Poets’ responses were surprisingly sympathetic towards the idea of “boss” in this latest round. Many chose to project an image of a person making difficult decisions at a personal cost, an admirable figure who shoulders responsibility:
tiger stripes and eyes mark out his stride; his proud stance fierce yet lonely [Sarah Leavesley]
though at least one poet made a distinction between similar roles:
a leader bends with adversity . . . a boss just snaps [David Dayson]
My third prize winner chooses to feature the heroic aspect of the boss in his milieu:
as the sun crawls up and Big Ben chimes us in, his third black coffee [Sarah Leavesley]
We admire the tenacity, the will to purpose, and appreciate his sacrifice, grateful that it’s not us.
My second prize elects a different aspect of the leader, recognizing human frailty as part of the package:
turbulent flight the chairman grips my hand [Marion Clarke]
This is a complicated poem, it seems to me. Though it can be read as an exposé, in truth it suggests this leader has his fears, like all of us, and is willing to face them — he is flying, after all. And he is willing to let others witness these anxieties. This could have the effect of actually bringing those in his employ to a closer understanding of him, a human response. And of course fear of flying doesn’t necessarily make for a lesser leader where it matters most.
My top choice, however, takes a completely different tack, employing a metaphoric element to reflect an idealized conception of leadership:
off stage . . . the piano tuner’s silent joy [David Dayson]
A piano tuner is probably not most people’s idea of a boss, but here he is emblematic of someone who has done all the necessary work, behind the scenes and silently, to bring off the concert to perfection. He is willing to allow the personalities of the world to shine as they must, knowing he has made it possible, even if few others do. Is this the way your boss operates? What a great example for you. Let him know you know.
once again this week my boss belittles me finding new words — Charlotte Digregorio, Modern Haiku XXVII.2 (1996) * overcast sky and my boss’s matching suit — Nikolay Grankin * being patient for the wrong boss a fat paycheck — Ernesto Santiago * casual Friday dressed down by the boss — Johnny Baranski, Prune Juice 15 (2015) * the boss’ jumping reindeer tie — year-end bonuses — Radka Mindova * Old teacher Still writing with a blue pen — Anna Maria Domburg-Sancristoforo * the boss but she doesn’t know it yet baby daughter — Christina Sng * self employed telling my boss to get lost — Rachel Sutcliffe * basement office I ask the boss for a raise — Terri French * Christmas jumper the accounts director even dorkier — Marion Clarke * annual review my boss evaluates my haiku — Amy Losak * whispering stops immediately as the boss enters — Kristjaan Panneman * capricious boss . . . autumn whispers in the office — Mohammad Azim Khan * silvery moon the boss slips into something more revealing — Michael Henry Lee * headmaster’s glare — suddenly I become a pupil again — Maria Laura Valente * after work another boss at home — Olivier Schopfer * March equinox my boss hands me two tickets to Kyoto — Marta Chocilowska * a slave at home working on the computer boss’s a real driver — Paul Geiger * seeing the guv’nor I am even more annoyed with my smile — Shrikaanth Krishnamurthy * dress suit tie all thumbs groping for words — Betty Shropshire * late at work I bypass boss's cabin — Aparna Pathak * new boss she calls herself a friend — Ralf Bröker * a forcefield around the figurehead office Christmas — Marietta McGregor * a hard day . . . i take over the boss's tic when he leaves — George Swede, Frogpond (1997) * passing spring my boss has his eye on boxwood pruning — Srinivasa Rao Sambangi * morning darkness — at the office before the boss to get some work done — Jennifer Hambrick * singing to me a honey-do list — morning meadowlark — Chad Lee Robinson, A Hundred Gourds 5:3 * office politics . . . just a pretty face at the helm — Samantha Sirimanne Hyde * sunny weekend I run into my boss' smile — Debbi Antebi * Secret Santa draw the boss's name — Deborah P Kolodji *
Next Week’s Theme: The Office Flirt with a reminder this is the time of office parties . . .
Send your poem using “workplace haiku” as the subject by Sunday midnight to our Contact Form. Good luck!
From 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 2 October 2014, edited 26 October 2016.