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John Maxwell O’Brien – Haiku – A Baker’s Dozen

John Maxwell profile Dec 2020

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing, Volume Two, December 2020.

John Maxwell O’Brien is an emeritus professor of history (Queens College, CUNY) who has written numerous articles on ancient history, medieval history, and the history of alcoholism. His best-selling biography, Alexander the Great: The Invisible Enemy (Routledge), has been translated into Greek and Italian, and he authored the article on alcoholism in the Oxford Classical Dictionary. Professor O’Brien’s second life has been devoted to his first love, creative writing, and he has published a variety of poems and short stories in literary journals. His debut novel, Aloysius the Great (Propertius Press), published on Bloomsday this year and brimming with Joycean allusions, has been greeted with rave reviews on Amazon (where it can be purchased) and in Goodreads. Of late the professor says he thinks he has discovered his poetic métier in the haiku. Here are some of his initial efforts in that direction.

To say what I please
Without being pilloried
If one disagrees


Haiku…no rhyme?
Break that tacit rule… you
Do so all the time


Rosy-fingered dawn
Flashing crimson bearing hope
A new day is born


Always the other
Endless love for thee and thine
Forsaking mother


Never did falter
Struck dumb about love…but
The Rock of Gibraltar


It’s Ireland’s map
They’d all say of my freckled face
I’d pull down my cap


Barely half as smart
As I pretend to be…but
Brilliant at the part


Miniature me
Along with words my path to


Art and Neurosis
The odd eye yields art
We stop…stare…and marvel
At a world apart


Unpainted picture
In my window…more profound
Than Holy Scripture


Both Jekyll and Hyde
Peering back from my mirror
Who’d like to guide?


Castle and coffin
Bungalow…bed…bar…and bier
I couldn’t stop loffin


Ashes to ashes
Mud to mud…and in between
A few bright flashes

© John Maxwell O’Brien