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 is the last poem of 2015. I hope you, dear readers and dear poets, have had a good year. Poetry for Strangers will continue into 2016.

My family arrived late on the airplane (see Christ | Sandwich). This meant we were split up and I sat by our daughter and my husband sat with our son. Next to my daughter sat a guy reading the most interesting-looking books, with titles such as Never Kick a Cow Chip on a Hot Day and Psychology Gone Wrong. At the end of the flight my daughter asked, “Do any people on this plane live in Albuquerque? “I do,” our interestingly-read seatmate said.

The Stranger: Justin

His Word: Truculently

The poem I wrote:

I want to tell stories about gentle
things, about my boy
who has no conflict, only
the word “hi” and
a jack-o-lantern smile
from which a pacifier dangles
like a sinner’s cigarette. It is
easier to tell stories about my girl
who argues, who acts
truculently. Who is the better
animal is not for me
to know. But I will watch
the boy more closely.
He has much to teach,
a foreigner’s way of being
in this country, and I want to walk
a little more in the sunlight
of his beauty, uncomplicated
and brimming with yes.

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