My brief stints as a boss do give me some insight into how difficult the position can be — if you are troubled by conscience. If not, then anything (I say) goes. Your submissions made apparent that most of your bosses are untroubled.
This, however, serves more as a detriment and distraction to your poetic musings than an opportunity. Egotism and willfulness make for easy targets, primarily through satire and caricature, and neither of these techniques lends itself amiably to haiku, though they are the very stuff of senryu. So we should consider all of the following to fall into this latter category.
The most unusual poem submitted for this topic was
off stage — a piano tuner enjoys success [David Dayson]
and though it doesn’t exactly fit the description, it’s a good enough poem that I wanted to make sure it received some attention. More typical of your responses is
an ideal boss — ascends but transcends their own self [David Dayson]
I’m not sure this entirely works (“ascends their own self?;” and if that is too fanciful a reading, then “ascends” what?) but we take the point. This poem falls more into the line of an apophthegm, and the sentiment it expresses probably stands for nearly all of our respondents, and a good many other laborers as well.
My third choice this week is
My generation’s ideal boss must be me, Me, ME! [Sarah Leavesley]
A bit of self-parody always lightens our mood. This poet has taken the opportunity to spoof himself, the notion of the boss, and his entire generation, all in one swell foop! Nicely played.
My second choice casts a colder eye on the role:
my boss is perfect: right stance, right rules, right until the new chief arrives [Sarah Leavesley]
I first read this poem to mean that the boss’s boss had been replaced, and that the boss now was experiencing the same upheaval that the workers undergo on a more regular basis. In this reading, the boss, who has perfected a way of being that the poet extols, is forced to change, with who knows what consequences for the workers. But upon second and third consideration, I think it is the boss himself who has been exchanged. The poem then is more a cautionary tale that not all is as it seems, and that even the most exemplary of leaders is merely a cog in a machine, whose purposes is veiled, and who is easily replaced.
My top choice this week draws on literature and folk tale:
the best boss knows — it’s Pinocchio’s honesty with Cyrano’s flair [David Dayson]
The homely pun (“the best boss nose”) leads us into a quick study of character as exemplified by two well-known tellers of “truths.” I’m not sure everyone would agree with the poet’s opinion, but calling into play the range of possibilities a boss has at her disposal does highlight one of the nuanced responsibilities of leadership. How much do we tell, and to whom? And how to couch it within the needs and goals of the larger enterprise? Her employees, however, are at a disadvantage: it’s unlikely the boss has such an easy “tell” as either of these characters, so knowing what to believe is all the more challenging. It’s probably best to presume none of what we’re told is true, to a greater or lesser extent. For the rest, we must rely upon the value of “flair” . . .
birthday wishes — a precious book on my desk — Doris Pascolo * the ideal boss — George Clooney who else? — Anna Maria Domburg-Sancristoforo * efficiently working the job on demand a sharp blade — Ernesto P. Santiago * what! an ideal boss? read the inscription the boss is never wrong! — Celestine Nudanu * my perfect boss smiles at me through the mirror — Maria Laura Valente * making my coffee just the way I like it the ideal boss — Angelee Deodhar * self-employed the boss hands me a cash bonus — Roberta Beary * hardly in his seat does not bother latecomers — S. Radhamani Sarma * another stress-filled day my boss talks me off the ledge again — Amy Losak * planting seeds . . . my garden in spring the ideal boss — Rachel Sutcliffe * nothing works! my perfect boss can tame the shrew in me — Marta Chocilowska * the ideal boss in the corridor between my two bosses — Mark Gilbert * the ideal boss goes and gets us all fired — Michael Henry Lee * Taking a break My boss and I take a walk To the grand cafe — Kristjaan Panneman * ideal boss — he/she sees my work and my face — Maria Teresa Sisti * Cocked glasses Soiled tie and trousers Yup . . . the ideal boss — Katherine Stella * Head well who also knows how to listen Is it just an ideal? Dirige bene chi sa anche ascoltare E’ solo un ideale? — Angela Giordano * I have a dream . . . a charismatic and brave leader like Martin Luther King — Eufemia Griffo * ideal boss the smooth talker even if ticking off — Madhuri Pillai * company culture the ideal boss climbs through “snakes and ladders” — Adjei Agyei-Baah * an ideal boss — the mirages i chased all along — Arvinder Kaur * teabreak al fresco! the new boss adding sweetener — Brendon Kent * snipping the micro out of management a new bloom — Devin Harrison * the ideal is real: my two adorable little bosses — Elisa Allo * the perfect boss balancing sticks with carrots — Olivier Schopfer * mantra for a boss hear no evil . . . see no evil . . . speak no evil — Valentina Ranaldi-Adams * indulgent, kind, caring unsparing in her praise sadly, not my boss — Marietta McGregor * Captain Kirk who would not follow you boldly, for benefits — Ron Scully * Boss planner — important job appointments and birthdays — Nazarena Rampini * what a difference a diacritic makes the ideal boss — Lee Nash * not there tomorrow but you guys know exactly what should be done, right?! — Adrian Bouter * hot desking — the boss’s squash kit goes home with him — Martha Magenta * the ideal boss: admitting his errors . . . sometimes capo ideale: ammettendo gli errori … solo una volta — Lucia Cardillo * Lead well who also knows how to listen Is it just an ideal? Dirige bene chi sa anche ascoltare E’ solo un ideale? — Angela Giordano * at the end of the rainbow — the ideal boss — Debbi Antebi * tough but oh, so gentle his fresh carnation — Paul Geiger * branches shelter the sprouted acorns; we grow together — Timothy J. Dickey * night patrol a firefly flickers then moves on — Jennifer Hambrick * teacher’s bus my boss hands me just picked persimmons — Carmen Sterba * field error the boss’ tap on the shoulder — Willie Bongcaron *
Next Week’s Theme: Working Late
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 1 June 2015.