bird

who sheds familiar feathers
in patterns of wonder
all around a room.


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