It would appear many of our respondents slept through this one, and who could blame them? Dawn in the office somehow doesn’t have the same ring to it as dawn on the beach, or dawn over Kilimanjaro. Still, it’s not entirely without its own rewards, as those who were awake to experience them reveal.
Dawn is often a time when we take stock of our situation, often with brutal honesty:
Another dawn at the desk Wasting my youth modeling accounts for The Man [Samuel Sibony]
And there are times when that honesty surprises even ourselves:
Christmas party gone awry Lying at dawn on the floor with . . . Rob from accounts? [Samuel Sibony]
Once we’ve taken whatever steps are necessary to get us acclimatized (read: coffee), we might be able to appreciate dawn’s resplendent beauty:
pixelated dawn — sunrise trembles through falling leaves [David Dayson]
And take stock of the subtle effects that later in the day we’ll be too focused on our tasks to notice:
dawn’s skyscrapers touch their long shadows — then draw apart [David Dayson]
And once the coffee has fully kicked in, we might even appreciate those who have come to this dawn the hard way:
at their busiest — dawn’s silent workers close a transatlantic deal [David Dayson]
But of course nothing begins without something ending. My third choice this week is full of rue:
ended at dawn the excel spreadsheet of extra overtime [Ernesto Santiago]
Using dawn to mark the end, rather than the beginning, of the situation is certainly not novel, but is nicely turned here. It’s bad enough to be up at this hour, but to be earning only the usual wage seems harsh.
My top two prizes both note the subtle shifts in light we find in the early hours. In second place is this “aesthetically pleasing” poem:
the fluorescent light aesthetically pleasing when dawn is still dark [Ernesto Santiago]
Fluorescent is rarely anyone’s favorite, and especially when compared to natural light, not to say, dawn light. But there is a time, before the sun is up yet the sky is lightening, when the soft shadows and cool tones of fluorescent can be especially easy on the eye. Especially if one has been up all night . . .
My top prize offers a similar realization, but in an altogether different register:
dawn breaks the cheap hue of desk light [Ernesto Santiago]
The harsher tone works especially well in this instance. The poet sketches the situation with minimal words, but we can imagine it clearly: the persona of the poem is working at his desk, and has likely been doing so through the night. The attention is broken, not by the unnatural light of the desk lamp, to which he has become accustomed, but by the effulgent rays of the sun. How tawdry, in contrast, do these artificial beams seem? And, by extension, we call into question the merits of an enterprise that might keep us up through the night by dint of such illumination. The poet’s choice of casting this in one line is also felicitous: the two actions of the verb “break” (dawn “breaks”, but it also “breaks the cheap hue”) are in this way overlaid, and the ambiguity this presents contributes to the somewhat rattled awareness of the persona. A deft technical touch to set off a keenly observed psychological as well as natural moment.
With luck, you’ll never be asked to write about “dawn in the office” again, and so your efforts at research can cease. Sweet dreams!
all night stand . . . ink flavoured sunrise in my study — Maria Laura Valente * early dawn — in the office a set of push-ups — Ernesto P. Santiago * in between naps brewed black coffee waiting for the sun — Willie Bongcaron * Acero rosso — il ronzio dei pcs dai cubicals Red maple — PCs buzzing from the cubicles — Monica Federico * nonstop work — dawn splinters the skylight — Roberta Beary * dawn at the office waking up on last night's paperwork — Rachel Sutcliffe * After the nightshift The sky colors in the east Getting some sleep — Kristjaan Panneman * dawn in the office another mosquito in my cup of coffee — Billy Antonio * pink dawn – in front of the visa office a line wakes up — Marta Chocilowska * whistleblowing early in the office a new employee — Hifsa Ashraf * already burdened — yesterday's to-do list creeps into dawn — Amy Losak * A two-eyed spider s p i n s intense web of lies across new dawn and glass. — Linda Wolff * office affair . . . she works the late night shift he gets in at the crack — Michael H. Lester * inhaling . . . a whiff of dawn new management — Celestine Nudanu * first to arrive flicks on the fluorescents dawn in the office — Jan Dobb * in morning silence last night’s coffee on the boss’s desk — Carol Jones * dawn attendance . . . the janitor moves freely from room to room — Mohammad Azim Khan * cabin fever sunrise fills the space station portal — Michael Henry Lee * sun never sets on their endless day ICU staff — Ashoka Weerakkody * rising again my reflection on the coffee carafe 7 am in the office — Gail Oare * meetings meetings meetings about meetings noticing the dawn — Mark Gilbert * short notice — audit and inspection — night-long stay takes us to dawn — S. Radhamani * dawn in the office just enough candlepower . . . to find the light switch — Katherine Stella * dawn in office . . . looking a swallow migrate away — Eufemia Griffo * to her ‘goodnight’ I bid ‘good morning’ she from another time zone — Madhuri Pillai * Coffee break at dawn — Refreshing the screen Refreshing me — Erin Castaldi * a backlog of work — they remained at the office from dawn till dusk — Rosa Maria di Salvatore * the dawn moon — exchanging the key at call center gate — Srinivasa Rao Sambangi * still in the office — the colors of dawn on my report — Angela Giordano * just enough to lift my dark weight dawn — Alegria Imperial * cleaners leave the office dawn — Olivier Schopfer * weakening dawn the tulip on the windowsill still blooming — Matthew Markworth * Silent office — the shadow of a fan on the letter of dismissal — Julia Guzmán * sleepless in bed the silhouettes of post-it notes on the desk — Kerstin Park * empty office — looking at pink clouds the first coffee — Elisa Allo * in the flick of a switch the disappearance of dawn — Pat Davis * frosty meeting a coffee machine sets the agenda — Martha Magenta * winter dawn behind the office lights the sun also rises — Debbi Antebi * empty carpark I follow last night’s snow prints back to the office — Lew Watts * dawn the tractor’s seat warms up to me — Chad Lee Robinson * exciting perfume — Dawn, the new coworker moves through the office — Adrian Bouter * before dawn a ghost library reveals itself — Carmen Sterba * dawn break — stirring the first sun rays in jasmine tea — Arvinder Kaur * break of dawn — my first cup of coffee at the office — Ana Drobot * overlooked Dawn in the office worker bees — Christine Eales * dawn break — I wash my night image for an early arrival — Pravat Kumar Padhy * dawn at the office the window open just a crack — Michael Stinson * first light in the east — flour and fresh bread in his hands rischiara ad est — farina e pane fresco tra le mani — Lucia Cardillo * preparing party food at dawn in the office — cleaners and me — Tomislav Maretic * office cleaner hoovering pennies at dawn night bus — Mike Gallagher * foggy dawn facing another memory leak — Cezar Ciobika * she warned him don’t come if home it’s late waking at his desk — Karen Harvey * No dawn no sun Just a crow Rattling daybreak — Stephan Massi * cold dawn on the job the tea pot whistle wakes a turtle dove — Lucia Fontana * dawn — my divorced boss sleeping in the bosom of his job — Adjei Agyei-Baah *
Next Week’s Theme: Foreign Takeover
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 9 November 2015.