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!


Bob, it turns out, is my neighbor! We introduced ourselves on a sudden spring-like day in what has been so far a clouded, cold February. On days like this, emotions come pre-packaged, something you could get at Costco: we may all have our private winter glooms, but when the sun comes out, we all respond the exact same way.

The Stranger: Bob 

His Word: Pinecone

The poem I wrote:

The other day I found
on the roadside 

a perfect pinecone,
childsized and out
of season.

You can keep them
in a bucket

by the door,
count them for their petals
or just throw them

into the fire.

They are shaped like the hearts
of children,

caught daily
in ardent desire to be
something all their own—

they forget, each year,

how they open into
pine infinities,

encapsulating all bearers
who ever came before.


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