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Haiku in the Workplace: Working from Home

As one who has spent much of the last quarter-century working from home, I am aware of the many plusses and minuses that come with the terrain. The boss may be a miscreant, but at least I know where he is, and I can produce work on my own schedule, which often includes the middle of the night and weekends. On the other hand, there are no office pools or shared lunches, and I pay for my own water cooler. Is it ideal? Well, hardly that, but pretty good for someone of the right temperament. What did our poets make of the topic?

For some, such an opportunity was, predictably, a lark:

illicit pleasure —
an extra two hours in bed
working from home
	[David Dayson]
and for some, license:
work at home —
I open my suitcase
to moth flies
	[Ernesto Santiago]

and for some, even an excursion into empathy:

working from home
through the eyes of a child
his simplified world
	[Ernesto Santiago]

On the whole, however, it did not amount to an opportunity for commingling with the Muse, and the poems on this topic were, for the most part, lacking. My choices, therefore, are offered tepidly. My third choice, for instance, tells rather than shows us the beauty he describes:

No commute to work —
How beautiful to dream
whilst awake
	[Noble Francis]

while my second choice baffles with construction, which I take to simulate the mindspace of the poet, but could just as easily be, simply, cleverness (though pleasing to those of us who like a good conundrum):

not at work —

at home at work but

not at home
	[David Dayson]

Still, I felt these had enough more to recommend them to put them on the short list. The noticing of the waking dream is perhaps something easily missed in the office, where we are more likely to be interrupted, and likewise, noting the odd consciousness of being both “on the clock” and “out of the office” carries its own freight. And so I select them here.

The only poem I feel I can wholly endorse, and my top choice, is cheeky, and suggestive of time well spent — whether or not the job got completed:

tell-tale tan —
back to work after working
from home
	[David Dayson]

The first line sets a clear image in the reader’s mind. I like the way the middle line creates its own synopsis of the time period. In a themed collection as this is, the repetition of “back to work” might make this seem too much, but as a stand-alone poem, where it would have to suggest its own context, this works admirably, is carefully crafted, catchy, and even leaves a little frisson for the third line. Nicely crafted, and enough to make us all look forward to our next assignment — at home.

New Poems

home office 
the dog interrupts
my daydream
     — Roberta Beary

          *

between cups of tea
and the washing
I reply to the boss
     — Rachel Sutcliffe

          *

working from home
casual Fridays in
my birthday suit
     — Michael Henry Lee

          *

working from home . . .
Madame Butterfly’s high notes
keep me awake
     — Eufemia Griffo

          *

home works
on my credit reports
a gaping cat
     — Ernesto P. Santiago

          *

Between video calls
an icy beer
And the perfume of you
     — Angela Giordano

          *

home office 
my paperweight 
preens her fur
     — Amy Losak

          *

neighbours’ mower
dog, cat, kids, phone, TV, fridge . . .
goodbye that deadline
     — Marietta McGregor

          *

working from home
my broadband internet
doesn’t cooperate
     — Willie Bongcaron

          *

working from home
the joy of a kitchen
nearby
     — Adjei Agyei-Baah

          *

teleconference call
my presentation forgotten 
I breast feed the baby
     — Angelee Deodhar

          *

home office Skype —
wardrobe malfunction
and a bad hair day
     — Mark Gilbert

          *

a tiny nap
in my home-based office
the weary tomcat
     — Eva Limbach

          *

the big cat saunters in
another  impromptu meeting
working from home
     — Gail Oare

          *

wet morning
spreading over the worksheets
a bowl of soup
     — Celestine Nudanu

          *

working from home
productivity measured
in empty teacups
     — Andy McLellan

          *

ISP slowing
deadlines approaching 
confidence escalates
     — Katherine Stella

          *

video conference —
in my suit and tie
and boxers
     — Enrique Garrovillo

          *

divide loyalty
from kitchen to computer
pain-lit bonanza
     — S. Radhamani

          *

denial of service attack telecommuters stuck in traffic
     — Michael Lester

          *

deadline day
the lunch soup
was too thin
     — Kerstin Park

          *

working from home
on a tropical island . . .
daydream
     — Valentina Ranaldi-Adams

          *

babysitting
spreadsheets
still in my pyjamas
     — Paul Millar

          *

working from home
a quick detour 
for haiku submissions
     — Madhuri Pillai

          *

this heat!
telecommuting in
my underwear
     — Johnny Baranski

          *

working from home —
I miss the morning line
at the coffee machine
     — Marta Chocilowska

          *

winter break
correcting student diaries
with a purple pen
     — Carmen Sterba

          *

unread messages
a house sparrow flutters
by my computer
     — Timothy J. Dickey

          *

Cheese samich
He cut the crusts
Off my workload
     — Erin Castaldi

          *

working from home
I catch myself talking
to no one
     — Pat Davis

          *

working at home —
the employee switches
his roles
     — Tomislav Maretic

          *

work assignment 
at home my laptop 
purrrrrs
     — Paul Geiger

          *

hard day
for the freelance writer
a prayer to Saint Bede
     — Lee Nash

          *

working from home —
I can’t be in the office 
but I’m not even at home

lavoro da casa —
non posso essere in ufficio
ma neanche a casa
     — Lucia Cardillo

          *

cartoonist . . .
the hardest work is 
to keep children away
     — Elisa Allo

          *

work from home
too old
for homework
     — Olivier Schopfer

          *

career at home
prolonging the life
of my engine
     — Cezar Ciobika

          *

home office attire
i wear a bathrobe
to the board meeting
     — Jennifer Hambrick

          *

eastern Phoebe’s
nervous anapest
itemized on my dime
     — Ron Scully

          *

conference call
in the midst of bickering   
a barking dog
     — Devin Harrison

          *

coffee in bed
finishing the last lesson
at sunrise
     — Frank J. Tassone

          *


Next Week’s Theme: Kindness from a Colleague

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 8 September 2015.

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Dear esteemed poet,
    Greetings. Reading one by one. Capturing each one’s experiences for the theme. Allen’s note on Karen -appreciate.
    with regards
    S.Radhamani

  2. .
    .
    Here’s one from my wife who wrote this nearly fifteen years ago:
    .
    .
    working from home
    in my best business voice
    and my nightie
    .
    Karen Hoy
    .
    First publication credit:
    Blithe Spirit Vol. 12 No. 3, September 2002
    (British Haiku Society journal ISSN 1353-3320)

    .
    .

    Two Anthology credits:
    .
    Fifty-Seven Damn Good Haiku by a Bunch of Our Friends
    ISBN 978-1-878798-31-2 (2010) ed. Michael Dylan Welch & Alan Summers
    pub. PRESS HERE Sammamish, Washington USA
    .
    .
    The Humours of Haiku ed. David Cobb
    ISBN 978-0-9565725-4-7 (Iron Press 2012)
    http://www.ironpress.co.uk/books/humours.html
    .
    .

    1. I really like that one of Karen’s, Alan and remember it well. She was more modestly dressed than some of those above – especially Michael Henry in his birthday suit! 🙂 🙂 🙂

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