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Office Haiku: Poems Inspired by the Daily Grind
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Office Haiku: Poems Inspired by the Daily Grind

by James Rogauskas
 

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Poems! About your office!

We work hard at our jobs, and in return we are frequently plagued by bad coffee, strange smells, paper cuts, other people, and, at least once a week, Mondays. So what better way to tackle the absurdities of the modern workplace—to get a little peace!—than with Zen poetry? In the first poetry collection to do just that,

Overview

Poems! About your office!

We work hard at our jobs, and in return we are frequently plagued by bad coffee, strange smells, paper cuts, other people, and, at least once a week, Mondays. So what better way to tackle the absurdities of the modern workplace—to get a little peace!—than with Zen poetry? In the first poetry collection to do just that, Office Haiku contains witty haiku divided into chapters including "Monday Mornings Suck," "Paper Cuts, Office Equipment, and Other Maladies," "Existential Malaise," "Departmental Meetings," and, of course, "Anywhere But Here."

Informed by a lifetime of work, James Rogauskas's haiku speak for themselves (and everyone else):

Sitting at my desk

As proudly as any serf

On his scrap of dirt.

"This has to go out"?

And I was waiting for desk

Fairies to type it.

I sit wondering;

Can someone die of boredom?

Only time will tell.

If I could read minds,

I would certainly have a

Better job than this.

"I thought I knew all the reasons to hate cubicle life, but James Rogauskas have given me a pork barrel full of laughs to ease my deary Monday mornings. This book should be required reading for all corporate managers!"—Mary K Witte, author of Redneck Haiku: Double-Wide Edition

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780312352486
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
05/30/2006
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
128
Product dimensions:
4.54(w) x 5.95(h) x 0.44(d)

Read an Excerpt

Office Haiku


By James Rogauskas

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2006 James Rogauskas
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-312-35248-6



CHAPTER 1

    Monday Mornings Suck


    Barbaric, really —
    Normally I would not be
    Awake at this hour.

    Definite whiff of
    Pot smoke as I walk to work.
    Are we in high school?

    Had I known today
    Would be this miserable
    I would not have come.

    Monday mornings — my
    Sleepiness is at odds with
    Pique at being here.

    Sitting at my desk
    As proudly as any serf
    On his scrap of dirt.

    I didn't shave for
    Thirty-five K a year; I
    Won't be shaving now.

    Man, when I was small,
    I always thought being an
    Adult would be cool.

    Jimi Hendrix say,
    "'Scuse me, while I vent my spleen!"
    Were he office drone.


    Kohi (Coffee)


    Dark, bitter, tarlike
    You'd think it would kill someone
    To start a fresh pot.

    Jitters, coffee breath,
    And frequent urination.
    What more could I want?

    Giving up coffee —
    Irritability with
    Some blinding headaches.

    At my first "real" job
    Cream was never put away.
    Black with sugar, please.

    Late afternoon cup —
    The coffee is cold and stale.
    Drink it anyway.


    no Sanctuary


    Single occupant
    Bathroom is locked. Why knock? Door
    Didn't lock itself.

    Why don't you remind
    Me to page you the next time
    You're using the can.


    Clock Watching


    Ten-thirty seems so
    Dreadfully early — half an
    Hour later, not so.

    In my cubicle
    I sit; envying the dead
    Two hours left to go.

    The longest hour of
    The week; is it Monday's first
    Or Friday's last hour?

    If it has to be
    Friday, why couldn't it at
    Least be five o'clock?


    Existential Malaise


    If I could read minds,
    I would certainly have a
    Better job than this.

    Wet blanket e-mail
    Casts a pall over the rest
    Of my afternoon.

    Life is a burden;
    This job but icing on my
    Existential cake.

    Dissatisfaction
    Gnaws like a cancer in my
    Troubled little mind.

    My labors complete,
    And I am left with the thought:
    What was I thinking?


    Work Flow

    Morning assignment.
    Did you plan to wait 'til lunch
    Before you told me?

    You know — nobody's
    Supposed to be here 'til nine...
    Why is there work here?

    While away sending
    Your FAX, you continue to
    Issue work for me.

    Transcribed verbatim
    As dictated. Yet, they still
    Call it a "typo."

    My whole life spent in
    Preparation for this task —
    What were you saying?

    Priority job?
    As were the last six that were
    Supposed to be done.

    If you want it fast
    Maybe you should make sure that
    Your part is done right.

    Thank you for your rude
    Interruption; you've destroyed
    A quarter hour's work.

    How to do nothing
    Without looking like you are
    Just doing nothing.

    Sitting at my desk
    Surfing surreptitiously.
    Don't want to get caught.

    Passive aggressive?
    Maybe — but you're not getting
    It any sooner.

    I don't mind sharing
    Work assignments — but you could
    At least tell me first.

    I can't type these if
    You're going to hoard them and
    Give me six at once.

    Toll-free support line —
    "Hold" music less annoying
    On company time.

    If it's so freaking
    Important now, why'd you lose
    It in the first place?

    Would you do this — in
    A cube, for some rube? Would you,
    Could you, Sam I am?

    Giving dictation
    You could try spitting out the
    Marbles from your mouth.


    Lunch and Other Food

    As slow as you all
    Are, I could be back from lunch
    By the time you leave.

    People stultified
    By the cafeteria
    Menu — idiots.

    Why read the damn sign?
    In a dozen steps you'll see
    What they have for lunch.

    Overcooked, salty,
    Boiled limp — lunch prepares you for
    The rest of your day.

    Cafeteria
    Cabbage — always like it more
    Than I think I should.

    Pepper steak! Thou vile,
    Traitorous dog — will I e'er
    Be rid of thy burn?

    Cafeteria
    Pepper steak might be made from
    Vile, traitorous dogs.

    Potato crunch fish
    Three words one doesn't expect
    To describe one thing.

    Taco day in the
    Cafeteria — always
    Yields the longest wait.

    Old people shuffling
    Precariously with food
    Trays; rolling roadblocks.

    A hush descends like
    A spreading wave; someone has
    Microwaved popcorn.

    A bundt cake sitting
    On a desk in an empty
    Office — so tempting.


    Chewing Gum


    Bored with chewing gum —
    Really, how many kinds of
    Mint flavor are there?

    I wonder: what puts
    The chevron pattern on a
    Stick of gum, and why?


    Office Politics/ Coworkers Are Hell


    Obstacles to your
    Career — more staying power
    Than Rasputin had.

    Would Stalin have put
    Up with this? No — he'd wipe out
    Your entire village.

    Office politics —
    Being male, much easier
    To feign ignorance.

    The headline will read:
    "Supervisor beaten to
    Death with coffee mug."

    I asked a simple
    Question — I don't really want
    Your whole life story.

    Were you communing
    With another dimension
    While I explained it?

    Why is it we're not
    Still in trees flinging feces
    At one another?

    Office doublespeak
    Gushes forth, an untamed spring.
    Was that "yes" or "no"?

    I did what you asked.
    Of what you meant to ask for,
    How should I know that?

    The office snitch knows
    More about your personal
    e-mail use than you.

    "This has to go out?"
    And I was waiting for desk
    Fairies to type it.

    More I learn about
    Coworkers, I find, the less
    We have in common.

    Supervisor comes
    Around, vaguely muttering.
    And leaves the same way.

    I'm surrounded by
    Freaking idiots and they're
    Slowly closing in.

    If you'd read my note
    You would know the answers to
    These stupid questions.

    Hovering over
    Me like a vulture; get the
    Hell out of my cube!

    All the bile in the
    World, wasted on these soulless
    Smiling backstabbers

    At least in prison
    You get to shank people who
    Really annoy you.


    Afternoon Boredom


    I sit wondering;
    Can someone die of boredom?
    Only time will tell.

    Windowless office.
    Some days it would even be
    Nice to see the rain.

    Pried my thumbnail off
    With the staple remover
    Just to stay awake.


    Departmental Meetings


    Required attendance.
    It was so much like high school —
    Wanted to cut class.

    Important meeting
    My ass — you're just going to
    Bore us for two hours.

    Just like high school — sit
    In the back of the room in
    Case you fall asleep.


    Paper Cuts, Office Equipment, and Other Maladies


    The broken stapler —
    Bear this soldier away from
    The field of battle.

    My pen fails to write;
    Is the nib worn out, or is
    It reluctant ink?

    Chair adjusts six ways;
    Who let Quasimodo sit
    In my freaking chair?

    Paper cuts might not
    Always be from paper, but
    They hurt just the same.

    Real reason we're not
    Chained to desks; health plan won't pay
    For own limbs gnawed off.

    No personal desks.
    I have been here two years and
    Still feel like a temp.

    Knowledgeable staff
    Has done this task for years — still,
    Toner everywhere.

    Rebooting desktop —
    The more often it happens,
    The longer it takes.


    Anywhere but Here


    Distracted by thought;
    Where would I be, doing what?
    If I wasn't here?

    Anywhere but here;
    I hear that Memphis is nice
    At this time of year.

    Would I prefer to
    Be here, or have bamboo shoots
    Thrust under my nails?

    In Tokyo, it's
    Already Friday night; god,
    I wish I were there.

    Would I rather be
    Here, or running with the bulls
    In Pamplona, Spain?


    Holidays and Such


    Fire alarm is called.
    Unfortunately, the chance
    Of fire is remote.

    Back from vacation
    So soon? We missed your take-charge
    Style of management.

    Company Christmas
    Parties — passive aggression
    Taken to new heights.

    Wotan, Thor, Freya —
    I think I like Saturn's day
    The best of them all.

    Today is payday —
    For one brief, shining moment
    It all seems worthwhile.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Office Haiku by James Rogauskas. Copyright © 2006 James Rogauskas. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

James Rogauskas has worked since he was fourteen in jobs ranging from demolition to sewer cleaning to medical publishing. Although the author has no traditional credentials, his poems suggest that other prisoners of the cube farm too can break free. Visit his Web site at officehaiku.com.

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