Relax! Even the most intense of us needs to ease up on that grip once in a while. If we don’t, we lose our abilities to focus, and our accuracy and productivity suffers. We need a break once in a while from the tensions of the task, and, frankly, from ourselves.
Thank the gods, then, or AFGD, for the office window. Besides being structurally sound, thermodynamically efficient, and architecturally attractive, windows also release us from our own focus and release us out into the world. That glance out the window is sorbet to our minds, refreshing us, relaxing us, and, perhaps most importantly, reminding us that there is a world out there that cares little about our current crises. So take a deep breath and look outside on the rest of the world, mindful that they are probably looking out their windows right now and wishing they were you.
Our submitters were about equally divided on how they viewed the window: from inside or out. For many, the special array of massed windows reflecting a composite scene was compelling:
each window captures an Autumn sunset — one frame at a time [David Dayson]
Autumn muted from behind a window — dry leaves rustle [David Dayson]
but one poet was able to conjure both views:
Tied to the office. Going up or down? I’m like The window cleaner. [Jeremy Ison]
And of course you don’t always get what you want:
Finally promoted To a window seat, facing A brick wall [Samuel Sibony]
But if you try sometime you find what you need:
migrating geese fly over my office window — gilded by sunset [David Dayson]
myriad views — all from the same office all different [David Dayson]
A burning desire to jump In the raging forgiving river But the window is locked [Samuel Sibony]
My third place selection this week uses the omniscient viewpoint of the office window to contrast the behaviors of two different species:
ways of a wren sorting out the day — the late employees [Alan Summers]
It would be anthropomorphizing to make too much of this likeness, but the poet doesn’t do that. He merely points to the two groups and let’s the reader decide how far to push the comparison. But it’s sufficiently close to make us look a second time, as a good poem will do.
A similar strategy is employed in my second place winner, aided this time by interior lighting:
caged by light — late night office workers flutter like moths [David Dayson]
The delicacy of the images, and the slow motion effect imparted by seeing things at a distance, make this a compelling poem. The light functions as the stimulant for both creatures, human and insect, and their movements come to seem equally fragile, equally compulsive.
My top prize this week goes to a completely different sort of poem:
on one leg a slender crane in equipoise — p i r o u e t t e s [David Dayson]
We have not seen much in the way of organic form in this column, but this is an excellent example. Seen in silence from behind the office window, presumably on high, the mechanical object takes on some of the outer aspects of its feathered namesake. Not merely pun nor word painting, the structure of the poem physically demonstrates not only the arrangement of the scene, but intimates its poise and grace as well. What a welcome relief from the stress and tedium of the office routine, expertly captured in words and form.
Happy daydreams! and don’t let the boss catch you.
stuck at the office — the acrobatic antics of a pigeon — Amy Losak * class test — outside, a plastic bag is dancing in the wind — Maria Laura Valente * occasionally glancing at an open window the touch typist — Ernesto P. Santiago * windowpane the boss waves away my daydreams — Elizabeth Moura * a glass skyscraper smiling from the outside the window cleaner — Marta Chocilowska * drift of cherry blossom the meeting runs over — Mark Gilbert * two-man cubicle . . . addicts in the alley sharing a needle — Michael H. Lester * amidst rolling hills standing hind quarters mighty black stallion — Katherine Stella * a blooming rose through a film darkly office romance — Celestine Nudanu * looking through them for a living window cleaner — Rachel Sutcliffe * busker outside my office window is he happier? — Pat Davis * little boxes an escaped balloon passes my tenth floor window — Jan Dobb * returning from the boss i let the window open — Srinivasa Rao Sambangi * basement office — how blue the sky in a painted window — Arvinder Kaur * our office window covered in plywood after the storm — Michael Henry Lee * almost five looking out the office window — Willie Bongcaron * on the bench a couple of lovers — I am anxious about nostalgia — Angela Giordano * no work coming in the dog & i view the world beyond the window — Roberta Beary * motivational meeting I follow the rising arc of starlings — Peggy Bilbro * still hovering . . . day moon looking in — Madhuri Pillai * spreadsheets slices of leaves through the blinds — Agnes Eva Savich * looking out the office window faces petals on a wet black bough — Angelee Deodhar * rain on the window no longer transparent the flight of a dove — Stefano Riondato * tense confrontation — a giant seagull stares back at me — Martha Magenta * ongoing rain it all comes down to this moment — Devin Harrison * prison window the softness of the wings of a butterfly — Pravat Kumar Padhy * unopened lunch box from the office window a view of a ration shop queue — S. Radhamani * strategic window . . . the bald head boss eyeing the entryway — Mohammad Azim Khan * the view from my office window office windows — Olivier Schopfer * reflecting pool through the office window another office window — Jennifer Hambrick * a crash scene from the office window colouring rain — Brendon Kent * basement window a live show of scissor legs — Alegria Imperial * Across the lot Same car Different mates — Erin Castaldi * November trees migrating birds stole this heart — Adrian Bouter * out of the office window the rust in the green — autumn day dalla finestra ruggine negli alberi — giorno d’autunno — Lucia Cardillo * office windows the melancholic notes of a street musician — Eufemia Griffo * looking out the office window clouds pass by — Michael Stinson * boss’s eyrie over his shoulder the view I’ll never have — Marietta McGregor * rest my eyes . . . beyond the lake snowy Alps — Elisa Allo * office view — vertigo looking down Alain Robert going up — Lee Nash * one white cloud from the seventeenth floor swallows gliding — Mike Gallagher * declaration of war! — children still playing in the courtyards — Tomislav Maretic * lunch break at work through the window smell of fresh cut grass — Cezar Ciobika * stained window a faded reflection of a spreadsheet — Frank J. Tassone * handed a pink slip outside blossoms fluttering down — Lori Zajkowski * the Bronte sisters and I saw over-trimmed Heather, and stomped off — Carmen Sterba * leaves falling turning away to gather notes from my desk — Karen Harvey * through the window yellow brick wall ants are busy — Christine Eales * clouds — the gray area between real and fake news — Anthony Rabang * out the office window imagining the expletives as a car splashes him — Sonam Chhoki * a view from office window a rising smoke from the kebab seller — Adjei Agyei-Baah *
Next Week’s Theme: Dawn in the Office
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 2 November 2015.