Between the Hard Covers (Or In This Case Many Worn Paper-Backs) – To Sir Terry Pratchett


Between the Hard Covers (Or In This Case Many Worn Paper Backs)
(To Sir Terry Pratchett)

There was a time
in which kisses were not mine.
except for that sweet kind given
by children,
where my lips pressing back closed close as a shush
in order to hush
the fervor,
to not pass on, as if contagious,

And on those Fridays nights,
which I knew in advance would be lone,
and which in the final slant of the week
were nearly unbearable,
I’d stop at a book shop just a block
from my office–each time as if
by chance–just a block too
from the train, and pick
you up.

Your pages would hold me
even before I left the store, taking both
my hands.

You would fully enfold me
by the time we reached the sidewalk
and would keep me under your covers
though the subway, paying no mind
to the couples with their bangs already bed-tousled, 
the dingy abandon
of the plastic lozenge seats.

You would carry me
across the cobbled night
of the West Village
as smoothly as a turtle
might carry a world,
a turtle also balancing
four elephants–for I read
as I walked, and I did not look out
for potholes, tree pits,
New Jerseyites swerving in search
of a parking place–

And my heart
and my lips opened,
for lips have to open
to laugh–I read you even
in the bath–
I read and read
and when I finished,
I started in


It is with true heartbreak that I write of the death of Sir Terry Pratchett, British fantasy writer and satirist.  I cannot overstate the gifts that Sir Terry has given me for the last twenty years or so, since he became my favorite writer.

I am linking this poem to the Real Toads prompt “out of standard” by Izzy Gruye, which has to do with failed kisses.   (At first, it seemed an odd prompt to put with Pratchett–then I realized that it made exact sense in my case.)

I cannot thank him enough.

PS – my understanding is that the above is a stock photo of Pratchett available for free use–no copyright infringement intended. 

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28 Comments on “Between the Hard Covers (Or In This Case Many Worn Paper-Backs) – To Sir Terry Pratchett”

  1. I can relate to this. Lovely tribute.

  2. hedgewitch Says:

    You describe the reason we read, what a book can mean, how we reach each other in the most intimate and necessary places through words, and of course, laughter. I know Pratchett is a great loss, though I have not read him, from the very real sadness his death has evoked in so many.Perhaps that is the truest mark of what a writer is.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Yes, that’s probably true. His books are uneven–not that they are not all fun–but some are really quite great and others not as much (except maybe to a fan), so probably good to start with the right ones, if interested. And it definitely helps to have a certain sense of humor–not exactly Monty Pythonesque as he has a much great sweetness–but with a sense of the ridiculous and satiric. I was trying to tailor this one to the prompt somewhat so it doesn’t describe our full involvement with Pratchett, which was honestly a bit over the top! (Since we had so many books on tape as well as print.) They are simply the kind of books that can be read again and again–I’m not sure what makes that work in a book, but I think it has to be a bit uplifting, as I can think of books I like a great deal but that I would not want to read twice (much less one hundred times.) Thanks. k.

  3. Oh.. and now I realize I have not read him.. but really I could understand how you came to the realization how your kisses would lead you here.. For many of us reality was more real in the books.

  4. Mama Zen Says:

    This is beautiful, real work, K. I really, really like this.

  5. Beautiful tribute “.And my heart heartened, and my lips opened,
    for lips have to open to laugh” Love that line. Reading so often was/is my salvation, my friend, my joy.

  6. Isadora Gruye Says:

    Hiya K….What a moving tribute. So glad to see you posted this to the out of standard. When I got a notice from BBC that Pratchett had passed, I was so saddened, and almost thought of changing my prompt which had just posted. Again, stunning work and viva la

  7. Lacy J Says:

    I love the first stanza.

  8. Kerry O'Connor Says:

    I sobbed my already sad heart out (from the death of a friend the day before) when I heard that Sir Terry was gone. Taken too soon, but a battle bravely fought. I hope there is a place in Avalon for this wizard to rest.

  9. Jim Says:

    I like your writing here, k. It took me a little while to realize that ALL of the paperbacks you told of were by Terry Pratchett. I have not had a crush on any writer but do have a few favorites.
    It seems as if I should read him a bit which will be possible. Our library has 181 titles of his (some repetition, ex. large and regular print editions are separates). I may choose his next to last, “The Long Utopia” published June, 2015.
    You could help me pick.
    Oh yes ((BTW) I also attended a funeral for my friend’s son. He was 51 and was a cowboy, died suddenly-fell dead onto the floor. He learned bull riding in high school and went on to college to compete in bull riding with his school’s rodeo team.
    I am running late with my post, since it is Saturday, 3.14, I wrote Izzy a Pi Poem for National Pi Day.

    • Jim Says:

      The funeral was yesterday morning.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Hey Jim,

      I’m so sorry about your loss. I would not recommend one of Pratchett’s latest books. He was diagnosed with early onset alzheimer’s disease in about 2007 and it is quite amazing that he kept writing, but the later books are sadly not nearly as good as the earlier ones. If you wanted one to start, I would choose Guards Guards (the beginning of the Night Watch series), or Going Postal, or Wyrd Sisters (the beginning of the witches series.)

      Thanks. k.

      On Sat, Mar 14, 2015 at 4:23 PM, ManicDDaily wrote:


      • Jim Says:

        Thank you, k. I’ll probably try Guards Guards for my start. I read some reviews and it seems okay, I don’t read war books or see war movies.
        I also learned that at age fifteen Pratchett bought himself a typewriter. I did that also, at age 17, from my department store earnings while at college. My kind of fellow though his beard is longer than mine.

  10. This is a beautiful and touching tribute, Karen…what an amazing journey it must have been being his reader…that’s a special thing!

  11. gailatthefarm Says:

    What a wonderful tribute.

    Thanks for coming by to visit.

  12. Him and I used to spend a lot of time on trees–I’ve always had librarian tendencies. I took him to rifle ranges, to land navigation classes and to promotion ceremonies that would certainly last too long. He sat with me on 24-hour duties, when things were slow and everyone else was dreaming of things that existed just for them.

    I feel your loss, for it also weeps inside my heart. I hope DEATH and our Terry are having a good time. And brandy.

  13. lolamouse Says:

    You describe the joys of reading so well! A good book can take you away to another world where you can live, if only for a short time. Terry Pratchett will be greatly missed.

  14. M Says:

    I have not read him but you inspire me to. ~

  15. Polly Says:

    What a marvellous tribute to him, K.
    At writers’ circle last night a young man recalled meeting Sir Terry when said young man (he’s in his early twenties now) told his story. He shook Sir Terry’s hand and said he loved every one of Sir T’s books and that he had started writing. Sir Terry said to him ‘writing is the best use of a life’ – isn’t that fab.

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