Ah, children. It’s not enough that they are burdened with our poor modeling of adult behavior at home — no, we must also display it at work, so they will have an idea of what to avoid when they grow up. But they probably won’t . . .
Most of our poets found that the children behaved admirably — indeed, inspirationally — in the work space —
in the midst of office turmoil the calm — focus of a child [David Dayson]
had a decidedly bracing effect —
icy colleagues — thaw as children flood into the office [David Dayson]
and were missed instantly once having left —
keyboards rattle tunelessly after children leave — with their music [David Dayson]
The effect they have had will probably fade, but in the short term must be deemed positive —
Typing nonsense, lost pens, spinning on chairs – that’s just my boss! [Sarah Leavesley]
The best of these, in my view, takes place just a bit later —
next day at school — show and tell a memory stick from the office [David Dayson]
This poem neatly confounds our expectations. What threatens to wallow in generalities actually morphs into a useful metaphor, recounting a planned outcome, and possibly — it’s hard to be sure — a pilferage. This is created by the poet’s adroit management of form — breaking the term “memory stick” in the middle and sharing it between two lines, we are led to the brink of platitude (ah, the memories!) only to be rescued by the specifics of the event. The third line is often the “tell” in haiku, when the scene or sense is suddenly shifted to reveal the unexpected that is somehow even more obvious than the expected. The poet here plays us, and we, childlike in our trusts and innocence, are grateful.
demanding a burger . . . the boss wears ponytails — Willie Bongcaron * spending a day in the life of my father a worker ant — Ernesto P. Santiago * daughters in the office — on fogged windows “we love you Mom” — Doris Pascolo * the children’s questions — why can’t I conceive? — Rachel Sutcliffe * lawfirm desk a daughter finds her photo — Roberta Beary * bring-your-child-to-work day — the childless woman calls in sick — Jennifer Hambrick * A bit shy my son shakes hands with an elder In the nursing home — Kristjaan Panneman * Je-Khen-po briefing the toddler helps herself to the fruit offerings — Sonam Chhoki Je-Khen-po: Chief Abbot of the Monastic Body * babycare in the workplace — nappy change on headmaster’s desk — Maria Laura Valente * identical ties and frowns dad and sons on Bring Your Child to Work Day — Angelee Deodhar * lecture hall — among unknown students my daughter’s face — Anna Maria Domburg-Sancristoforo * kids to work day everyone using their outside voice — Michael Henry Lee * seismic shift a first grader straightens up the stacks on my desk — Gail Oare * my child protégé accompanies me to work retirement plan — Karen Harvey * ‘once upon a time’ we illustrate sales figures with unicorns — Andy McLellan * childhood memories dropping my pants in front of daddy’s workers — Celestine Nudanu * business meeting . . . my child next to me can you tell me a story, mom? — Eufemia Griffo * Inquiry reproduction who what when where why? take kid to work day — Katherine Stella * kids invade my office . . . all those trapped in child labor — Olivier Schopfer * my request to bring my dog rejected . . . — Samantha Sirimanne Hyde * bringing her son to work for therapy — Danny Blackwell * kindergarten on strike — mascot for a day in mom’s classroom sciopero al nido — mascotte per un giorno nella classe di mamma — Elisa Alla * whacking the rattle at the keyboard . . . one of those days — Mark Gilbert * showing a condo — my young daughter points out a roach — Marilyn Appl Walker * He smiles his son in the workplace The new playground Sorride il figlio sul posto di lavoro Il nuovo parco giochi — Angela Giordano * son at work day loyalty check by my boss — Srinivasa Rao Sambangi * the surgeon’s daughter playing with his scalpel bloody cheek — Mike Gallagher * my child in office — the sketch of his hand for me on a post-it mio figlio in ufficio disegna la sua mano per me su un post-it — Lucia Cardillo * nanny’s day off a buzz of the spinning top at the team meeting — Marta Chocilowska * staff meeting all eyes on the boss’s child — Billy Antonio * like last year she mentions her miscarriage on this day at work . . . — Adrian Bouter * day at dad’s work dad drives the backhoe through a knothole — Paul Geiger * eight year old’s questions the boss scratches his head — Madhuri Pillai * brought them to work the machines start to whirr a child’s mind — Rebecca Harvey * bottom three shelves rearranged by rainbow largely books my daughter’s read — Ron Scully * child-friendly office fur-baby snores and farts under her desk — Marietta McGregor * a time with kid at workplace he calls my boss grandma — Adjei Agyei-Baah * boardroom with my cape and mask on visitors enter without notice — Anthony Rabang *
Next Week’s Theme: First Day at the New Job
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 11 May 2015.