“My pen is my brush” Tribute to the late Dai Fry. Part One of Three. This covers his contributions to the May 2020 Ekphrastic, most have his audio, too. I often feel that the mark of a great ekphrastic writer is that their piece holds up even without the artwork. There is a moving tribute to him by Ankh Spice at the end of this post.

Dai Fry 1

Neolithic Flowers

Eternity’s span
this arch of stars,
counts time beyond
ten finger tips.

Into wicker’s rest.
Fill this grave
with a crush
of wild flowers.

Mixed meadows
delicate pastels
and fine perfumes,
grace your memory.

Unbearable grief
and beauty speak
under the voice.

Why must our ways
always be run,
through a curtain
of dying flowers
and falling tears.

© Dai Fry 20th February 2020.

I once asked Dai for an up to date short, third person bio:

Dai Fry is a poet living on the south coast of England. Originally from Swansea. Wales was and still is a huge influence on everything. My pen is my brush. Twitter: @thnargg Web: https://t.co/sjO4FFS6vc

May Ekphrastic challenge white 2[78440]

GAMMA-ALPHA-LIGHT
Friday, 8 May 2020
10:50
Under glass I stretch,
out life, not to
smell tree sap or leaf.
Or breezing wind.
Catch rain that drops
on tipped toe tongues.

No horizons
lead crystal walls.
And beyond,
tangled imaginations,
a hunger of beasts.

I see my knees and
look in vain,
for the grazing
of a life not lived.

Under glass, dry tears,
await night’s shadow
to take the trees away.
Now danger only song in
this apocalyptic dark.

Hunters eyes dwell
beyond the confines,
of my glass walls.
I read and watch,
food bottled and tinned.

I gather up fear,
a glowing landscape
into which
I can never venture.

Soft song, sang a requiem.
Last of my line.

© Dai Fry 8th May 2020.

SHIVA’S DANCE
Saturday, 9 May 2020
10:44
All stones, a conglomeration
of illusion and desire.
All dawns, pre-set to rise and fall
breathe and grow
and yet…
all are followed by a drowning sun.

Not a stone story or tellers myth.
For souls so bound in greed and gold.
My house is as opium dreams…
in these whispers of life.

No movement, in still darkling corners
where life and dust move so slowly that
luxing shadows

OF CATS AND GODS
Sunday, 10 May 2020
14:21
It is told in the oldest book that
all cats must have two dreams.
The second a tale
of the fertile crescent,
land of Nebuchadnezzar.
A place of long ago.

Only to leave,
for reasons of their own.
On a great adventure.
Maybe they first travelled
on Abraham’s road to Canaan.

Before they became gods,
and tellers of riddles,
on the banks of that north
flowing river.

“Where one gives birth to the other,
who in turn gives birth to the first”

©️ Dai Fry 10th May 2020.

HIDDEN PATTERNS
Monday, 11 May 2020
14:43
A gentle fading,
apparent under grey paint.
Beauty from passing times.

As lonely words woken
from a shoebox diary.
Lifted from lace dreams
by curious children.
Sepia ink, pressed petals
all tied with yellow ribbon.
Bedded in lilac tissue.

Bitter at the old decay
Sleeping years have wrought,
I stare… but you
will not resolve for me.

As old pain lessens
a new loss presents.
Fresh with a hurt that is
not immediately clear.

©️ Dai Fry 11th May 2020.

WEEDS
Tuesday, 12 May 2020
15:00
A plant’s wrong ways, take
shape on chancing breeze.
Anarchy rises to sap
at butchered lands.

Outsiders, friendless
purpose unknown.
Immigrants from the without.

We are frightened,
held rigid
by the different beauty
of their strange song.

These alien ways
like a wild yeast that
comes to a baker’s call.
Fresh, different
much raised in
our estimations.

Re-wilding gods,
stand to let
the ground grow
as it will.
A flower meadow
not a lawn.
Bees see it,
twice as sweet.

Flown, travelling seeds
on wind blown songs.
Till the loam of
a stranger’s town.
Taking the balance
of a natural palette.

And soon we will have a place
of rare delight.
Watered with joy and tears,
cooled by butterflies.

©️ Dai Fry 12th May 2020.

BLOSSOMS
Wednesday, 13 May 2020
10:51
In my memory a
late snow had dried,
-leaving no trace-
though it still flaked
eggshell brittle from
the damp cellar walls.

I recall the deer park.
Richmond in early April,
probably a lifetime ago.

The pink and white a
growing bloom,
was joy within.

Did I dance the blossom
under ruck sacked back
and in leather shoes?

Dappled tree shadow,
as petalled canopies filled
the obscured skies.

A morning,
those trudging ways.
And everything was white
and pink. I loved
the pastel rain.
It made me cry.


©️ Dai Fry 13th May 2020.

TANKS
Thursday, 14 May 2020
14:14
Lilies, petal wrapped,
their colour smiles
in water’s drift.

A summer’s dreamer,
her flowers are
purple rain catchers.

Tanks: ancient reservoirs,
lilies far as sight permits.

Under chlorophyll isles
drift tangled fronds
where swimmers weave
their cool green,
hydraulic dreams.

Elephants drink here
and stick legged
avians break journeys.
To stand pensive, in these
time worn water fields.

Marvel at floating leaves,
whose island dreams
and water songs,
play rippling gently.

In the distance
where lilies meet sky:
A white chalk bright
Stupa topped with
Buddha head spike,
pierces the unbroken blue.

Once neolithic mounds
to hold our dead,
now giants of brick
and stone…
who bow their heads
to passing flowers
and greenway archipelagos.

To drink a deep fill,
a quench of lake water.

©️ Dai Fry 14th May 2020.

WHO ARE YOU
Friday, 15 May 2020
13:48
A life of consequences.
The whole thing
a slight of hand…
I cannot see me,
doubt anyone can.

Never to know my name,
or purpose hidden behind.
Mendacity my gift and
I my own victim.
My light is not
the illuminating kind.

A life spent
hide and seeking,
the deeper I look
the darker my lairs.

I nearly met
on one or two occasions,
not yet being
quite there.

©️ Dai Fry 15th May 2020.

A SEA SPAT
Saturday, 16 May 2020
10:46
You leave treasures
on your golden table,
swept crumb clean
by tiny waves.

Taken home and placed
on sun bleached pine,
with sprigs of sea’s weed
and pebble soothed glass.

When age takes away
the wave and sandy shore.
When sight dims and
eyes fill with rheum.

Then touch her treasures,
smell her salty airs,
remember the crash
and rattle of sea scree.

Draw each breath
and with it,
memories of sand winds
and young limbs.

Remembering when
gulls cried their fish hunger,
and sun backed silhouettes
passed in wet sea skies.

Wistfulness marks you,
a desire for foam and dunes
where land gets up from the sea.

A bringing of comfort, this
distillation of mindfulness,
as a pause in your day.

In a dawn filled room
flax bed and polish, sense
curtains caught in sea breeze.
These billowing angels greet
you on this, your last day.

©️ Dai Fry 16th May 2020.

ELECTRON DREAMER
Sunday, 17 May 2020
17:47
I am the neon burner,
golem walker, dream stalker
on night-ma-red roads.

Behind, pavements
lie murking shadows
in trenches to the side.

Silent drifting, these
sleeping cities dreaming
they still wake.

Deep ocean hunter
under my own light.
Cold fire will call,
from high lines
to dream tides,
washed in the
flotsam and jetsam
of your night.

Outside our dreams piped
to the periphery of life.
See us reborn into
sleep’s despair,
as lizard brains must
warm on moonlit rocks.


©️ Dai Fry 17th May 2020.

TOWER
Thursday, 21 May 2020
11:09
Wrapped in roots
of long ago.

We left our trees
for rich alluvial plains.

For millennia we
walked the ground,

Now we live in towers
and yearn for forests.

©️ Dai Fry 21st May 2020.

DEEP FOREST
Friday, 22 May 2020
17:39
In deep forest
moss cushions of brown leaves.
Branches take their bow.
In deep forest all are strangers.

In deep forest
I carry my shame slowly.
In light’s paucity,
I ponder my place.
Never been worthy
locked down tight,
in the deep forest.

In deep forest
you may think
that I breathe
long in green meadows,
That I walk
in thoughts lost,
That I hold
my lover’s hand, fingers woven.
But my heart I pledge
To deep forest.

In deep forest
they call my name,
shame my sex
and spike me cruel.
I feel less then I should
or care to do.
In sweet melancholia,
I find release.
So in my deep forest,
alone I mourn,
the passing of my turn.


©️ Dai Fry revised May 22nd 2020.

NOW ANGEL
Sunday, 24 May 2020
10:40
Now angel, far
dreams lie fallow.
Tear ducts, weep
falls of dust.

Wither my arms,
so I can soar.
Stone chest, a brace
for god like wings.

And of earthly hunger.
Love and anger.
Of triumphs, the
ache of human pain.

Or an early love,
when the bedside light
went black.

Will you take my sadness,
strip it out. Gutted on
the butcher’s floor.
Once all I was.

Do angels get indigestion?
I pray that they do.


©️ Dai Fry Revised 24th May 2020..

TANGLED
Tuesday, 26 May 2020
11:56
This tangle I’m in
of root and branch
where abandoned
horizons crossing
lines across
an angry devil’s brow
between the barbs
the horns that hold
my flickering life
in their cupped hands.

Feared of the moss
green dampening dark
as every year
my tangle grows
imperceptibly slow
and croaky cry so
crowed and cawed
to stay or go within
the limits of the flow.

As I stare out of my bulging
wide this baby’s eye
and the innocence sighs
of old souls dribbling
torrential gushing truth
in streams that roar comes
from the corners of their
river mouth now
a gaping Hades gate
a maw.

More than a view
a dream what might
or could have been
stretched into each limb
to calculate a figurine’s
life of brittle comforts
as prelude not to preclude
the kicks and rage
when even to live
with cherub face pressed
to muddy ground is
taking a stand for the choice
and not to be held
in thrall to your dreams.

©️ Dai Fry 26th May 2020.

SOON GIBBOUS
Wednesday, 27 May 2020
12:28
Unglazed crescent.
Fear your light should
fall from grace, through
crystal panes.

In early night
blue, an electric,
sharp as any knife.

A promise has arisen
from the middle east, as
desert sands softly glow.
Soon to be gibbous,
not yet full.

Celestial forevers
and on its tail,
Venus the even-star,
sister of the morning.

Cold luminosity
exotic geometry
hung in a childhood’s sky,
and there in rheumy eyes.

Without it why
would I loose a
lycanthrope’s howl.

Or grassland to blood
outside my bars.
Far ocean panting as it
licks the shore,
amorphous too big
for a beast.

Something unnatural
about this moon.
Born spilling red
and silvered fear.
Sizzling
on my counterpane.

©️ Dai Fry 27th May 2020.

NEWTONIAN FLUID
Thursday, 28 May 2020
14:15
As I birth, so I draw
this first breath
through my reflection,
no features yet.
No memory to spoil.

Newtonian forces
ripple the fluid
that holds all,
in divine tension.

To wonder aloud,
alone and pointless,
as if in
a dream or yet now
awake.

Like Alice pulled,
then stretched long.
From the mirror
to the looking glass room.
As her old times cling
distorting memories,
of her left behind world.

Once stories and
dreams ran freely,
before language gripped
and took our sight.

Wondering at last,
near death
what if, and
will the dream
continue alone.

The remnants lie in
stranger’s eyes,
a leaf that blows
all wrong.
A thing that cannot be,
a dream detection.

©️ Dai Fry 28th May 2020.

RED ASYLUM oct 2019.
Friday, 29 May 2020
10:59

Alone with my thoughts
I park the car
and climb the
stubborn slopes
to my childhood.
Up Cockett Hill
to the Red Asylum.

I glance down
for a glimpse of my
child knees, not there.

Water tower and chimney
shoulders tight,
stark upon that hill.
A land marked Swansea bay.

Now a conglomeration
of housing,
cul-de-sacs
to a builder’s greed.
And our house
a creation
of the same
victorian red brick.

Rotted no value left
save for the slugs
and other denizens
of damp places.

A wet ruin is left
turned to a wisp,
as insubstantial as
my early memories.

Through the letterbox
sits a sad hall, mould
wet and pleading.
Listen for my mother’s voice
but its not there,
not even an echo.

A little life, unravelling.
Old damp letters
circle the mat.

My family’s absence,
this random cruelty. A
product of my time.

Once I was a child here
with a cat that purred,
I thought it was
a lion roaring.

And outside, those dark
woods that I remember.
Just six pine trees, dying.

That mighty forest,
stolen away for ever.

©️ Dai Fry 29th May 2020.

FAUX ETERNITY
Saturday, 30 May 2020
11:48
I seek to make
a journey of a kind,
into the buddha face.
As if soft eyes hold,
answers to hope.

A lustre that says
I do not sleep,
but time my breath
my circadian dreams,
to the rhythm of stars.

We are all travellers
within the enigma
of a conscious mind.

Do you know to hope,
see what I see?
Do you cleave green seas?

I hold my life entire
in fragments of
long forgotten song.
My visage serene, or
maybe too tired to frown.

Step away now, or feel
my chameleon breath
enter your eyes and
stir the fronds
of a faux eternity.

©️ Dai Fry 30th May 2020.

*******

ONCE SOLSTICE

Shamans tales
worn smooth and sweet
by the telling years.

Before gnostic midwinter,
as Jupiter and Saturn
nearly kissed.
The oral lore spoke
of this shy love.

Huddled deep within,
our dwellings to welcome
the ghosts of sleep.

In times of fire,
leather and wool
The evergreen
holly guards our door
Sweet pine promises
a fecund return.

For we will be here
when spring is restored,
to see the baby lambs
jumping for joy
in our green fields.

© Dai Fry 21st December 2020

When asked how the Special November 2020 Ekphrastic challenge had been for him he said:

The challenge has been different this time. Same issue how to write an original poem every day for a month. My solution to let ideas flow uncensored. The result: I discovered humour in these little stories. Different and more spontaneous. Plus as usual a great sense of community.

More of the poems he wrote for the November ekphrastic to come in Part Three. Here is a taster:

THE VISITORS

Visitors bring
their esoteric truths,
kabbalistic and misunderstood.

For their strangeness
in itself, is
a kind of blinding.

Hermetic truth
hidden amongst
bales of perceived treasure.

None see what is cloaked.
Glitter and finery really
promise fugacious riches.

But the truth is always
lost in plain day sight.

And the road to these treasures
is metalled and wide.
Leaving death and extinction
in its wake.

© Dai Fry 29th November 2020.

TREES ARE ICEBERGS

When I was young,
they seemed bigger.
Proud standing above the land.

Bark like elephant skin,
they have no obvious bite.
In fact the only teeth they fear
are in the jaw of the saw.

I once met a man
who told me, we
can never be truly sure
that trees exist.

Try running down
the hill, pell-mell.
Full of vim and vigour.
Straight into their
iron trunks.
They are there.

What I never knew
was that trees are like
icebergs. So much
more under the ground.

Its where they talk
and feed each other.
Looking after the
weak and the sick.

I love trees and fervently hope,
that they in turn love me.

© Dai Fry 28th November 2020.

For Dai Fry

Dai Fry was a visionary of a school older than our current seeing, and I’ll always be glad to have existed in the same time as him. In another time and place, I like to think we’d have wandered some ancient forest and coastline together as druid-bards, tongues and eyes only for magic and myth. We bonded over poetry that summoned the deep sea, the deep forest, and the hugeness of the universe – he knew the connections of ‘folded places’ and that all coasts and woods are sisters. I so admired his gift for seeing and writing beyond, and behind, and into the old paths.

I recall when I first got to know Dai, being so struck by the cauldron-churn imagery in one of his deep ocean poems, sending him a video of an enormous kraken-seaweed thrashing off our own coast, him saying it was just exactly his poem. In turn that day he delighted me by saying that a description of a deeply calm ocean full of ‘unstirring kelps’ in my piece took him back to the happiest days of childhood, which was typical – he was gracious, encouraging, and kind with other writers and his comments and philosophical conversations were gifts freely given. We overlapped also in our struggles with the dark places inside the human brain, in our work experiences, love of shadow-textured photography and layered minimalist instrumental music. It is such a privilege to connect with another mind, in any way and at any time, and to connect with one as deep and enduring as Dai Fry’s is a gift dropped from the blue.

I wanted to write a lot more about his work, but the testimonial I was so lucky to write for his book really says all of it – that that book exists is a very proud and right legacy. And I’m a poet, not an essayist, so everything else I wanted to say went into today’s daily ekphrastic challenge poem, written for him. I hope he’d have been tickled about that, given the enormous presence he was in last year’s challenges, and his own vast enthusiasm and gift for these.

Dai, what a gift, to meet you, human who saw the universe, stared it in the face without blinking, and wrote down what it told him.

Read him and glimpse it too – somewhere he’ll be nodding as it dawns on you.

Ankh Spice, April 2020

For Dai Fry

Dai Fry was a visionary of a school older than our current seeing, and I’ll always be glad to have existed in the same time as him. In another time and place, I like to think we’d have wandered some ancient forest and coastline together as druid-bards, tongues and eyes only for magic and myth. We bonded over poetry that summoned the deep sea, the deep forest, and the hugeness of the universe – he knew the connections of ‘folded places’ and that all coasts and woods are sisters. I so admired his gift for seeing and writing beyond, and behind, and into the old paths.

I recall when I first got to know Dai, being so struck by the cauldron-churn imagery in one of his deep ocean poems, sending him a video of an enormous kraken-seaweed thrashing off our own coast, him saying it was just exactly his poem. In turn that day he delighted me by saying that a description of a deeply calm ocean full of ‘unstirring kelps’ in my piece took him back to the happiest days of childhood, which was typical – he was gracious, encouraging, and kind with other writers and his comments and philosophical conversations were gifts freely given. We overlapped also in our struggles with the dark places inside the human brain, in our work experiences, love of shadow-textured photography and layered minimalist instrumental music. It is such a privilege to connect with another mind, in any way and at any time, and to connect with one as deep and enduring as Dai Fry’s is a gift dropped from the blue.

I wanted to write a lot more about his work, but the testimonial I was so lucky to write for his book really says all of it – that that book exists is a very proud and right legacy. And I’m a poet, not an essayist, so everything else I wanted to say went into today’s daily ekphrastic challenge poem, written for him. I hope he’d have been tickled about that, given the enormous presence he was in last year’s challenges, and his own vast enthusiasm and gift for these.

Dai, what a gift, to meet you, human who saw the universe, stared it in the face without blinking, and wrote down what it told him.

Read him and glimpse it too – somewhere he’ll be nodding as it dawns on you.

Ankh Spice, April 2020

One thought on ““My pen is my brush” Tribute to the late Dai Fry. Part One of Three. This covers his contributions to the May 2020 Ekphrastic, most have his audio, too. I often feel that the mark of a great ekphrastic writer is that their piece holds up even without the artwork. There is a moving tribute to him by Ankh Spice at the end of this post.

  1. Pingback: “My pen is my brush” A three part tribute to the late Dai Fry. Part Two. Here is a previously unpublished, unfinished interview I did with Dai last year. There is also a comment on Dai from Margaret Royall. | The Wombwell Rainbow

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