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!


I used to walk the dogs every morning from 7-8, but recently I’ve discovered a more attractive alternative: donuts. I was sitting in Guru Donuts eating an outrageously delicious vegan Boston Cream donut and working on a poem, when two girls in school uniforms asked if I might answer some questions about Greek myth. Of course! I said. The girls sat next to me and went down a list of Greek gods and asked if I could come up with their Roman names. I loved it! I remembered some! It was even better than a crossword puzzle.

For this poem, I used a “starter” (as you might with yogurt, beer, or kombucha): I found an unfinished half-poem from last May, when my son was about to be born. It married nicely with this word, I thought.

The Strangers: Annie and Margaux

Their Word: Water

The poem I wrote:

In two days I will release

the world from my belly

where it has lain quiet

all these months: if you

touch you will find his long

continent of shoulder,

a peninsula of feet, abdomen

curving around oceans

of my water. Thirty-five years ago

I was such a world,

absolute in my green and blue,

but each day I erode,

able only to contain worlds,

not be them: when earth

opened his eyes his mother

shrank into the skin-drawn lines

of an old map. She can be

filled at will, or left empty.


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