Sunday, April 14, 2013

Your Nightly Inspiration: The Poetry of Max Huberman

Anyone who was fortunate enough to meet my late grandfather Max Huberman knows that he was an epic individual.  With a personal history reads like a history of liberalism in the 20th century, Max's life was committed to the preservation of justice and free thought, whether he was campaigning for racial justice, religious liberty, or empowering people to transform their health through a plant-based diet.  His personal motto was a quote from Horace Mann: "Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity," and he lived that creed many times over.

But it was not Max's ideological fervor alone that inspired such admiration from those around him.  While Max possessed a politician's drive, he was a poet at heart, and his ability to distill complex emotions, histories, and philosophies into verse and jokes endeared him to family and strangers alike.
Some years ago, my Dad and Uncle Jeff compiled his poetry and published them in a collection called Victories, which Dad uploaded to our family website.  If you need a whiff of hope, sometime this week--or any time, for that matter--you should check them out here at

Grandpa always claimed Walt Whitman as his favorite poet, and no doubt Whitman's care for humanity is present here.  However, after reading "Chicago Poems" in an Illinois poetry class in undergrad, it's Sandberg's tight and more direct verse that felt instantly recognizable.  To be honest I never felt terribly close to my Grandpa in his life--he lived his life in such a heightened plane it was difficult for any mere mortal to keep up.  But reading Sandberg and then his poetry again, I felt like I had gained a window into the formation of his soul.

Below is what has always been my favorite of his poems.  I encourage you to check out the rest if you need to to light a fire in your belly.

"There are no atheists in foxholes."
                    Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker
                    (Acclaimed hero, World War I)


Once upon a time I watched my buddies in a
    foxhole to find out about atheists,

And I heard somebody’s kid brother explain
    the best way to split a man’s head
    open with a rifle butt,

And I saw a brand new sergeant using his
    bayonet on a trench rat, laughing
            like a little girl,

And I saw a smart joe slowly hoist a helmet
    on a stick and get four bullets
            through his back…
I guess I still don’t know about atheists--
      but I watched my buddies in a foxhole
            and all the Gods were neutral.


  1. I do need a fire lit, and that poem is an excellent little ember.

  2. Glad I could be of service, my dear!