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Haiku in the Workplace: The Team Meeting

The relinquishing of self to a larger entity and purpose may indeed be noble, far-sighted, practical, philanthropic, and a host of other things, even all at once, but that doesn’t mean it’s always a pleasure. Judging by the bulk of your responses, your meetings are much like mine. Often they are full of sound and fury, signifying nothing:

Crisis talks,
Management decision,
Tea urn repaired.
	[Stuart Brown]

Or else they are much ado about nothing:

a team of kites
in untuned harmony . . .
play the wind
	[David Dayson]

What else to do but seek solace in humor?

lunch time meeting —
strategy and tactics
then just desserts
	[David Dayson]

My third choice was based primarily on the resourcefulness of the participants:

alert attendees
hang on every word —
buzzword bingo
	[Stuart Brown]

Now that’s creative teamwork! The poet also gets the reader to hang on every word, then delivers the punchline with perfect timing. Bingo!

My second choice this week rides primarily on a delicious portmanteau word:

tiresome meeting —
lifted up by endolphins
at a water fountain
	[David Dayson]

We too are lifted by such an auspicious concatenation, just what we need after the juice-sapping of the weekly accounting.

My top choice this week captures the essence of haiku very neatly:

Office gathering
Laid bare under neon lights
Empty pizza box
	[Greg Skeen]

Haiku most often find their resonance in the most mundane places, and what is more mundane than an empty pizza box? Yet the whole story is here: the office “gathering” which is a nice euphemism for working late; the paltry and unimaginative rewards (not even crusts left over, and box? not even boxes?; and the gaudy but probably modest work environment. And despite this meagre picture, a sense of team — a collective of individuals willing to sacrifice to a common aim — emerges, without ever having been caught in the spotlight. Nicely observed.

New Poems

self employed —
the most efficient team meeting
ever
     — Maria Laura Valente

          *

the committee —
disagreeing 
on how to agree
     — Valentina Ranaldi-Adams

          *

controlling
any other business
the chair
     — Ernesto P. Santiago

          *

team meeting outdoor 
the hawk cuckoo repeatedly calls
“who’s in the cowshed?”
     — Sonam Chhoki

          *

team meeting
finally we agree
to disagree
     — Rachel Sutcliffe

          *

early team meeting —
writing a haiku
to stay awake
     — Anna Maria Domburg-Sancristoforo

          *

lingering fog
i pretend to take notes
at a boring meeting
     — Polona Oblak

          *

team building exercise
cubicle dwellers 
in a mud wrestling pit
     — Terri French

          *

team meeting
at the end I ask
about the acronyms
     — Nicholas Klacsanzky

          *

peer review —
crested cockatoos crash
the faculty meeting
     — Julie Thorndyke

          *

team meeting —
all hands in
the box of donuts
     — Chad Lee Robinson

          *

yellow legal pad . . .
all the good ideas
in a wastebasket
     — Shloka Shankar

          *

team meeting
the mantra takes on
a life of its own
     — Michael Henry Lee

          *

team briefing
doodling
miles away
     — Mark Gilbert

          *

team meeting the sand trap’s raised lip service
     — Betty Shropshire

          *

team meeting —
pigeons gather
on the factory roof
     — Andy McLellan

          *

communications team meeting
under the table 
we text jokes
     — Peggy Bilbro

          *

breakfast team meeting
the important topics discussed
only after coffee
     — Christina Sng

          *

rogue wave —
the day there’s really a team
at the team meeting
     — Jennifer Hambrick

          *

team meeting —
under the table
her foot his leg
     — Adrian Bouter

          *

new recruits
the resource guy has a way
with words
     — Willie Bongcaron

          *

the jay’s shadow descends
and a junco jumps
team meeting
     — Michael Stinson

          *

bickering
like birds —
the new team
     — Angela Giordano

          *

team meeting
the silence back
in a bee’s flight
     — Lucia Fontana

          *

song of distant magpies
I drift
through the meeting
     — Timothy J. Dickey

          *

team meeting . . .
get a ‘take away’ or not
on the way home
     — Madhuri Pillai

          *

meeting . . .
I draw daisies 
among my notes

riunione . . .
disegno margherite
tra i miei appunti
     — Lucia Cardillo

          *

team Meeting
on my  schedule
wish list
     — Eufemia Griffo

          *

transgenic seed 
sheep grazing —
food meeting 
     — Antonio Mangiameli

          *

ad hoc —
team aware of everything
but no schedule
     — Goran Gatalica

          *

the I in team
she shares my idea
as her own
     — Debbi Antebi

          *

brainstorming . . .
too original ideas
Principal waves them off
     — Elisa Allo

          *

too many paths
we stray off
the way home
     — Olivier Schopfer

          *

the team meeting
in the lawyer’s office
deep snoring
     — Marta Chocilowska

          *

the team meets 
ten engineers 
eleven opinions
     — Paul Geiger

          *

team meeting
the squabble
of magpies
     — Christine L. Villa

          *


Next Week’s Theme: Maternity/Paternity Leave

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 20 February 2015.

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