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!


Hi all,

I hope your weeks are going wonderfully! If you haven’t already, peek at the Poetry for Strangers website and you’ll find a dazzling array of brewery poems. And now, a new week, and a new stranger…

The stranger: Tonja was our server when my daughter and I were having breakfast at a restaurant in downtown Boise this past Saturday. She wore dangling bicycle earrings, which I loved. She leaned over to show them to my daughter.

Her word: Tender

The poem I wrote:

To be tender you must have holes in you
where the world can come in

just like a tender ship that is ready to receive
the wind. When we are born, we are

that: tender. We thicken our coats when life
harshes and hurts, but then look

what is left again: tender. Rubbed pink
beneath the callous. For a new

year, for a new life – we may choose to be
tender or fierce. Each one is a layer

among a thousand peeling skins, and if you
look you will see that there are holes

in each one, there is tenderness. Breathe
it in and out like a whale.

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