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!


It was late, near midnight, and I was 75% asleep when Wadee ushered me into his taxi. But he roused me awake with stimulating talk about taxi-driving and how the brain learns streets (“I don’t think I’ll get Alzheimer’s,” he said. “You see what I mean?”) He spoke of his childhood in Jordan. He told me how he drinks hot tea in the summer to keep cool and cold coffee in the winter to keep warm. He offered a beautiful quote from the Koran about how everything that comes from water will stay alive.

The Stranger: Wadee

His Word: Water

The poem I wrote:

A planted her bean
in the garden, hoping it might
help something grow.

B counted out how many
beans could make a baby.

C bit her bean in half.

D and E swapped beans
on accident, and for a week
D carried ten extra years.

F kept hers in a suitcase
so that it might travel.

G swallowed her bean.

H tossed her bean in a well
like a secret wish
and spent the rest of her life
adding water and water and water.


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