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Poetry & Writing Submissions—June 2019

Flapper Press encourages our readers and writers to submit original works of poetry and short fiction on a monthly basis. June's writing prompt was "Notorious."

Thank you to all who submitted this month. Stay tuned for July's writing prompt!


From Austria, Gerda Strobl continues to inspire us with her work.

From Gerda:

I don't know why, but this is what the poem "From Blossoms" triggered this poem:


It flows.

On and on,

like rivers,

it flows and flows,

like sound waves,

like the wind


and whispering

across a field of rye.

It flows like the smile

that ghosts from face to face

all the way across an orchestra,

oft unseen by the audience.

It flows and rises and ebbs.

Like the intensity of emotion

from the tiny seedling of love

to the wilted remains of it,

it rises, ebbs and flows.

It flows inside, outside,

it flows throughout.

It flows, it flows.

It flows.


— Gerda Strobl



The garden lay peaceful and tranquil. The steady hum of bees accompanied the dance of butterflies across the meadow and the occasional visit of a dragonfly at our tiny pond. We had opened the French windows. The scent of my roses wafted in. The breeze was playing lazily with the curtains as we made love. That is, I was making love to the piano, bringing out such soft moans and tinkling laughs as it is capable of.

Randy doesn't know a thing about music, really, but he has an instinct for what sells. I guess it's because he isn't musical . . . well, not a moron, but he lacks the refined taste of an educated audience. I am art, he is commerce. I am fine tuned, he is rough and ready. I am a rising star, he is an old hand. These differences make us a congenial team. By now we are a bit like an old couple, living in each other's pockets during composing sessions. Back then, however, he was a stranger sitting in my living room, listening intently, but with little understanding. I could tell by the way he was breathing. A stranger, however, who came with a recommendation of my composition teacher.

So there we were, and at some point Randy gestured, "Keep that bit." It took a little while to extract the passage he wanted. I contemplated it for a minute or ten. He kept his silence. Then I started playing again, building up toward the tune he had singled out. Most of the time he nodded, a few times his face registered doubt or dissatisfaction, but he did not speak or seek to stop me. He is one of very few laypeople I didn't have to explain this to: I cannot bear to be interrupted by people talking. It completely disrupts the musical web I am weaving. I don't know why human speech should be so intrusive whereas the visit of a disoriented hornet or june bug barely touches my conscious thought, but there it is; and for some reason Randy gets it. He always did, even back then, during his first visit.

He made me polish the little air the way he liked it, and then he recorded it, and off he went. To be honest, I felt that I could do much, much better than that. I felt that he was walking off with one of the lesser tunes I had improvised that lovely early summer day. It was not as avant-garde and not as interesting as I could have made it. My greatest fear was that he would go and sell it to be played in a commercial. I kept telling myself that Bach and Beethoven tunes were often heard in commercials, too, so it would not be that shameful. It didn't work one bit. I mean, who was I kidding?

Week after week passed, and I ended up convinced that he had gone and used my dainty little air for one of those websites where people sell their compositions, cheaply bypassing the artists' associations that ensure you get your dues. What an irony that would have been!

Two months later, however, Randy turned up again. At my request, he played my own composition back at me. It sounded okay. Not as artistically inspiring as I wished it were but definitely better than I remembered it. He said he had found two recording studios that were ready to give me a chance. Which one did I want? Well, that was the beginning of the big career performing in front of large audiences. I still feel disappointed when I am composing and Randy lets brilliant movements go by to pick out mediocre ones. But the former no longer get lost. Today, I record every bit of the sessions we have, and sometimes I get them to put bits of it on the CD as a bonus track. Not the really brilliant ones, though, because those I develop and sell to a more high-brow studio for others to perform.

So now, I have balance in my life. Back then, Randy introduced an imbalance that catapulted me sky high. I soon forgot what I was playing, or how I had deemed much of it not good enough. I remembered it again when the critics opined that I was wasting my potential, but at the next concert, the glow shoved their point of view aside.

You see, when a thousand people gather in one room only to hear you—and they breathe with you, sway with you, and your music makes their faces glow—your music runs through them, and it makes them glow. Well, when that happens, it does not matter who or what they are, it only matters that you are making them whole, if perhaps just for the moment. It is a humble power. Wielding it, you begin to realize that your artsy aspirations were nothing but misplaced pride. You do not really matter. They do. Their temporarily mended hearts, their streaming tears, and their joy do. You are but the spark. They are the fire.

— Gerda Strobl

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