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 I 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 was by far the hardest word. It came about when I was at a wine bar with my person and Dean was our server: he got my attention when he used a paper cup to pour my second glass of wine back into our bottle. He told us that he had two 18-year-old dachshunds who died seven days apart. Their names? Weinus and Spanky.

The Stranger: Dean

The Word: Spanky

The poem I wrote:

There has lived a man in my body before,
this small one, 1500 days old. Once he swam
like a fish inside my belly. Unimaginable
that I have no interior part named
for him, yet I bear other men’s names:
Fallopian tubes, Gartner’s ducts, hydatid
of Morgagni, Pouch of Douglas. Fixed
like flags by mapmakers unable to forgo
their hunger to own. I could name a part,
a secret on your skin, a spanky: it would be
just a word to mark some cells that turn daily
over, temporary as any point, as any ocean.

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