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!


Even though I am no gardener, I decided to buy myself a striped gardening hat from a shop at the San Francisco Ferry Building Marketplace. The woman working the checkout told me that she is requiring her book club to read poetry – and not only that – she has rented a karaoke machine for each member to perform a poem. Short of moving to San Francisco to join her book club, the next sensible thing was to write her a poem.

The Stranger: Mary Lee

Her Word: Unrequited

The poem I wrote:

How can we be anything
but temporary, visitors

to the garden, weeds
in this city of so many
happy people eating ::

in travel the only rule
is you have to go back
the way you came—

this is fairy tale logic
which is to say no logic
at all :: Cities have

no use for us but sometimes
we’ll meet a person

we like and that is how
we seed ourselves
in every land we visit,

leaving behind some trick
to sprout up

from the unrequited dirt.


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