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!


“You learn through failure,” Garnette said. “Plants keep you humble.” My mother (a master gardener) and I were at Edwards Greenhouse, looking for living green plants that I could keep alive in my office. I love the metaphors of plants and I love being among them but on my watch they usually die. In this way children and dogs are easier than plants—they express their needs. Garnette, who works at the greenhouse, offered us advice. We settled on a prolific Boston Fern, a small wispy air-plant, and succulents.

The Stranger: Garnette

Her Word: Succulent

The poem I wrote:

As earth is water
but for seizures
of accidental land,
we are animals until
proven otherwise;
we beast each other
in a race to breathe
most, to be better
than a succulent
at storing water.

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