There was less poetry in our submissions for this topic, but decidedly more glee. Sickness — real, imagined or feigned — apparently brings out our punniest humor. Perhaps it’s the giddy sense of release of taking a day off from work, or even the thought of doing so. Or is it possible that a day spent within the confines of our own abodes, paying attention to the demands of our bodies, is so delicious that it more than compensates for the inconvenience of ailing? All our correspondents, it is good to report, are suffering from only the mildest of impingements, and these, in the main, are self-inflicted:
the morning after — if only there was a pill to treat regret [David Dayson]
and for most the remedy seems ready to hand:
Overbearing boss Drowning in pointless admin Retail therapy! [Nicholas Robinson]
As mentioned, a bout of indisposition does not seem to dull one’s propensity for punning:
man flu — into the duvet's nest [David Dayson]
And while there is the occasional moment of existential angst:
one day cannot cure this sickness [Evan Flaschen]
for the most part our maladies are of a more manageable nature:
Monday morning blues — waiting to be treated for password amnesia [David Dayson]
My third choice this week explores the calculated nature of illness:
following up on work’s master plan fake cough [Ernesto Santiago]
Surely after work well done it would be churlish for a boss to deny time away because of illness, ostensibly brought on by the demands of the workload. Our poet is sly and understands human nature. And now we know his name . . .
In second place we have a canny recognition of the will playing against the odds, whatever the cost:
extra authentic — that stomach bug briskly followed [Ernesto Santiago]
Though not quite the stuff of epics, the poet decided the risk was worth the taking, and now that the worst case scenario has ensued, at least gets a poem out of the bargain. There have been worse deals struck in the quest for adventure.
Our top winner this week takes the prize primarily for bravado:
Hole in one On a sick day Isn’t it ironic? [Samuel Sibony]
The understated self-awareness of the last line feels the perfect tenor after the casual admission of playing hooky of the opening pair. This persona knows no shame, and the poem’s tone neatly captures it, while managing to brag at his skill and manifest his confidence in the security he feels in his position, all while charming us. We all know a person (or many) like this, and probably envy him. Nicely played!
I admit these are all a long ways from Shiki’s
gallons of phlegm even the gourd water couldn’t clear it up
but then again he was on his deathbed with tuberculosis (gourd water was the specific for treating respiratory ailments at the time in Japan — be grateful for modern medicine), so it is understandable if he had a grimmer outlook. In any case, a small illness can make us grateful for our usual well-being, and that is well worth celebrating. Take care!
. . . methodically lowers the boss' blood pressure a little white lie — Ernesto P. Santiago * sick day preparing CV for morrow’s interview — S. Radhamani * on the sofa with Kleenex and tea unexpected leisure — Peggy Bilbro * sick days ski trip back to work with a broken leg — Marilyn Walker * half wakefulness — mother's moist palm on my forehead — Arvinder Kaur * sick note — the fresh cleaned windows of my neighbour — Eva Limbach * a little flu — brainstorming program avoided – Anna Maria Domburg-Sancristoforo * at the golf course the boss too . . . sick day — Madhuri Pillai * blue Monday . . . several practice coughs before she calls in — Michael H. Lester * appointment day the doctor off sick — Rachel Sutcliffe * opening Skype from home I follow the work — a boiling tea and spray — Angela Giordano * mercury rising the boss calls again about another crisis — Gail Oare * rain on the window pane — feeling guilty for no reason — Mark Gilbert * headache day her Melbourne Cup hat on the TV news — Jan Dobb * homebound . . . despite the migraine a spring in my step — Samantha Sirimanne Hyde * sick day I answer emails in my pajamas — Amy Losak * I'm a fugitive under covers sick day — Michael Stinson * this time it is for real . . . downed with flu — Willie Bongcaron * rapid current flow engulfs all in passages channels to outlet — Katherine Stella * after party night — only the cleaning crew gets no sick day — Marta Chocilowska * urgently; called in . . . on the manager’s good side a memory loss — Ernesto P. Santiago * calling in sick my doctor tells me I need to retire — Elizabeth Moura * perfect attendance his first year on the job — Pat Davis * long day and night — a photo of the oysters in my phone — Kerstin Park * chicken pox . . . my colleagues avoid even my phone calls — Ana Drobot * Calling Sunday for a sick day Monday the season opener Sox tickets in hand — Stephan Massi * sick day . . . i make a rainbow with my pills — Hifsa Ashraf * sick leave — finally I complete my haiku collection — Tomislav Maretic * long illness watching fall the first autumn leaves — Eufemia Griffo * thermometer shards the mercury makes itself whole again — Anthony Rabang * back-to-back Oprah tell me, is a sick day worth it? — Marietta McGregor * found at a rummage sale the one who called in sick — Chad Lee Robinson * paid sick days count against paternity congratulations — Ron Scully * Sick Day for all the employees the boss’s funeral — Cezar Ciobika * a sudden need to catch up with me mental health day — Devin Harrison * sick day a deadline raptor splitting my being — Alegria Imperial * sick day — ignoring the alarm clock to remain asleep in malattia — ignorando la sveglia restare a letto — Lucia Cardillo * high fever . . . even this haiku smells of ginger — Elisa Allo * sick day the consoling song of the blackbird — Eleonore Nickolay * lovesick I take days off to avoid the new boss — Celestine Nudanu * crashing waves — muffling the speaker on my sick day call — Maureen Gorman * sick day — I miss the THF deadline of workplace haiku — Angelee Deodhar *
Next Week’s Theme: Looking Out the Office Window
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 19 October 2015.