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Haiku in the Workplace: Bring Your Child to Work Day

Ah, children. It’s not enough that they are burdened with our poor modeling of adult behavior at home — no, we must also display it at work, so they will have an idea of what to avoid when they grow up. But they probably won’t . . .

Most of our poets found that the children behaved admirably — indeed, inspirationally — in the work space —

in the midst
of office turmoil the calm —
focus of a child
	[David Dayson]

had a decidedly bracing effect —

icy colleagues —
thaw as children flood
into the office
	[David Dayson]

and were missed instantly once having left —

keyboards rattle 
tunelessly after children leave —
with their music
	[David Dayson]

The effect they have had will probably fade, but in the short term must be deemed positive —

Typing nonsense, lost
pens, spinning on chairs –
that’s just my boss!
	[Sarah Leavesley]

The best of these, in my view, takes place just a bit later —

next day at school —
show and tell a memory 
stick from the office
	[David Dayson]

This poem neatly confounds our expectations. What threatens to wallow in generalities actually morphs into a useful metaphor, recounting a planned outcome, and possibly — it’s hard to be sure — a pilferage. This is created by the poet’s adroit management of form — breaking the term “memory stick” in the middle and sharing it between two lines, we are led to the brink of platitude (ah, the memories!) only to be rescued by the specifics of the event. The third line is often the “tell” in haiku, when the scene or sense is suddenly shifted to reveal the unexpected that is somehow even more obvious than the expected. The poet here plays us, and we, childlike in our trusts and innocence, are grateful.

New Poems

demanding a burger . . .
the boss wears ponytails
     — Willie Bongcaron
          *
spending a day
in the life of my father
a worker ant
     — Ernesto P. Santiago
          *
daughters in the office —
on fogged windows
“we love you Mom”
     — Doris Pascolo

          *
the children’s questions —
why can’t I
conceive?
     — Rachel Sutcliffe
          *
lawfirm desk
a daughter finds
her photo
     — Roberta Beary
          *
bring-your-child-to-work day —
the childless woman
calls in sick
     — Jennifer Hambrick
          *
A bit shy
my son shakes hands with an elder
In the nursing home
     — Kristjaan Panneman
          *
Je-Khen-po briefing
the toddler helps herself
to the fruit offerings
     — Sonam Chhoki
Je-Khen-po: Chief Abbot of the Monastic Body
          *
babycare in the workplace —
nappy change
on headmaster’s desk
     — Maria Laura Valente
          *
identical ties and frowns dad and sons on Bring Your Child to Work Day
     — Angelee Deodhar
          *
lecture hall —
among unknown students
my daughter’s face
     — Anna Maria Domburg-Sancristoforo
          *
kids to work day
everyone using 
their outside voice
     — Michael Henry Lee
          *
seismic shift
a first grader straightens up
the stacks on my desk
     — Gail Oare
          *
my child protégé 
accompanies me to work
retirement plan
     — Karen Harvey
          *
‘once upon a time’
we illustrate sales figures
with unicorns
     — Andy McLellan
          *
childhood memories
dropping my pants
in front of daddy’s workers
     — Celestine Nudanu
          *
business meeting . . .
my child next to me
can you tell me a story, mom?
     — Eufemia Griffo
          *
Inquiry reproduction
who what when where why?
take kid to work day
     — Katherine Stella
          *
kids invade my office . . .
all those trapped
in child labor
     — Olivier Schopfer
          *
my request 
to bring my dog
rejected . . .
     — Samantha Sirimanne Hyde
          *
bringing her son
to work
for therapy
     — Danny Blackwell
          *
kindergarten on strike —
mascot for a day
in mom’s classroom
sciopero al nido —
mascotte per un giorno
nella classe di mamma
     — Elisa Alla
          *
whacking the rattle
at the keyboard . . .
one of those days
     — Mark Gilbert
          *
showing a condo —
my young daughter
points out a roach
     — Marilyn Appl Walker
          *
He smiles his son
in the workplace
The new playground
Sorride il figlio
sul posto di lavoro
Il nuovo parco giochi
     — Angela Giordano
          *
son at work day
loyalty check
by my boss
      — Srinivasa Rao Sambangi
          *
the surgeon’s daughter
playing with his scalpel
bloody cheek
     — Mike Gallagher
          *
my child in office —
the sketch of his hand 
for me on a post-it
mio figlio in ufficio
disegna la sua mano 
per me su un post-it
     — Lucia Cardillo
          *
nanny’s day off
a buzz of the spinning top
at the team meeting
     — Marta Chocilowska
          *
staff meeting
all eyes on
the boss’s child
     — Billy Antonio
          *
like last year
she mentions her miscarriage
on this day at work . . .
     — Adrian Bouter
          *
day at dad’s work 
dad drives the backhoe
through a knothole 
     — Paul Geiger
          *
eight year old’s questions 
the boss 
scratches his head
     — Madhuri Pillai
          *
brought them to work
the machines start to whirr 
a child’s mind
     — Rebecca Harvey
          *
bottom three shelves
rearranged by rainbow largely 
books my daughter’s read
     — Ron Scully
          *
child-friendly office
fur-baby snores and farts
under her desk
     — Marietta McGregor
          *
a time with kid at workplace
he calls my boss
grandma
     — Adjei Agyei-Baah
          *
boardroom
with my cape and mask on
visitors enter without notice
     — Anthony Rabang
          *

Next Week’s Theme: First Day at the New Job

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 11 May 2015.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. I’ve enjoyed reading all of these. With David Dayson’s ‘show & tell’

    next day at school —
    show and tell a memory
    stick from the office
    [David Dayson]

    I can also see & hear that young child’s voice, declaring “My show & tell is a memory from my Dad’s office”, before holding up the thing. A cute mistake, maybe, from an oldies’ point of view but that kid might well understand the outsourcing of human memory already and be exploring AI very soon.

    I’m also struck by this one from the ‘new poems’:

    my request
    to bring my dog
    rejected . . .
    — Samantha Sirimanne Hyde

    Funny and poignant at the same time, and what a lack of insight on the boss’s part.

    – Lorin

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