Poem of the Week, by Betsy Franco

If you’re interested in taking one of my one-day creative writing workshops this fall, you can check them out here.

Every day my goal is to get to Amazing in the New York Times spelling bee game (I don’t care about Genius). The other night, at dinner with friends who also love the Bee, I told them “jouncing” had been my best word of the day. They looked at me with blank faces. What? I said. It’s a very common word!

But guess what? It’s not. Over the next three days, out of many word-ish adults queried, only my sister in law Julie and my friend Julie (two Julies!) had ever heard of the word. This led to a mini existential crisis: how is it possible I’ve used this word all my life and never noticed that no one knew what the hell I was saying?

Words obsessed me as a kid. I’d mutter words, think words, write words in the air with my finger. Nothing has changed. Last night one of the two jouncing Julies and I sat talking about how much we love words, even confounding combinations like temblor and trembler, careen and career, bounce and jounce.

Words! They’re alive.

Anatomy Class, by Betsy Franco

The chair has
The clock,
a face.
The kites have
long and twirly tails.
The tacks have
The books have
The toolbox has
a set of nails.
Our shoes have
the marbles,
The wooden desk has
legs and seat.
The cups have
My watch has
The classroom rulers all have

Heads, arms, hands, nails,
spines, legs, feet, tails,
face, lips, tongues, eyes.

What a surprise!

Is our classroom alive?

For more information about Betsy Franco, please check out her website.
Words by Winter: my podcast


  1. Gabrielle McGhee · September 12, 2021

    Me too. And jouncing is very common. And I get to amazing also. Every day.


  2. Mim Kagol · September 12, 2021

    Love the Franco poem. The best classrooms are alive!
    I love Bee, too. Hope you got mizzen in your list.
    And I’ve used jounce in a poem, earning quizzical looks from my writing group. I showed ’em.

    🙂 Mim


  3. yvonne pearson · September 13, 2021

    I love the spelling bee, too. Actually spend too much time on it. What’s the difference between careen and careen?


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