Change is good. It recharges the battery, refocuses our vision, gets us out of the old familiar. That’s especially welcome at this time of year, after the excitement of the holidays wanes and we return to our old routines. A cocktail of change — comprised, as it often is, of a shot of fear, another of uncertainty, blended with adrenaline and served neat — can be just the picker-upper we need to get through what’s left of the winter.
But a new boss — well, she’s a pitiable object, ripe for lampooning:
a new boss with charismatic smile — botoxed for a while [David Dayson]
However much we might need her, fear her, possibly even like her, she is an adversary who bears watching:
replacement director a new footfall to be learned [Marion Clarke]
It is worth our while to come to know the enemy:
employees orientate to the new boss — reading Sun Tzu [David Dayson]
and to know that we are not the only ones confronting change:
rites of passage — a new boss sacrifices the old board [David Dayson]
Still, this too is a passing fancy, and it’s only a matter of time
new boss such excitement until noon [Marion Clarke]
before we return to the comfortable rut. So it’s not so much the newness we celebrate with the new boss as the time it takes to break him in to the old ways. My third choice this week knows this from the outset:
the new boss invites us on a journey — in a hot air balloon [David Dayson]
The poet invites us on a journey as well, and the first two lines open to endless possibility, bounded only by imagination. The third line is a wonderfully apt prick in the metaphorical balloon — we’ve been here before.
Second choice goes to this rendering of a completely modern malady:
adapting well to the new manager a cable bug [Ernesto Santiago]
The ambiguity of this poem — is it the persona of the poem who is adapting well, or the cable bug? — seizes our attention, and its lack of resolution makes it hard to forget. This is not a strategy that works all the time — in fact, the vast majority of such poems fail for just such uncertainty — but here, given the ambiguity of just what kind of bug a “cable bug” is, I think it strikes just the right note. And given the additional frisson that a cable bug, just as an office manager, is an entity wholly created by the workplace environment, one morphs neatly into the other, both minor nuisances that inflict a bit of surprise and pain but are for the most part harmless. This is the first time I’ve encountered “cable bug” in a haiku, so it also has the added value of novelty.
My top selection is not a novelty, but rather an image that seems so familiar that we feel perhaps we could or should have written it:
swinging round in his old chair new boss [Marion Clarke]
I chose it because of the perfection of its rendering — nothing wasted, nothing out of scale. There is fine energy in the poem — “swinging round” brings in action, and is so suggestive of characteristic gesture that we already feel we know this person. “his old chair” breaks two ways — the old boss’s chair (hence, the old regime), and the new occupant of the old chair (hence, the new). And the fine trochee of the third line — terse, to the point, just the opposite of the playful sweep of the gesture. Altogether, it is reminiscent of The Who and our personal experiences of just such moments. We know exactly where we are, and we know everything we need to know about just what sort of change has taken place. Nicely done.
All right, enough lolligagging with your haiku, get back to work!
boyz 2 men suddenly silent the new boss introduces herself — Roberta Beary * new boss — funny jokes fake laughter — Doris Pascolo * three years since the takeover by the Irish powerhouse yet to glimpse a leprechaun — Mark Gilbert * due date the imminent arrival of a new boss — Rachel Sutcliffe * it’s more than likely heads will roll arrival of the new boss — Celestine Nudanu * ending up with a new boss the old boss — Ernesto P. Santiago * the new boss . . . some re-arrangements in the office — Willie Bongcaron * all new artwork in the corner office . . . pink slips for lunch — Michael H. Lester * the new boss fixing everything that wasn’t broken — Michael Henry Lee * first CEO meeting everyone’s year-long experience at a glance — Stefano Riondato * first day on the job the first blush of a new blemish — Amy Losak * meet and greet the new boss in jeans with creases — Pat Davis * bruised ego the new boss half my age — Olivier Schopfer * the new boss — a scent of perfume in all rooms il nuovo capo — una scia di profumo in tutte le stanze — Angela Giordano * his first day talk incentive a month’s paid leave best performer — S. Radhamani * the new boss arrives to straighten the plant out fur flyin’ — Marilyn Appl Walker * the new boss’s smile a broken front tooth ceases mine — Marta Chocilowska * the new boss — with a smile and a gaze I’ll seduce him — Rosa Maria Di Salvatore * boss new just as old the goals — Adrian Bouter * new boss . . . the voice precedes his presence — Madhuri Pillai * our desks now face east — new boss — Arvinder Kaur * central expansion . . . the new boss loosens his belt — Martha Magenta * high tech company no one bothers about the new boss — Hifsa Ashraf * position of boss — ONE advances from the hopefuls — Valentina Ranaldi-Adams * new boss the water cooler’s bubble burp — Agnes Eva Savich * cicada chorus in the shadow of the new boss a sudden hush — Karen Conrads Wibell * her oversized suit our assistant principal’s sudden promotion — Frank J. Tassone * here he comes please welcome new CEO good old Chairman — Ashoka Weerakkody * welcome party baking two jam tarts for let me notice — Elisa Allo * the new boss prepares himself reading Machiavelli — Tomislav Maretic * time for a change . . . same old lines from the new boss — Angelo Ancheta * cake at lunch with the new manager separate checks — Gail Oare * change no one smiles in the corridor — Christine Eales * breky with the new boss buttered croissants edge out plain bagels — Alegria Imperial * a clean sweep the old boss’s sofa disappearing — Mike Gallagher * new boss — calling me in the morning forgotten alarm on my phone — Ana Drobot * Googling the new boss’s name one step ahead — Karen Harvey * distant thunder the profile pic of my new boss — Deborah P Kolodji * and finally, though not really a haiku, the new boss’ mantra: we are the boss we win the toss and suffer no loss — Adjei Agyei-Baah *
Next Week’s Theme: The Office Ghoul
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 26 January 2016.