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 had lunch at the loveliest café called Wildroot; there were figs and pomegranate seeds in the salad, wavy paper lamps hanging from the ceiling, fennel fronds in the water jug. It opened recently in downtown Boise, and Lou works there. Walking inside feels like entering the color green.

The Stranger: Lou

Her Word: Sullied

The poem I wrote:

Wife games. That is another
name for it. What children play
privately when parents
are on the other side
of the yard. Husband and
wife games. Person says:

A lot of boys will want
to play wife games with you.
Best to learn early
to tell some of them no. Girl says oh.
Girl says sometimes
I want to play and sometimes
I don’t. Girl thinks:

Adulthood is magic. To lie
in the grass with eyes closed
for two whole hours. To work
how and when you wish.
To play until both arms are sullied
and not have to take a bath
if you don’t want to. What
could be easier? It must
be a great game, all of it,
this being adult and house
keeper. I say: talk with us

when you’re ready to play
wife games so you can make
sure not to have a baby
too soon. Girl says
her face all astonishment
Of course I want a baby soon.
As if any good game would
have no other point.

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