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!


Five friends and I went glamping at Conestoga Ranch in Utah—an agreeable activity that, because it includes hot water and pillows, feels more like hoteling than camping. But unlike hoteling, the walls of our room were made of canvas; this particular cold weekend, we spent a great deal of time in the warm restaurant where Inge worked. This poem fused together Inge’s word and the seed idea of a poem I wrote years ago about Don Quixote.

The Stranger: Inge

The Word(s): Carpe Diem

The poem I wrote:

When I used to chase windmills
my wish was to rub against
an ending. Such a wish
mutates; we pass it along
like runners on a quest.

Carpe diem! we howl
at the dawn, mortaling
ourselves to be forever
mistaking love for an ordinary

tremor, life for death,
windmills for everything they are not.

I am drunk once more
with such wild chasing
of things that change.