The pain of business travel was evident in your many excellent responses to this week’s challenge. For some it arose from disorientation most manifest in the sameness of place:
Conference room Anywhere Nowhere [Evan D. Flaschen]
For others from the sense of separation from others:
Together we are Yet collectively alone On the Central Line [Frederik van der Zeeuw]
And for yet others from some telling detail that most suggested they were far from home:
my coat sleeve swaying from the luggage hold drowsy moon [Paul Chambers]
Some were even able to find a bit of wry humor in their circumstance:
airport meeting— the growing tension of compression socks [Lew Watts]
Such humor nicely counterbalances any possibility of taking the work too seriously. My third selection also deflates any sense of self-importance:
airport arrivals— my misspelt name among balloons [Lew Watts]
This is not merely humor, however. There is an ache of homesickness in recognizing that the public gaiety and not-quite-professional hospitality of the meet-and-greet is just a facade, a means of making you feel as though you are welcome, when in fact you are just another client, just another payday.
My second choice is nimbly self-reflexive, and opens a host of questions:
aloft he dreams he no longer dreams of flying [Andy Coleman]
It’s impossible to tell how the author feels about this situation, but the matter is really intended to redound upon the reader. We know the author is flying, so he is not yet to the point where the dream has taken him. But the reader can inhabit both the “real” situation and the “dream” situation simultaneously. Is there sadness there due to the loss of ambition? Relief? Dread? The poem allows the reader to fill in the blanks with her own affect, personalizing it. A very great achievement in nine words.
Finally, travel can sometimes make us aware of what we most value, as in my top selection:
slow descent— this sudden urge to share life stories [Lew Watts]
We know the statistics, we know flying is safe, and yet we also know that the many tons of steel that now encase us is currently falling to the earth. Our certainty of mortality lies in direct proportion to the protraction of the descent. What might have been for us an insular flight becomes, at the last moment, an opportunity to find, even among strangers, a common humanity. This assertion of what matters most to us is triggered by a moment’s anxiety, suggesting such things lie much nearer to the surface than we normally allow, and perfectly caught in this small gem.
traveling at night to work a fruit bat — Ernesto P. Santiago * take off I watch the office block shrink — Rachel Sutcliffe * a kiss to the son — every morning by train between strangers — Angela Giordano * fear of flying — the travel agent dreams of palms — Anna Maria Domburg-Sancristoforo * first business trip documents not lunch in my briefcase — Valentina Ranaldi-Adams * home at last — my long-legged travel companion goes unmentioned . . . — Maria Laura Valenta * calculating mileage the distance between us — Jennifer Hambrick * jell-o shots the closing session i can’t remember — Sandi Pray * airport shuttle a heel or two eases out of loafers — Lamart Cooper * the merry-go-round of out-of-town talks . . . a different hotel's ballpoint — Marietta McGregor * base to base helicopter flight with open door — Paul Geiger * dad abroad — my postcard collection growing — Angiola Inglese * all-conference reception a tiny lizard darts and hides — Timothy J. Dickey * having missed my train someone will pay for another beer — Mark Gilbert * who knows — why a “zero” discount on my ticket — Maria Teresa Sisti * driver’s chatter of fines and Moulin Rouge — the moon rises — Margherita Petriccione * work travel hand baggage lighter by weight — Srinivasa Rao Sambangi Sambang * Cold in hotel — the teddy bear little son in your briefcase — Nazarena Rampini * striding the airport wearing a fit bit Odysseus 2.0 — Jan Benson * another trip — I blow out the candles all alone — Elisa Allo * work travel a love note before leaving — Eufemia Griffo * work travel in the hotel mini-fridge guilty pleasures — Debbi Antebi * flight delayed business meeting on skype at airport lounge — Neha R. Krishna * hotel room to keep me company a chocolate on my pillow — Olivier Schopfer * best vacation in years Helsinki work trip — Christina Sng * door to door peddling the existence of God — Michael Henry Lee * night flight another city another conference how I miss my dog — Madhuri Pillai * morning haze over Los Angeles departing planes — Deborah P Kolodji * back from work spring frogs in counterpoint — Lucia Fontana * conference in Las Vegas she knits yet another pair of baby shoes — Marina Bellini * landed New Delhi luggage on to Shanghai new sari — Trilla Pando * the best of beers and falling in love . . . expenses paid — Michael Stinson * morning commute he reads Getting Published I dream out the window — Sonam Chhoki * car crash — a body extracted from the hearse — Antonio Mangiameli * travels light pen and pencil in pocket poet at work — Karen Harvey * A two star hotel my boss penny-wise — Pasquale Asprea * Panamanian heat my workshop begins with reggae-ton — Terry Ann Carter *
Next Week’s Theme: The Answering Machine
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 13 November 2014.