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!


My mouse-pad stopped clicking. I took my small computer downtown to MacLife, imagining that they’d have to dissect it and I’d be without my writing tool for a week—a first-world problem, but still a problem. Geoff took it back to the surgery room, tinkered for ten minutes, and brought it back fixed. In the throes of my grateful ecstasies, I asked if he’d be this week’s stranger.

The Stranger: Geoff

His Word: Satisfaction

The poem I wrote:

What witches know about sibling rivalry
is to give each a privilege that the other
wants. Quick, put the boy in a cage, offer
him every meat he like best. Quick! Tell
the girl she’s in charge, she’s your witch’s
assistant, and she will help you. Neither
will want to yield to the other. The witch
settles back, cleverly. She has done this before.

Fattening the boy to the witch’s satisfaction.
Marbling his meat. Rotting his teeth.
Now stop: of all ways to play a sibling
against the other. Of all ways to scare
a sister or make a brother smug—
to shape their memories so they can
never agree on anything again. The girl

forgets the gingerbread and knows only
that it was a story about escape. The boy
forgets the cage in the retelling, recalls
their luck after days of slogging away from
a home without food, to find a house
made of it: he insists on the peppermint
windows, the nonpareil sidewalk. Poor boy,
he remembers only the food and his being
the chosen one whose fed body matters.


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