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!


We were riding our bike by the river when we passed a bounce house. My babies clamored. We hopped off and discovered a Timberline High School homecoming party complete with candy, face-paint, and a welcoming crew of high school seniors, including Abbie, who generously offered my kids a bounce in the house. The thought that soon enough my kids will be teenagers relying on me to teach them useful social things, such as how to flirt, became the basis for this poem.

The Strangers: Abbie & friends

The Word: Waterfall

The poem I wrote:

My mother did her best to teach me:
cast eyes up and briefly
touch an arm. Her past
from the cauldron of Texas,
where witchcraft is practiced
and everyone knows.

I learned nothing. My early loves
an aleatory failure.

When mine ask, I must say
you are so lovely naked
but keep your bum
in your pants for the most part.
Let your dress be the least
interesting thing about you. Fall
in love like a waterfall, but

do not drown. Once
in a while it is okay to lose
your head, drop to your limbs
and growl out your heart.
Let those you love

beast-whisper you back.
Mostly forget about it:
drive by yourself on a beach
with pink light; wave at swimmers
not quite smiling.