This week two poems won our workplace haiku/senryu contest, whose topic was balancing work and life.

Both were selected for “their pathos, their exact limning of an emotionally fraught moment without excess or comment, and their command of the form”, says Jim Kacian, the judge.


the programmer

woken by a sleeping screen

to offline loneliness

– by David Dayson


“This poem captures an element that is perhaps new to the world: the collocation ‘offline loneliness’ I think to be quite special,” says Mr Kacian, asking “Has it ever been possible to be more lonely than within the context of ubiquitous interconnectivity?”


home from the night shift

a quick kiss in the doorway

as she leaves for work

– by Andrew Shimield


“This poem is a beautiful illustration that symmetry is not always balance,” says Mr Kacian. “The price we pay for our daily bread can be higher than we even imagine, so the recognition of the processes by which we pay can be essential to our finding our balance.”

The first runner up this week is:


weekend overtime

the kids all smiling at me

from a photo-frame

by Lynne Rees


Mr Kacian writes: “This poem is very well crafted, with the third line again timed for maximum surprise and impact. It’s also a 5-7-5 syllable poem, but so skilfully managed as not to seem wordy or overlong, as is often the case with such efforts in English. And of course it contains worlds of emotional power – not only the yearning for actual face-time with those kids, but also the sense of necessary sacrifice in forgoing that time to supply them with other things they need.”

And the second runner up is:


in the park

wind ruffling

my portfolio notes

by Judy Kendall


Mr Kacian writes: “This poem uses a slight misdirection, so that the third line can surprise and amuse the reader, and deepen the import. What seems perfectly idyllic – a moment n the park, the wind rising gently – brings us home again to the fact that we’re only taking a respite from our work. But finding a way to bring such a respite into a busy day is itself a kind of victory, and the poem celebrates that without actually naming it.”

Details of next week’s contest, whose topic is the commute, can be found at

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