Pauline’s haiku are starting to become nasty. The questions by people on the telephone seem outrageously inane, the nattering among her co-workers is irksome, and the next time her boss asks her to have yet another twenty-page proposal typed by 10 a.m., well, Pauline is a bit concerned that her reaction might have a detrimental effect on her promotional possibilities.

She pauses. “A detrimental effect on her promotional possibilities”? That’s the way she thinks now. The cumbersome polysyllabic mumbo-jumbo that she types all day is starting to invade her mental functions. What she means in plain English is that she may lunge at the guy or throw his papers in his face or even tell him that there is no fucking way she can decipher his incoherent hen-scratchings and produce in less than an hour twenty impeccably word-processed pages.

The haiku she wrote used to provide solace. They were a succinct art she turned to after a day of inputting flabby meaningless text.

Please be advised that all previous communications in terms of the viability of our new product in the eastern Ontario market should be assessed in conjunction with the new federal regulations regarding …

Blah blah blah blah blah. Pauline started to worry when her haiku about glorious moments in the natural world degenerated into prosaicness.

home row keys
inviting the touch
of rough fingers

She is genuinely shocked that lately all her haiku are about the dullest of topics: her boss, the circulation of air in her building, the superiority of WordPerfect over Microsoft Word. She tries to rectify things by taking long walks by the creek, craving inspiration. She returns sated but can only manage

food transferred
from beak to throat
as text to hard disk

She scrambles, vows to herself to eliminate similes, scrunches her brow determinedly as she concentrates on natural topics: something about lightning, something about the hardness of rock, something about carnivores, something about how serenely perfect grass appears from afar but how gritty and disappointing it is close up. Something. Anything.

dagger eyes
fend off
sharp requests
for pencils

Pauline decides that it is hopeless. She starts to work more perfunctorily in the office and does not allow herself to be agitated by the gobbledegook. She tries to reverse the process. She transforms all the correspondence, replacing the flaccid prose with succinct stanzas, in which the images are exact and exquisite.