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!


Early on Sunday morning, now in Boise again, my daughter and I met a woman who was having breakfast with two people and two dogs. “What are your dogs’ names?” my daughter asked eagerly – and then told the smiling stranger: “We have a dog named Woody.”

The Stranger: Bonnie

Her Word: Squirrel

The poem I wrote:

We almost lost him again as he chased the baited squirrel straight into the car’s back wheel – how he hit it and bounced off limping and we thought relief! Only a lost leg. But the leg was fine and in the end he learned nothing. | There have been other squirrels: a startled young one he caught at a tree’s base, and one just behind a car he struck skullfirst, leaving a dent in the bumper: and the invisible ranch-grass mammal that caught his eye just before the tractor hit him when he was still a soft baby, before he had hardly lived. | He ought to die this way, our good dog, lost in the mazes of pursuit – he was born a hunt-dog and became a child’s pet, but the hunter won’t leave him. His life with squirrels is a sequence of near-misses: there is heaven there, with a flicking brown tail, he can see it even if we can’t – and the world keeps stopping him just before he reaches it.

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