To be allowed a friendship with the dead is to be allowed into an infinitely gratifying society, one of which you are a part, one from which no human is excluded, one into which the entirety of what one feels and says is accepted, and accepted whole. As the friend cannot separate the joys and difficulties of friendship from each other, so in life the friend is undiminished by the genuine efforts of being a friends, the listener is undiminished by the efforts of listening, and the artist is undiminished by the efforts of creating. Love, profound and difficult, does not diminish. Walt says live and be, be and speak, speak and listen, listen and grow, grow and die, die and be—the earth wants only your everything. He says, I give I grow I reproduce infinitely. The resilient organic perennial flowering that is in all loving acts and ways is maybe most present and accessible among our friends the dead. Nature does not cease but there are times when it becomes dark, silent, or impenetrably stormy—but at any time of day or night, in any place I find myself, I can wake Walt up and in a full vibrant honest loving voice he will speak and sing to me with the companioned quality of one who believes my truth, and that it exists beside and in relation to his own.


Joshua Beckman says Happy Birthday to Walt Whitman