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!


I was at Office Depot buying laminate paper for (prepare yourself) a time-management project with my kids. Autumn worked the checkout and we chatted about the endless possibilities of laminate—making paper projects last forever!

The Stranger: Autumn    

Her Word: Patience

The poem I wrote:

They sit in a room, writers
all. I see myself: I am the girl.
She is young, she is bright,
she is nineteen years old,
the other women have all
lived much longer lives.
They write about the hard
things. They read aloud
their stories of survival
at the long table under
the bare light. The girl
says of her own thin stories,
‘I have not had that thing
happen, the big changing
thing.’ Your tragedy, the teacher
says. We call it that. And
patience, dear. You will.

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