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!


Fact: poets are weirdos.

Because it was nearly Wednesday and I was desperate for a word, I waylaid a guy walking on the sidewalk. He was surprised and said, “I need more time. The word I thought of first is not the one I want.” “Oh it’s fine,” I told him, “let’s use it.”

The Stranger: Tracy

His Word: Sucks

The poem I wrote:

I tell her in a hushed voice the story

of Red Cap and the wolf: how it began

with a sick nana, a basket of get-well

foods and wine (Echinacea? she asks.)

Yes. And yogurt and vitamin C. Then

there is the parting from mother, the

unpaved journey through the woods:

so many ways for a girl to lose herself

or find the wrong saviors. But this version

ends with the wolf. (Hi Wolf, she says.

Are you hungry? Here, you can sit on my lap.)

So it happens that she sucks one villain

out of the fairy tale and into her zoo of

air-animals, dismissing basket, path,

and nana with the words, I’ll feed you, Wolf.


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