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:
and for some, license:illicit pleasure — an extra two hours in bed working from home [David Dayson]
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.
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!
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 8 September 2015.