Office Haiku: Poems Inspired by the Daily Grind [NOOK Book]


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

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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, 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

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781429908405
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 4/1/2007
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 128
  • Sales rank: 1,427,534
  • File size: 265 KB

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

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Read an Excerpt

You Too Can Haiku

You too can haiku--
It's simply the syllables
All printed to fit.

First, five syllables
Line two--seven syllables
Five more, and you're done.

Why write haiku?

Haiku may be an ancient Japanese poetry form, but it's the perfect poetry form for a society conditioned to pay attention to nothing longer than a fifteen- or thirty-second commercial spot. With practice, you can compose a haiku in that amount of time.

Haiku also teaches mental discipline. With only seventeen syllables to express a thought or tell a joke, it trains a mind to cut a lot of fat out of its sentences. It keeps the mind nimble for selecting words and forming phrases; you not only have to convey your thoughts, but haiku forces you to pick and choose your words. The word you first select may have too many or too few syllables. The first word you think of that has the correct number of syllables may not have the precise shade of meaning you wish to convey.

I like to compose haiku for its own sake, but I also like to compose haiku when I'm pissed off at something. Instead of counting to ten, why not count to seventeen? Composing a haiku distracts you from your anger, allowing you to calm down.

Many annoying situations, when described in haiku form, sound like a Zen joke.

When used without care
The stapler pinches my hand.
I curse a blue streak.

Haiku can also be rather addictive, and although it's known among the Japanese that people become obsessed with haiku, one doesn't have to be Japanese in order for this to happen.

Haiku as verbal
Crack--I have a minimum
Five-a-day habit.

One of the great things about haiku is that it can be informal, particularly compared with the opinion most people have about "poetry." There is no room for bombast or lofty artistry if you're only using seventeen syllables.

Generally, the structure breaks down into five syllables on the first line, seven syllables on the second line, and five syllables on the last line. There are other formats you can use, but 5-7-5 is considered the standard.

Haiku does not have to rhyme. Rhyming is something of a hang-up with the English-speaking Western world. Not all Western poetry rhymes, either. If you want to include rhymes in haiku, feel free.

Some of my favorite haiku were written by Kobayashi Issa, a Japanese haiku master who lived from 1763 to 1827. Since he wrote in Japanese (and these translations are in English), the syllable structure in these haiku won't match the 5-7-5 pattern. These delightful translations are by Robert Hass.

New Year's Day--
Everything is in blossom!
I feel about average.

Don't worry, spiders,
I keep house

I'm going out,
Flies, so relax,
Make love.

Even with insects--
Some can sing,
Some can't.

Writing shit about new snow
For the rich
Is not art

If a great Japanese haiku master can write about flies making love, why not write about a stapler, or the Super Bowl half-time show?

Haiku can be surprisingly easy to write, and they pop up in the most interesting places. On Interstate 64, not far from my house, there's a sign that says:

When fog on mountain
Be alert, and drive slowly
Turn on lights

Put the word "your" before "lights," and change "lights" to "headlights," and it's a haiku.

When fog on mountain
Be alert, and drive slowly.
Turn on your headlights.

The first line even sounds like something that might have been translated from Japanese.

Haiku is a very accessible poetry form. Because of its brevity, it's almost disposable; yet the simple act of reducing an idea to this form can make it profound.

It's easy to compose haiku. Just start out with a regular thought and hammer it into the proper number of syllables. With a very small amount of practice, you can see your compositions improve. You may even eventually find yourself obsessed with haiku, using it as a refuge from your own personal tormentors in your place of employment.

My thoughts fall into
Seventeen-syllable chunks;
I am fortunate

Haiku foster the
Illusion that I'm doing
Something real at work

Copyright © 2006 by James Rogauskas
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