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Haiku in the Workplace: Sick Day

There was less poetry in our submissions for this topic, but decidedly more glee. Sickness — real, imagined or feigned — apparently brings out our punniest humor. Perhaps it’s the giddy sense of release of taking a day off from work, or even the thought of doing so. Or is it possible that a day spent within the confines of our own abodes, paying attention to the demands of our bodies, is so delicious that it more than compensates for the inconvenience of ailing? All our correspondents, it is good to report, are suffering from only the mildest of impingements, and these, in the main, are self-inflicted:

the morning after —
if only there was a pill 
to treat regret
	[David Dayson]

and for most the remedy seems ready to hand:

Overbearing boss
Drowning in pointless admin
Retail therapy!
	[Nicholas Robinson]

As mentioned, a bout of indisposition does not seem to dull one’s propensity for punning:

man flu —
into the duvet's
	[David Dayson]

And while there is the occasional moment of existential angst:

one day
cannot cure
this sickness
	[Evan Flaschen]

for the most part our maladies are of a more manageable nature:

Monday morning blues —
waiting to be treated for
password amnesia
	[David Dayson]

My third choice this week explores the calculated nature of illness:

on work’s master plan

fake cough
	[Ernesto Santiago]

Surely after work well done it would be churlish for a boss to deny time away because of illness, ostensibly brought on by the demands of the workload. Our poet is sly and understands human nature. And now we know his name . . .

In second place we have a canny recognition of the will playing against the odds, whatever the cost:

extra authentic —

that stomach bug

briskly followed
	[Ernesto Santiago]

Though not quite the stuff of epics, the poet decided the risk was worth the taking, and now that the worst case scenario has ensued, at least gets a poem out of the bargain. There have been worse deals struck in the quest for adventure.

Our top winner this week takes the prize primarily for bravado:

Hole in one

On a sick day

Isn’t it ironic?
	[Samuel Sibony]

The understated self-awareness of the last line feels the perfect tenor after the casual admission of playing hooky of the opening pair. This persona knows no shame, and the poem’s tone neatly captures it, while managing to brag at his skill and manifest his confidence in the security he feels in his position, all while charming us. We all know a person (or many) like this, and probably envy him. Nicely played!

I admit these are all a long ways from Shiki’s

gallons of phlegm
even the gourd water
couldn’t clear it up

but then again he was on his deathbed with tuberculosis (gourd water was the specific for treating respiratory ailments at the time in Japan — be grateful for modern medicine), so it is understandable if he had a grimmer outlook. In any case, a small illness can make us grateful for our usual well-being, and that is well worth celebrating. Take care!

New Poems

. . . methodically
lowers the boss' blood pressure
a little white lie
     — Ernesto P. Santiago
sick day
preparing CV for
morrow’s interview
     — S. Radhamani
on the sofa
with Kleenex and tea
unexpected leisure
     — Peggy Bilbro
sick days ski trip
back to work
with a broken leg
     — Marilyn Walker
half wakefulness  —
mother's moist palm
on my forehead
     — Arvinder Kaur
sick note —
the fresh cleaned windows
of my neighbour
     — Eva Limbach
a little flu —
brainstorming program
     – Anna Maria Domburg-Sancristoforo
at the golf course
the boss too . . .
sick day
     — Madhuri Pillai
blue Monday . . .
several practice coughs
before she calls in
     — Michael H. Lester
appointment day
the doctor
off sick
     — Rachel Sutcliffe
opening Skype
from home I follow the work —
a boiling tea and spray
     — Angela Giordano
mercury rising
the boss calls again
about another crisis
     — Gail Oare
rain on the window pane —
feeling guilty
for no reason
     — Mark Gilbert
headache day
her Melbourne Cup hat
on the TV news
     — Jan Dobb
homebound . . .
despite the migraine
a spring in my step
     — Samantha Sirimanne Hyde
sick day
I answer emails
in my pajamas
     — Amy Losak
I'm a fugitive
under covers
sick day
     — Michael Stinson
this time
it is for real . . .
downed with flu
     — Willie Bongcaron
rapid current flow
engulfs all in passages
channels to outlet
     — Katherine Stella
after party night —
only the cleaning crew
gets no sick day
     — Marta Chocilowska
urgently; called in . . .
on the manager’s good side
a memory loss
     — Ernesto P. Santiago
calling in sick
my doctor tells me
I need to retire
     — Elizabeth Moura
perfect attendance
his first year
on the job
     — Pat Davis
long day and night —
a photo of the oysters
in my phone
     — Kerstin Park
chicken pox . . .
my colleagues avoid
even my phone calls
     — Ana Drobot
Calling Sunday for a sick day Monday the season opener
Sox tickets in hand
     — Stephan Massi
sick day . . .
i make a rainbow
with my pills
     — Hifsa Ashraf
sick leave —
finally I complete
my haiku collection
     — Tomislav Maretic
long illness
watching fall
the first autumn leaves
     — Eufemia Griffo
thermometer shards
the mercury makes itself
whole again
     — Anthony Rabang
back-to-back Oprah
tell me, is a sick day
worth it?
     — Marietta McGregor
at a rummage sale
the one who called in sick
     — Chad Lee Robinson
paid sick days
count against paternity
     — Ron Scully
Sick Day
for all the employees
the boss’s funeral
     — Cezar Ciobika
a sudden need
to catch up with me
mental health day
     — Devin Harrison
sick day
a deadline raptor
splitting my being
    — Alegria Imperial
sick day —
ignoring the alarm clock
to remain asleep
in malattia —
ignorando la sveglia
restare a letto
     — Lucia Cardillo
high fever . . .
even this haiku
smells of ginger
     — Elisa Allo
sick day
the consoling song of
the blackbird
     — Eleonore Nickolay
I take days off 
to avoid the new boss
     — Celestine Nudanu
crashing waves —
muffling the speaker 
on my sick day call
     — Maureen Gorman
sick day —
I miss the THF deadline
of workplace haiku
     — Angelee Deodhar

Next Week’s Theme: Looking Out the Office Window

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 19 October 2015.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. I wish I had seen that earlier… Here is my contribution, although it is late:
    Sick days following-
    the hours at work
    a relief from thoughts


  2. Dear esteemed poet,
    Warm greetings! Going through the entire
    copious flow of thoughts wonderfully carved, right from flu, golf course, doctor’s advice, lovesick and cleaning the party — so many other beautiful takes- the last one -missing the dead line for workplace haiku- re read again and again, the fun of it.
    with regards

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