Remember paper? Once upon a time entire storerooms (now called “offices”) were dedicated to processed rag and wood residue, and the various implements used to make impressions upon it. Even today there are remnants of such things, if your place of employ still has a printer or copier or fax machine about.
This week’s topic is a trip down memory lane for most of us, and that’s how most of you viewed it, often with a good deal of amusement. Some of you had fond memories of such places:
a fleeting tryst — moves the world beneath a stationery cupboard [David Dayson]
though more likely:
scent of honey in a stationery cupboard — where nothing happened [David Dayson]
Doth he protest too much? At least he retains a sense of scale, unlike this mock epic, with apologies to Blake:
stationery cupboard — what immortal hand or eye framed your symmetry [David Dayson]
Somehow the movement from “tyger” to “stationery cupboard” seems a diminution in power.
My three prize winners this week all hold nostalgia in common, and should be regarded as equal firsts. The first of these treats the space as an anachronism:
arcane skills — reporter’s note books pencils and rubbers [David Dayson]
And in fact this is not much different than visiting the cuneiform rooms in the British Museum. The chief virtue of the poem, then, is how it telescopes time for us.
Next, we have a bit of irony:
trade secrets in the file cabinet dusty cobwebs [Ernesto Santiago]
What was once the most important thing in the world is now visited only by spiders. Technically, the poem employs a hinged second line that unites the first and third lines all the more closely.
And finally, a personal accounting:
one last peek — nothing but paperclips and a hint of aftershave [Marion Clarke]
The first line indicates an ending of some kind — perhaps the office is closing, perhaps the poet is leaving his position. The second line makes it apparent that not much of value is being left behind. The third line, however, suggests something more. Might it have been a tryst? Or simply some sign of life where now there is none? The small bit of intrigue that is conjured here doesn’t amount to much, however, since the clause is still modifying “nothing.” This is a fair amount of emptiness for three lines to convey.
And so I whoosh these comments back to you via electrons. Perhaps some day we will be nostalgic for this mode of communication, once we are all wet-wired and telepathy is the norm. But will all our trysts then be virtual?
a shriveled rose tucked in the note book keepsake from my boss — Celestine Nudanu * half-formed words the bane of proving: “I’m not a robot” – Sonam Chhoki * law firm letterhead names of the living outnumbered — Roberta Beary * meditating on the stationery cupboard an office rat — Ernesto P. Santiago * the clerk’s cupboard — is it going to be at the feng shui’s north? — Willie Bongcaron * feminist leaflets — in the stationery cupboard the mistress copy — Martha Magenta * day of dismissal among the stationery top leader award — Marta Chocilowska * half-formed words the bane of proving: “I’m not a robot” — Sonam Chhoki * stealing from the company I take one pack of Post-its® of every color — Mark Gilbert * a pair of mittens under the pending files — mother’s workplace — Arviner Kaur * cupboard door ajar rat pops out with powdered papers — S. Radhamani * supply room . . . he said she said — Michael Henry Lee * new supply closet . . . what stationery now includes — Pat Davis * easily accessible the stationery cupboard out of stock — Hifsa Ashraf * supply room — dimly-lit kisses of an office affair — Valentina Ranaldi-Adams * special pencils to clear errors and an amulet — Angela Giordano * budget cuts . . . in the stationery cupboard only red pens — Samantha Sirimanne Hyde * Drawn Buddha the tip of an eraser totally black — Julia Guzmán * stacked stationery cupboard stuck on the door the road map — Madhuri Pillai * turning five again that back-to-school scent of the stationery cupboard — Marietta McGregor * first day of school the stationery cupboard’s scent of new beginnings — Karen Wibell * ream of copy paper multipurpose snowflakes, swan — Ron Scully * in the stationery closet the stacked receptionist — Chad Lee Robinson * stock on the shelves reminding of tasks — Adrian Bouter * adults play hide-and-seek in the big cupboard — Christine Eales * finding pens in the stationery closet losing buttons — Erin Castaldi * Hallowe’en looking for a notebook with pumpkins — Elisa Allo * bottle of red wine found among typing ribbons tasted better — Ashoka Weerakkody * stationery cupboard I used to know how to write in cursive — Olivier Schopfer * open cupboard a paper crane lost between pencils and pens — Eufemia Griffo * stationery cupboard — remembering which drawer I hid my haiku in — Tomislav Maretic * Princess K * paper moon another inventory of the supply room by the office couple — Gail Oare * old cupboard — yellowed by time unused registers vecchio armadio — ingialliti dal tempo vecchi stampati — Lucia Cardillo * office tension one of us the stationery thief — Lee Nash * in, the, stationery, cupboard, a, folded, paper, crane — Billy Antonio * inemuri opening my stationery cupboard doors I meet him again — Lucia Fontana * Sears catalog In the stationary cupboard crescent moon in the door — Paul Geiger * paying it forward a few odds and ends you might sometimes need at home — Devin Harrison * l e l t – a - n j y s o b s o t e n p s e a lime — Deborah P Kolodji * among stationery a resignation draft sadder than a love note — Alegria Imperial * computer mice in the stationery cupboard my chair squeaks — Karen Harvey * field mouse new letterhead with a watermark — Jeff Hoagland * stationery cupboard — I daydream about origami cranes — Ana Drobot * in the stationery cabinet scent as well classified on shelves — Adjei Agyei-Baah * scribbling with each pen so many duds this deluge rain — Tricia Knoll * stationery cupboard all the pens we smuggle home — Rachel Sutcliffe *
Next Week’s Theme: The New Boss
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 30 November 2015.