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!


This word arrived at an office party for one of my friends. I mentioned without thinking that I didn’t have a word yet for this week. My friend said, “Oh! I’ll get one for you.” And got the attention of his friend Craig.

I stood by a little idly while my friend explained Poetry for Strangers – and the stranger burst out with: “Sequester!” As if he had been holding in the word all day, just waiting for somebody to ask.

The Stranger: Craig

His Word: Sequester

The poem I wrote:

Often we are plagued,
like villages, with an
ill that wreaks bad breath,
you might call it
a private dragon: we know
ways to set it free, or
to clank shut its jaws –

either way is the same:
take it outside, turn its face
toward the wind,
teach it to breathe
fire only on wet days;
coax it (a single hand
on its gentle back)
into something made of wood.

Sequester a nightmare
inside a tree –
there it will grow wings.


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