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Haiku in the Workplace: Dawn in the Office

It would appear many of our respondents slept through this one, and who could blame them? Dawn in the office somehow doesn’t have the same ring to it as dawn on the beach, or dawn over Kilimanjaro. Still, it’s not entirely without its own rewards, as those who were awake to experience them reveal.

Dawn is often a time when we take stock of our situation, often with brutal honesty:

Another dawn at the desk

Wasting my youth modeling

accounts for The Man
	[Samuel Sibony]

And there are times when that honesty surprises even ourselves:

Christmas party gone awry

Lying at dawn on the floor with . . .

Rob from accounts?
	[Samuel Sibony]

Once we’ve taken whatever steps are necessary to get us acclimatized (read: coffee), we might be able to appreciate dawn’s resplendent beauty:

pixelated dawn —
sunrise trembles through
falling leaves 
	[David Dayson]

And take stock of the subtle effects that later in the day we’ll be too focused on our tasks to notice:

dawn’s skyscrapers 
touch their long shadows —
then draw apart 
	[David Dayson]

And once the coffee has fully kicked in, we might even appreciate those who have come to this dawn the hard way:

at their busiest —
dawn’s silent workers close
a transatlantic deal
	[David Dayson]

But of course nothing begins without something ending. My third choice this week is full of rue:
 

ended at dawn
the excel spreadsheet

of extra overtime
	[Ernesto Santiago]

Using dawn to mark the end, rather than the beginning, of the situation is certainly not novel, but is nicely turned here. It’s bad enough to be up at this hour, but to be earning only the usual wage seems harsh.

My top two prizes both note the subtle shifts in light we find in the early hours. In second place is this “aesthetically pleasing” poem:

the fluorescent light

aesthetically pleasing

when dawn is still dark
	[Ernesto Santiago]

Fluorescent is rarely anyone’s favorite, and especially when compared to natural light, not to say, dawn light. But there is a time, before the sun is up yet the sky is lightening, when the soft shadows and cool tones of fluorescent can be especially easy on the eye. Especially if one has been up all night . . .

My top prize offers a similar realization, but in an altogether different register:


dawn breaks the cheap hue of desk light
	[Ernesto Santiago]

The harsher tone works especially well in this instance. The poet sketches the situation with minimal words, but we can imagine it clearly: the persona of the poem is working at his desk, and has likely been doing so through the night. The attention is broken, not by the unnatural light of the desk lamp, to which he has become accustomed, but by the effulgent rays of the sun. How tawdry, in contrast, do these artificial beams seem? And, by extension, we call into question the merits of an enterprise that might keep us up through the night by dint of such illumination. The poet’s choice of casting this in one line is also felicitous: the two actions of the verb “break” (dawn “breaks”, but it also “breaks the cheap hue”) are in this way overlaid, and the ambiguity this presents contributes to the somewhat rattled awareness of the persona. A deft technical touch to set off a keenly observed psychological as well as natural moment.

With luck, you’ll never be asked to write about “dawn in the office” again, and so your efforts at research can cease. Sweet dreams!

New Poems

all night stand . . .
ink flavoured sunrise
in my study
     — Maria Laura Valente

          *

early dawn —
in the office a set
of push-ups
     — Ernesto P. Santiago

          *

in between naps
brewed black coffee
waiting for the sun
     — Willie Bongcaron

          *

Acero rosso —
il ronzio dei pcs dai cubicals

Red maple —
PCs buzzing from the cubicles
     — Monica Federico

          *

nonstop work —
dawn splinters
the skylight
     — Roberta Beary

          *

dawn at the office 
waking up
on last night's paperwork 
     — Rachel Sutcliffe

          *

After the nightshift
The sky colors in the east
Getting some sleep
     — Kristjaan Panneman

          *

dawn in the office
another mosquito in
my cup of coffee
     — Billy Antonio

          *

pink dawn –
in front of the visa office
a line wakes up
     — Marta Chocilowska

          *

whistleblowing
early in the office 
a new employee
     — Hifsa Ashraf

          *

already burdened —
yesterday's to-do list
creeps into dawn
     — Amy Losak

          *

A two-eyed spider 
s
p
i
n
s
intense web of lies 
across new dawn and glass.
     — Linda Wolff

          *

office affair . . .
she works the late night shift
he gets in at the crack
     — Michael H. Lester

          *

inhaling . . .
a whiff of dawn
new management
     — Celestine Nudanu

          *

first to arrive
flicks on the fluorescents
dawn in the office
     — Jan Dobb

          *

in morning silence
last night’s coffee
on the boss’s desk
     — Carol Jones

          *

dawn attendance . . .
the janitor moves freely
from room to room
     — Mohammad Azim Khan

          *

cabin fever
sunrise fills the space station
portal
     — Michael Henry Lee

          *

sun never sets 
on their endless day 
ICU staff
     — Ashoka Weerakkody

          *

rising again
my reflection on the coffee carafe
7 am in the office
     — Gail Oare

          *

meetings meetings
meetings about meetings
noticing the dawn
     — Mark Gilbert

          *

short notice — audit
and inspection — night-long stay
takes us to dawn
     — S. Radhamani

          *

dawn in the office 
just enough candlepower . . . 
to find the light switch
     — Katherine Stella

          *

dawn in office . . .
looking a swallow
migrate away
     — Eufemia Griffo

          *

to her ‘goodnight’
I bid ‘good morning’
she from another time zone
     — Madhuri Pillai

          *

Coffee break at dawn —
Refreshing the screen
Refreshing me
     — Erin Castaldi

          *

a backlog of work —
they remained at the office
from dawn till dusk
     — Rosa Maria di Salvatore

          *

the dawn moon —
exchanging the key
at call center gate
     — Srinivasa Rao Sambangi

          *

still in the office —
the colors of dawn
on my report
     — Angela Giordano

          *

just enough
to lift my dark weight
dawn
     — Alegria Imperial

          *

cleaners
leave the office
dawn
     — Olivier Schopfer

          *

weakening dawn
the tulip on the windowsill
still blooming
     — Matthew Markworth

          *

Silent office —
the shadow of a fan
on the letter of dismissal
     — Julia Guzmán

          *

sleepless in bed
the silhouettes of post-it notes
on the desk
     — Kerstin Park

          *

empty office —
looking at pink clouds
the first coffee
     — Elisa Allo

          *

in the flick of a switch
the disappearance 
of dawn
     — Pat Davis

          *

frosty meeting
a  coffee machine
sets the agenda
     — Martha Magenta

          *

winter dawn
behind the office lights
the sun also rises
     — Debbi Antebi

          *

empty carpark
I follow last night’s snow prints
back to the office
     — Lew Watts

          *

dawn
the tractor’s seat
warms up to me
     — Chad Lee Robinson

          *

exciting perfume —
Dawn, the new coworker
moves through the office
     — Adrian Bouter

          *

before dawn
a ghost library 
reveals itself
     — Carmen Sterba

          *

dawn break —
stirring the first sun rays
in jasmine tea
     — Arvinder Kaur

          *

break of dawn —
my first cup of coffee 
at the office
     — Ana Drobot

          *

overlooked
Dawn in the office
worker bees
     — Christine Eales

          *

dawn break —
I wash my night image
for an early arrival
     — Pravat Kumar Padhy

          *

dawn at the office
the window open
just a crack
     — Michael Stinson

          *

first light in the east —
flour and fresh bread  
in his hands

rischiara ad est —
farina e pane fresco
tra le mani
     — Lucia Cardillo

          *

preparing party food
at dawn in the office —
cleaners and me
     — Tomislav Maretic

          *

office cleaner
hoovering pennies at dawn
night bus
     — Mike Gallagher

          *

foggy dawn
facing another
memory leak
     — Cezar Ciobika

          *

she warned him 
don’t come if home it’s late
waking at his desk
     — Karen Harvey

          *

No dawn no sun 
Just a crow
Rattling daybreak
     — Stephan Massi

          *

cold dawn on the job
the tea pot whistle wakes
a turtle dove
     — Lucia Fontana

          *

dawn —
my divorced boss sleeping
in the bosom of his job
     — Adjei Agyei-Baah

          *


Next Week’s Theme: Foreign Takeover

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 9 November 2015.

This Post Has 13 Comments

  1. from my window
    raven sits on the mine pile
    behind him – sunrise

    or

    waiting for students
    raven watches me from the mine pile
    silhouetted by morning sun

    Lines are a little long. There is a poor rock pile from an old copper mine across from our school.

  2. Dear esteemed poet,
    Warm greetings! Vow! going through each and every write. Dawn viewed and experienced by all the contributors.

    with regards
    S. Radhamani

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