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 see James often when I go in the mornings to Flying M Café, and he is hard to miss: he is the tallest and generally the happiest-looking person in any room. Also he knows everybody. On this day I was sitting with my daughter who had just said, “Mom, I am making art and you are interrupting me.” So I thought I’d go make a friend. I took my tea over and said hello to James.

The Stranger: James

His Word: Serenity

The poem I wrote:

As if I didn’t have enough
To worry over,
Now there’s this ghost girl
That lives on the stairs.
No worries, you say. It’s just like
Passing someone on the street.
A little sage and she is gone.
I’m not one to believe
In booting out guests
Just like that. So I say
To this ghost what I tell
All people who come
Into my house: Don’t
Make work for me.
Don’t put things
Where they don’t belong,
And don’t clang about
Waking the baby –
Put your shoes
By the door and of course
Help yourself
To the tea, we keep it
Here by the pantry.
As long as I can go on
Focusing my energy
On the world of the living
Then we can coexist
In shared serenity.
If you hear noises
In the kitchen early
Don’t worry: it is just me,
Starting my day. Keep away
From that small magic
Markered-up table:
It is my daughter’s
And we don’t mess
With her art. Please
Don’t tease our dog.
I believe that’s all.

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