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Haiku in the Workplace: The Post-Holiday Season

Post-holiday blues is a real ailment:

come down — Post Tinsel
Stress Disorder
	[David Dayson]

perhaps not quite so of-the-moment as PTSD, but much more widespread. And in this case, entirely self-inflicted. The sugar high of the holiday season induces a sugar crash in the dark days that follow:

after holidays
the repeat episode
of January gloom
	[Ernesto Santiago]

which we often compound by setting ourselves unrealistic goals of how we would like to be, or behave, or appear, in the new year:

tinsel packed away —
we turn to detox diets
next year's holiday
	[David Dayson]

No wonder things seem so glum!

January chill —
slipping up on broken
	[David Dayson]

The good news is that things usually get better — we become realistic about our resolutions, daylight lasts longer, and we get back on a more even keel with our emotions.

pine tree discarded —
we recycle ourselves
into New Year
	[David Dayson]

One of the ways to expunge our gloom is by writing about it! I hope these helped.

I was intrigued by the number of poems that employed literary techniques in this batch. Such techniques are generally eschewed in haiku, which traditionally has aimed more for a ding an sich approach to content. But I think these are worth noting. We find, for example, straightforward personification:

January strides in —
New Year's resolutions 
softly tiptoe out
	[David Dayson]

as well as metonymy (where a related term is substituted for the word itself — this example uses two):

panto season ends —
a hoarse dame and a lame horse
limp into New Year
	[David Dayson]

and this clever version of onomatopoeia:

onomoneywoe —
credit card bills after
	[David Dayson]

My three winners this week all do the work that these already-mentioned poems do, but in addition capture their moments in specific images rather than general terms. My third choice, for instance, is exactly what we think a haiku ought to be:

all that remains —
pine tree needles pricking
stockinged feet
	[David Dayson]

We have a clear image relevant to the theme — remnant pine needles — and an activity where we might notice them — walking in stockinged feet. The small pricks are exactly that, on their first level, but also open to a second reading, wherein they become emblematic of the little impingements of the season, the letdown following the big day. The opening line works well enough, though it does have a slightly portentous feel in this context, which is why this does not score higher.

The circumstance of our second choice is nothing if not self-induced:

gloom unfestooned —
a long hangover spills
into New Year
	[David Dayson]

The conception of the “long hangover” captures our theme perfectly, and is easily visualized (saving us the pain of experiencing it ourselves). The choice of verb sloshes it into greater detail, and leakage seems apropos in this context. There is also the darkening effect of that repeated “oo” sound in the first line. All these indicate the poet’s control of his material.

This week’s top choice:

winter shelters close —
under cover of moonlight
homeless disappear 
	[David Dayson]

is also, of course, keenly noted and sharply etched. The first line clearly limns the situation with no waste. And the third continues on to the expected consequence. It is in the second line that this poem rises above the descriptive. There is something about it, real or imagined, that deepens the sadness of this already sad situation. “Under cover” feels furtive, and to have this take place under “moonlight,” which is, after all, illuminating (if not quite the sun), creates a sense of unexplained menace. There is a sense that this dispersement, though visible, is yet invisible, and the emotion evoked cheapens the gaud of what has come before, even if it was heartfelt. The author abides by the strict syllable count here, too, and this formal element makes the whole event more structured, which makes it worse, as though this loss is built in to the system, unavoidable. Such treatment can feel padded out in some instances but feels perfectly natural here.

The good news is that this season already behind us. We have another 50 weeks to gather the strength to face another holiday season. We probably should get started.
New Poems

after the holidays
the Grinch still perched
at the bosses' desk
     — Terri French
before dawn —
the alarm clock reminds me 
end holidays
     — Maria Teresa Sisti
after the holidays 
a company 
of hangovers
     — Ernesto P. Santiago
holidays over
the tight constraint
of this tie
     — Rachel Sutcliffe
post-christmas lull
the queen bee 
can't get no
     — Roberta Beary
the wintering 
of my corporate path 
an email from H.R.
     — Jan Benson
rough morning
a carton of kefir
cools my hand
     — Nikolay Grankin
Santa came
Santa went
I am still here
     — Anna Maria Domburg-Sancristoforo
stray tinsel —
in the web
     — Beth McFarland
back to school —
I still write 2016
in the daily log
     — Marina Bellini
post holiday
everyone in the office
on the same diet
     — Michael Henry Lee
january airtime —
the messiah has come
and gone
     — Jennifer Hambrick
cold January —
compelled to accept
the new contract
     — Pasquale Asprea
back to work
a Christmas tree in the gutter
fragments of tinsel
     — Paul J. Geiger
January office memo
new year changed 
by hand
     — Peggy Bilbro
early morning street
the sound of wind
through abandoned Christmas trees
     — Olivier Schopfer
first morning 
the fog in my coffee 
dreams an office
     — Brendon Kent
end of holiday —
the beginning
of a new countdown
     — Maria Laura Valente
eating paperclips
this attempt to be ready
for the office manager
     — Alan Summers
the new moon
Christmas lights blinking
at an empty room
     — Debbi Antebi
half price sale
black leather daily planners
retired too soon
     – Ron Scully
post-holiday stress
the office inflatables
in a slow meltdown
     — Marilyn Appl Walker
January blues
yet again I rewrite 
my resolutions
     — Marion Clarke
end of holidays
the coal miner checks
his headlamp
     — Pravat Kumar Padhy
on my bookshelf
seeking Think and Grow Rich . . .
finding Walden
     — Charlotte Digregorio (Frogpond 19:1, 1996)
post-holiday week
the coffee machine
all to myself
     — Christina Sng
post-holiday time —
after all these calories
difficult decisions
     — Goran Gatalica
tropical vibes
at the watercooler
Bali short break
     — Marietta McGregor
post boxing day
all those wishes
in my trash box
     — Srinivasa Rao Sambangi
First Action —
remember password
then google ‘Easter’
     — Mark Gilbert
droops faces retirement
iris arrives
     — Trilla Pando
post holiday blues
my suntan fades 
as i wade through emails
     — Jennifer Sutherland

Next Week’s Theme: Balancing Work with Life

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 January 2016.

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Say What…

    November dusk
    On a bare limb
    repeal trump

    frozen pond
    the capital building appears
    between the crack

    above the inaugural
    crow caws darken

    1. Say What…

      November dusk
      on a bare limb
      repeal trump

      frozen pond
      the capital building appears
      between the crack

      above the inaugural
      crow caws darken

  2. A very enjoyable and often humourous read Jim, thank you…..
    Although I am not working at present, I would like to offer this…

    boardroom stage-fright
    chancing new office-speak
    the new C.E.O.

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