Skip to content

Haiku in the Workplace: The Answering Machine

My three winners, as usual, meet the requirements of the theme, and also offer something a bit more. My third place winner has a lovely nostalgic tone:

even at Christmas
when I see your email
I long for Christmas
	Andrew Coleman

This is an homage to Basho’s great and famous poem

   Even in Kyoto —
hearing the cuckoo’s cry —
   I long for Kyoto.

and I would have scored it higher had it been entirely original to the poet.

In second place I have chosen the truly Scrooge-ish

please understand
your message will not matter
in January
	Andrew Coleman

So harsh, but is it not really honest? Can it not be construed a kindness to lay the truth before the caller? In the name of the season, of course.

My top choice is a wonderful bit of misdirection:

there is no room
in the in-
	Andrew Coleman

True kindness: the caller need not leave a message (which, as we already know, will be insignificant by the time it would have been returned), and need not expect a reply. We are all released from our duties to simply partake of the season. All neatly suggested by passing reference to one of the foundational stories of the season. Nicely played.

New Poems

phoning in
my resignation
the answerphone full
     — Rachel Sutcliffe
another late night
between mugs of coffee
I leave messages
     — Sonam Chhoki
Segreteria —
una voce allegra
copre il mio pianto
Greeting message —
a smiling voice
covers my tears
     — Monica Federico
Just the same message
again and again —
I seek  my inner zen
     — Anna Maria Domburg
answering machine
the new office clerk
a know-it-all
     — Johnny Baranski
heavy traffic
the red flashing light 
of my answerphone
     — Ernesto P. Santiago
my impossible day
answering machine
     — Devin Harrison
grocery list
in the middle of meeting 
my wife’s call
     — Neha R. Krishna
“Leave a message after the beep” . . .
I yell at the boss,
disguising my voice
     — Maria Laura Valente
for those who know
who knows the fantastic
a reminder
     — Antonio Mangiameli
press one . . . press two . . .
lost in an endless
phone maze
     — Valentina Ranaldi-Adams
fast asleep . . .
message at midnight
a late check-in
     — Samantha Sirimanne Hyde
solar eclipse
the answering machine 
cuts off before i
     — Jennifer Hambrick
the machine assures me that
my call is important
     — Michael Henry Lee
“voice mailbox full”
again, the value
of deep breathing
     — Sandi Pray
graveyard shift . . .
press “1” if you would like to talk
to a human being
     — Mark Gilbert
capturing the moon
...................letting it go
to answerphone
     — Brendon Kent
always there
for my convenience
your tinny voice
     — Marietta McGregor
after the beep —
the silence
I scramble to fill
     — Debbi Antebi
that “dulcet” tone 
fighting the impulse
to end the call
     — Sonam Chhoki
answering machine
in the background
the rain sound
     — Eufemia Griffo
answering machine
between your words . . .
bird sounds
     — Valorie Woerdehoff
newtons cradle . . .
his pitch again
on the answering machine
     — Steve Smolak
singing along
again with the musak
answering machine
     — Christina Sng
the only message
kept on the machine —
your goodbye
     — Angela Giordano
answering machine
a therapy session available
on saturday night
     — Lucia Fontana
Mozart’s notes —
impatiently I wait
for a click
     — Maria Theresa Sisti
your call is important 
the message repeats 
the rhythmic tap of my fingers
     — Madhuri Pillai
estate in ufficio —
il dialetto del mio paese
nella segreteria telefonica
summer in the office —
the dialect of her country
in a  voice mail
     — Margherita Petriccione
voice mail -
so the metallic sound
of your voice
     — Angiola Inglese
no message
on my answering machine
rising fog 
     — Olivier Schopfer (Failed Haiku 1.9, 2016)
phoning in sick
my voice on the answerphone
‘after the tone please . . .’
     — Karen Harvey
On hold —
A minute of Vivaldi’s Spring
     — Nazarena Rampini
Friday evening —
my answering machine jammed
with tasks from my boss
     — Diana Teneva
answering machine —
among antiques
in my son’s smart phone
     — Srinivasa Rao Sambangi
Valentine’s day: 
my boss will speak only
to a metallic voice
     — Elisa Allo
recognizing myex-wife
on the answering machine
among strangers
     — Goran Gatalica
Monday morning
lift the receiver for callbacks . . . silence
     — Paul Geiger
I am away 
from my phone right now —
or not
     — Michel Stinson
curse —
but held back before 
the “beep” signal

Imprecazioni —
ma trattenute  prima 
del segnale “beep”
     — Lucia Cardillo

Next Week’s Theme: The Mentor

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 4 December 2014.

This Post Has 3 Comments

Comments are closed.

Back To Top