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!


This week’s word came from Dave Bieter, Boise’s much-beloved mayor. He said, “Sorry not to give a more interesting word, but it’s the first one that came to mind…” I was glad of the word; these past gray weeks I’ve felt especially appreciative of evergreens growing here in the city of trees.

The Stranger: Dave

His Word: Tree

The poem I wrote:

The trick to trees is that they keep
growing, like a city built
to last: each ring
a sign that something happened,
some quick occurrence that hurt
or gave nourishment—
we are not trees
but we grow anyway,
here in this city
or that one, in a season
that shoots us tall into the sky
or hovers us, humble, in mud
and snow: forget
how our rings appear—
the point is that to grow up
is always holy,
always a reason to thrust out
branches just to see
what they hold.

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