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Haiku in the Workplace: Anger Management

I’m going to say this calmly, and I don’t want to argue about it: none of the submissions for this week’s haiku column rose to the level of poetry. I know, I know. Sure, some were clever:

mismanaged dangers —

if frequent frequently will
anger Management
	[Walter Miles]

And some offered useful advice:

staying calm at work
is preferable to weeks
completing crosswords
	[Walter Miles]

Some were droll:

A pile of
Ripped stress balls
Lying by her chair
	[Samuel Sibony]

Some were in the moment:

in — out
of anger management
this breath
	[Ernesto P. Santiago]

And some managed to get outside of it:

Tonight, in the pub, 
I will bitch and moan and scream.
Now, I’ll bite my tongue.
	[Alex Bilmes]

But none moved beyond prose mind — the mind we use for our everyday transactions — to enter that elusive other mind, the mind of poetry. The closest we came, one could argue, was this:

garden of silence —
time and space suspended 
by water lilies
	[David Dayson]

But even this is more a bromide for the self-help crowd draped in the raiment of prettiness. We just didn’t get there this week.

There’s no reason to get upset, sometimes this just happens. It’s not as though the Muse delivers on command, much as we like to think her at our beck and call. Next week will bring us somewhere else, somewhere perhaps where the Muse dwells, and you can negotiate at that point. In the meantime, breath deeply, count to seventeen (if you must) and take solace in wisdom:

The Sex Pistols said
Anger is an energy.
They didn’t have jobs.
	[Alex Bilmes]

New Poems

counting to ten
punching
my calculator
     — Mark Gilbert

          *

it’s a jungle
in the highest office
roar of the boss
     — Marietta McGregor

          *

furious
running to the tenth floor 
without panting
     — Marta Chocilowska

          *

almost twelve
the boss is just halfway
in his sermon
     — Willie Bongcaron

          *

salary freeze —
the tea kettle whistling
in the staff lounge
     — Gail Oare

          *

getting some help
more than I could handle
a loose tie
     — Ernesto P. Santiago

          *

keeping a distance
from my angry manager
a crow squawks
     — Carmen Sterba

          *

anger management . . .
playing hide & seek 
with my boss
     — Hifsa Ashraf

          *

biting my tongue 
I shred some more
of my anger
     — Rachel Sutcliffe

          *

layoff notice
the saucepan
boils over
     — Amy Losak

          *

attitude problem —
the boss’s response to those
who tell the truth
     — Valentina Ranaldi-Adams

          *

working lunch
biting the meat harder
argument
     — Ashoka Weerakkody

          *

anger management
embracing the emptiness
of profit and loss
     — Michael Henry Lee

          *

I sign up for a course
to manage my anger —
counting fingers
     — Angela Giordano

          *

since he is always angry
my colleague has been sent to attend
an anger management course
     — Rosa Maria Di Salvatore

          *

storm clouds
dispersed by late afternoon 
empty donut box
     — Peggy Bilbro

          *

laughter therapy
he was easier to ignore 
before
     — Pat Davis

          *

Post-quarrel embrace
Sparks on a broken cell phone glass
     — Stefano Riondato

          *

a lifetime later
that tone of voice, I’m told
unforgiven
     — Ron Scully

          *

subsiding storm
the hardliner’s voice
tones down
     — Angelo Ancheta

          *

angry . . .
a weekend work seminar 
on anger management
     — Madhuri Pillai

          *

closing the loan file
please come day after tomorrow
more auspicious
     — S. Radhamani

          *

a deep breath 
to cool my anger —
tonight tai chi lesson
     — Anna Maria Domburg-Sancristoforo

          *

a sky blue and black
with both hands on the table
him dotting the i . . .
     — Adrian Bouter

          *

fleck of spittle
on the tight mouth
he manages
     — Paul Geiger

          *

the boss gives me
a long look . . .
crackle of the cattle prod
     — Chad Lee Robinson

          *

not regretting
what I said
unpaid overtime
     — Olivier Schopfer

          *

office empty
except for me
and a dead wasp
     — Christine Eales

          *

Nervous tension —
watering the philodendron
I slowly breathe
     — Nazarena Rampini

          *

angry silence —
the remains of a wasp
on the windowsill
     — Martha Magenta

          *

the way
she forgives me . . .
makes me madder!
     — Tomislav Maretic

          *

bullseye
perfectly controlled
barb
     — Mike Gallagher

          *

refreshed daily
the long end of a wound
from last year’s tussle
     — Alegria Imperial

          *

late for class
arguing over space
in the car park
     — Karen Harvey

          *

anger management —
a few more cups of coffee
on my desk
     — Ana Drobot

          *

just a glass of water to regulate my breath
     — Adjei Agyei-Baah

          *


Next Week’s Theme: Women in the Office

Send your poem using “workplace haiku” as the subject by Sunday midnight to our Contact Form. Good luck!

kacian_jimFrom October 2014 through April 2016 Haiku Foundation president Jim Kacian offered a column on haiku for the London Financial Times centered on the theme of work. Each week we share these columns with the haiku community at large, along with an invitation to join in the fun. Submit a poem by Sunday midnight on the theme of the week, from the classical Japanese tradition, or contemporary practice, or perhaps one of your own, which you might even write for the occasion. The best of these will be appended to the column. First published 1 March 2016.

This Post Has 4 Comments

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  2. Dear esteemed poet,
    Greetings! so many avenues to vent and suppress anger, wonderfully
    drawn.
    with regards
    S.Radhamani

  3. Hi Jim. Would this space ever be amenable to you workshopping one of the haiku that you feel is almost but not really there? I’m often curious as to what you see/don’t see or find missing in some of the poems. Thanks!

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